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Gookins v. County Materials Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 17, 2019

RYAN GOOKINS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY MATERIALS CORP., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL

          Mark J. Dinsmore, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to compel [Dkt. 87]. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is an action to recover damages incurred by Plaintiffs as a result of a lawsuit filed by Defendants (hereinafter the “Underlying Suit”). In the Underlying Suit, Defendants asserted a variety of claims against Plaintiffs Ryan Gookins, Richard Rectenwal, and Indiana Precast, Inc., that arose out of the fact that Gookins and Rectenwal left the employ of Defendants[1] and went to work for Defendant Indiana Precast, a competing business in which Gookins and Rectenwal had an ownership interest. The Underlying Suit went to trial and was resolved in favor of Plaintiffs; the issue of attorneys' fees remains pending before the state court. In this case, Plaintiffs assert a claim against Defendants for abuse of process under Indiana common law and a claim for damages under Indiana's Crime Victims' Relief Act (the “ICVRA”), Ind. Code § 34-24-3-1, based upon Defendants' alleged commission of criminal deception. Both claims are based upon Defendants' filing and pursuing the Underlying Suit.

         II. DISCUSSION

         In the instant motion, Defendants seek an order compelling Plaintiffs to respond to numerous interrogatories and requests for production. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information “need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Although the burden of demonstrating relevance is on the party seeking discovery, once relevance has been shown, it is the objecting party's obligation “to show why a particular discovery request is improper.” Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Protection Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 449-50 (N.D. Ill. 2006). The objecting party must show with specificity that the request is improper. Graham v. Casey's General Stores, 206 F.R.D. 251, 254 (S.D. Ind. 2002).

         The discovery requests at issue can be divided into two categories: those that seek information relating to the Underlying Suit and those that seek information relating to Plaintiffs' sales information. Each category is addressed, in turn, below.

         A. The Underlying Suit

         Plaintiffs[2] have refused to provide a substantive response to each of the following discovery requests on the identical grounds that it “seeks information that is not relevant to any party's claim or defense and is not proportional to the needs of the case and the burden and expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its benefit. Defendants seek information simply as a means to retry the underlying case they lost and which the Hancock County Superior Court held was frivolous, groundless, unreasonable and litigated in bad faith.”

Interrogatory No. 7: Identify the Utility Pipe Entities' servers, computers, telephones, email systems, email addresses, document management systems, and/or other electronic information systems or devices which You used at any point and identify which of those You have stopped using and the date(s) on which You did so.
Interrogatory No. 8: Identify all past and present presidents, vice presidents, chief executives, chief financial officers, managers, and/or any other executives or officers of Indiana Precast since its formation, including the period of time during which each individual held each role for Indiana Precast.
Interrogatory No. 9: Describe the process You used in the Underlying Lawsuit to search for and identify potentially relevant documents for potential production in that lawsuit, including who was involved in searching for and collecting potentially relevant documents, each date on which You searched for documents, what sources of information You searched (e.g., personal email address, work email account, paper files located in office), which Indiana Precast custodians were searched, who provided You advice on how to search for or identify potentially relevant documents, documents You referred to in ...

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