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J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Wofford

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

June 30, 2014

J & J Sports Productions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
James Wofford d/b/a Zanzibar, Defendant.

ORDER

G. ROSS ANDERSON, Jr., Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before this Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel Discovery pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4) and Local Civil Rules 7.04 & 37.01 DSC, seeking an order compelling Plaintiff to respond to certain interrogatories and requests for production "on the ground that Plaintiff's responses were evasive and incomplete." ECF No. 27. This Court finds that oral argument will not aid its decisional process; hence, this Court denies Defendant's Motion in that regard.[1] For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion to Compel Discovery is GRANTED as set forth below.

Background

Plaintiff J & J Sports Productions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") filed this case on September 5, 2013, alleging that James Wofford and Rodney Harris, doing business as Zanzibar, willfully intercepted a live broadcast of "Star Power": Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Victor Ortiz Championship Fight Program (the "Progam") on September 17, 2011. ECF No.

1. "Plaintiff paid for and was granted the exclusive, nationwide, television distribution rights" to this Program by contract, and entered into sublicensing agreements providing the right to publicly exhibit the Program through individual contracts. Id. At the time of the Complaint, Plaintiff was unable to determine without further discovery whether Wofford and Harris "intercepted the Program transmitted by a cable system, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553, or transmitted by a satellite signal, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605, " and thus alleged two alternative counts, as well as a third count of conversion. Id. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Harris on November 4, 2013. ECF No. 9.

Defendant James Wofford ("Defendant") served Plaintiff with Defendant's First Interrogatories and Defendant's First Request for Production on March 10, 2014. ECF No. 27. Defendant received Plaintiff's responses to these interrogatories and requests on April 24, 2014. Id .; see ECF Nos. 27-1 & 27-2. Defendant filed the current motion on May 14, 2014, asking this Court to compel complete responses to Interrogatory Nos. 7, 9, 10, 12, and 13, and to compel complete responses to Request for Production Nos. 7, 12, and 14. ECF No. 27. Plaintiff's response was due by June 2, 2014. Id. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition on June 3, 2014. ECF No. 28. Defendant timely filed a reply in support of his Motion on June 13, 2014. ECF No. 29.

Standard of Review

The Fourth Circuit has clearly delineated its position regarding a district court's ability to implement and enforce discovery parameters. "[A] district court has wide latitude in controlling discovery and... its rulings will not be overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion." Ardrey v. United Parcel Serv., 798 F.2d 679, 682 (4th Cir. 1986) (citations omitted); see Hinkle v. City of Clarksburg, W.Va., 81 F.3d 416, 426 (4th Cir. 1996) ("District courts enjoy nearly unfettered discretion to control the timing and scope of discovery and impose sanctions for failures to comply with its discovery orders."). "A motion to compel discovery is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court." LaRouche v. Nat'l Broad. Co., 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986); see Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) (internal citation omitted) ("This Court affords a district court substantial discretion in managing discovery and reviews the denial or granting of a motion to compel discovery for abuse of discretion."). "The latitude given the district court extends as well to the manner in which it orders the course and scope of discovery." Ardrey, 798 F.2d at 682 (citations omitted).

"Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. Relevant information includes "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); see Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947) (explaining that "the deposition-discovery rules are to be accorded a broad and liberal treatment" because "[m]utual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper litigation, " and a party's mere claim that the other side is engaging in a "fishing expedition" cannot "preclude a party from inquiring into the facts underlying his opponent's case"). However, a party may not merely assert that requested materials may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence without presenting any intelligible explanation of how that is so. See Cook v. Howard, 484 F.App'x 805, 813 (4th Cir. 2012) (unpublished per curiam opinion) (describing this type of behavior as "the quintessential fishing expedition"); Woodson v. McGeorge Camping Ctr., Inc., 974 F.2d 1333, at *7 (4th Cir. 1992) (unpublished table decision) (stating that the Fourth Circuit has "never sanctioned fishing expeditions")

"All discovery is subject to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Rule 26(b)(2)(C) states:

"On motion or on its own, the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rules if it determines that:
(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, ...

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