United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on six motions filed by
Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff Mary Sellers:
(1) Motion for Protective Order and to Establish Sequence of
Discovery Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 [DE
33], filed July 6, 2018. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant United
Automobile Insurance Company responded on July 20, 2018, and
Sellers replied on July 27;
(2) Motion to Compel Answers and Production to First Set of
Interrogatories and Related Document Production [DE 35],
filed July 9, 2018. United responded on July 23, 2018, and
Sellers replied on July 30, 2018;
(3) Motion to Compel Truthful and Complete Answers and
Production Responsive to Second Set of Interrogatories and
Related Document Production [DE 37], filed July 9, 2018.
United responded on July 23, 2018, and Sellers replied on
July 30, 2018;
(4) Motion to Compel Responses to First Set of Requests for
Production of Documents [DE 39], filed July 9, 2018. United
responded on July 23, 2018, and Sellers replied on July 30,
(5) Motion to Compel Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition Testimony of
UAIC and Related Relief [DE 41], filed July 10, 2018. United
responded on July 24, 2018, and Sellers replied on July 31,
(6) Third Agreed Motion to Extend Case Management Deadlines
[DE 58], filed December 20, 2018.
28, 2013, Defendant Brieane Wiley's car rear-ended the
vehicle of Defendant Mary Sellers, injuring Sellers and her
husband, Joshua. Sellers and her husband sued Wiley in state
court. Wiley was insured by United Automobile Insurance
Company, but United did not defend the claim in court, and a
default judgment was entered against Wiley. After the parties
stipulated to a range of combined damages between $772, 877
and $883, 797 for both Plaintiffs, the court entered a
judgment of $795, 037 for Mary Sellers and $12, 000 for
Joshua Sellers ($807, 037 in total), and Wiley assigned her
claims against United to Mary Sellers. United has brought
this action seeking a declaratory judgment that it had no
duty to defend or indemnify Wiley in the state court action,
arguing in part that Wiley did not properly notify United of
the lawsuit and failed to cooperate with United's lawyer.
Mary Sellers filed counterclaims against United, including
allegations of fraud, negligence, and breach of contract.
Sellers has now filed five motions to compel discovery, and
seeks to extend the discovery schedule.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) permits discovery
“regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to
any party's claim or defense.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). Relevance is “construed broadly to encompass
any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to
other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be
in the case.” Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v.
Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978) (citing Hickman v.
Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947)). A party objecting to
the discovery request bears the burden of “show[ing]
why [that] particular discovery request is improper.”
McGrath v. Everest Nat. Ins. Co., 625 F.Supp.2d 660,
670 (N.D. Ind. 2008). The Court has broad discretion when
deciding discovery matters. Thermal Design, Inc. v. Am.
Soc'y of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning
Eng'rs, Inc., 755 F.3d 832, 837 (7th Cir. 2014);
Rennie v. Dalton, 3 F.3d 1100, 1110 (7th Cir.
Motion for Protective Order [DE 33]
seeks a protective order precluding United from deposing her
regarding the underlying state court judgment. Although
United's response brief does not directly state what
information it seeks from Sellers, the Court assumes that
Sellers would be asked to testify to bad faith or collusion
relating to the parties' stipulation, or to the
reasonableness of the damages awarded. United argues that the
state court judgment was a consent judgment, which binds an
insurer only if it is not “the product of bad faith or
collusion and . . . falls somewhere within a broad range of
reasonable resolutions of the underlying dispute.”
Carpenter v. Lovell's Lounge & Grill, LLC,
59 N.E.3d 330 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). Sellers argues that the
judgment was not a consent judgment, because although the
parties entered a stipulation as to the range of damages, the
state court made the final determination of damages based on
the evidence before it.
consent judgment is an agreement between the parties settling
the underlying dispute, which is entered as a judgment by the
court. Minix v. Canarecci, 956 N.E.2d 62, 68
(Ind.Ct.App. 2011) (citing Hanover Logansport, Inc. v.
Robert C. Anderson, Inc., 512 N.E.2d 465, 469
(Ind.Ct.App.1987); Stenger v. LLC Corp., 819 N.E.2d
480, 482 (Ind.Ct.App. 2004)). The entry of a consent judgment
is therefore a “ministerial duty, ” recording the
agreement of the parties, and does not represent the judgment
of the court. Siegel v. Williams, 818 N.E.2d 510,
514 (Ind.Ct.App. 2004) (quoting State ex rel. Prosser v.
Ind. Waste Sys., Inc., 603 N.E.2d 181, 186 (Ind.Ct.App.
1992); Mercantile Nat. Bank of Ind. v. Teamsters Union
Local No. 142 Pension Fund, 668 N.E.2d 1269, 1271
state court case, the parties stipulated that “final
judgment shall be for Plaintiffs, collectively, in an
aggregate amount of no less than $772, 877 and no more than
$883, 797 . . . The parties further agree that the final
entry of damages and entry of Final Judgment shall be within
the reasonable discretion of the trial court upon its review
of the record evidence.” The court's order on
damages stated that the parties “submitted the matter
to the Court for its final determination of damages based
upon the evidentiary submissions before the Court. . . . The
Court has carefully considered and reviewed such evidence,
and determined that damages on the default judgment are
appropriately and reasonably fixed [at the combined figure of
court's order was not a consent judgment. The court
specifically stated that it evaluated the evidence in
arriving at a final judgment, and it made factual findings
that were not contained in the stipulation, such as
Sellers's life expectancy at the time of the collision.
United points to the parties' agreement that damages
“shall” be within the stipulated range, but the
court was not required to interpret that as a consent
judgment, and did not do so. The court's factual findings
and evaluation of the evidence are inconsistent with a
“ministerial” consent judgment that simply
records the agreement of the parties.
also seeks an order precluding her deposition on any other
topic until United has completed its responses to
Sellers's first sets of interrogatories and requests for
production. United does not identify any other topics on
which it would depose Sellers or state why the deposition
needs to happen before United fully produces preliminary
written discovery. Because Sellers herself responded to
discovery prior to deposing United's witnesses, and
because United's responses to the requests are deficient
for the reasons described below, the Court ...