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Davenport v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd.

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

December 13, 2016

Maria Davenport, Arnold Davenport, and Demorio Davenport, Plaintiffs,
v.
Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd., and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiffs Maria Davenport, Arnold Davenport, and Demorio Davenport filed this action against Defendants Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company seeking to recover damages for injuries suffered after the tread of the tire manufactured by Defendants separated, causing Plaintiff's vehicle to rollover. (ECF No. 1 at 2.)

         This matter is before the court pursuant to only Defendant Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's (“Goodyear Tire”) Motion to Compel Full Responses to Defendant's Interrogatories and Requests for Production to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport and Plaintiff Demorio Davenport (collectively “Plaintiffs”). (ECF No. 29.) Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Compel. (ECF No. 32.)

         For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Goodyear Tire's Motion to Compel (ECF No. 29) for Interrogatory No. 3 and Request for Production (“RFP”) Nos. 1, 7, 33, and 34 related to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport; and Interrogatory Nos. 3 in part, 7, 9 and RFP Nos. 1, 7, 32, and 33 related to Plaintiff Demorio Davenport. The court DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Goodyear Tire's Motion to Compel Interrogatory No. 9, and RFP Nos. 13, 27, 32, and 36 related to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport; and Interrogatory Nos. 3 in part, 13, 16 and RFP Nos. 13, 26, 31, and 35-38 related to Demorio Davenport.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On October 5, 2012, Plaintiff Maria Davenport was driving her vehicle, with Plaintiff Demorio Davenport and Plaintiff Devon Davenport riding as passengers. Plaintiffs allege that the left rear tire[1] of the vehicle separated, causing the vehicle to overturn, which resulted in severe injuries to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs assert claims against Defendants under theories of negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty, that the tire was defective. Plaintiff Arnold Davenport filed a claim for loss of consortium On January 29, 2016, Goodyear Tire served its First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production on Plaintiff Arnold and Plaintiff Demorio Davenport. (ECF No. 21-1.) Plaintiffs failed to timely respond to Goodyear Tire's discovery requests Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2) and 34(b)(2)(A). On March 9, 2016, Goodyear Tire notified Plaintiffs' Counsel that the discovery responses were past due. (ECF No. 29-2.) On March 28, 2016, both parties agreed to a time extension, which allowed Plaintiffs to respond to the discovery requests no later than April 6, 2016. (ECF No. 29-3.) On April 4, 2016, Plaintiffs served their answers and objections to Goodyear Tire's discovery requests. (ECF No. 29-4.)

         On April 21, 2016, Goodyear Tire sent a meet and confer letter to Plaintiffs' Counsel, requesting more full and complete responses to: (1) Interrogatories to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport Nos. 3 and 9; (2) Interrogatories to Plaintiff Demorio Davenport, Nos. 3, 7, 9, 13, and 16; (3) Requests for Production to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport Nos. 1, 7, 13, 27, 32-34, and 36; and (4)

         Requests for Production to Plaintiff Demorio Davenport Nos. 1, 7, 13, 26, 31-33, and 35-38. (ECF No. 29-5.)

         Additionally, Goodyear Tire requested verification of Plaintiffs' answers and clarification of Plaintiff Arnold Davenport's Reponses to Requests for Production Nos. 3, 6-9, 11, 12, 14-18, 26, 28, 29, and 35, and Plaintiff Demorio Davenport's Reponses to Requests for Production Nos. 3, 6, 7, 13-15, 17, 18, and 28. (ECF No. 29-5.) Plaintiffs did not supplement or provide any additional responses, and the parties were unable to resolve the deficiencies that Goodyear Tire argues are present in Plaintiffs' responses.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The amendment to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 provides that “[p]arties 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 the 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).[2] The scope of discovery permitted by Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 is designed to provide a party with information reasonably necessary to afford a fair opportunity to develop its case. Natl Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, P.A. v. Murray Sheet Metal Co., Inc., 967 F.2d 980, 983 (4th Cir. 1992).

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(3) requires that each interrogatory must, to the extent there is no objection, to be answered separately and fully in writing under oath. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1)(A) permits a party to serve upon any other party a request within the scope of Rule 26(b) to produce and permit the requesting party to inspect, copy, test, or sample any designated tangible things. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(B) requires that for each item or category, the response must either state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested or state with specificity the grounds for objecting to the requests, including the reasons.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 states that “[o]n notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). “For purposes of [Rule 37(a)], an evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). Specifically, a party “may move for an order compelling an answer, designation, production, or inspection.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). Broad discretion is given to a district court's decision to grant or deny a motion to compel. See, e.g., Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc., v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Goodyear Tire seeks to compel answers to the following Interrogatories and Requests for Production from Plaintiffs. The court addresses each of the interrogatories below as follows:

A. Interrogatory No. 3 to Arnold Davenport and Interrogatory No. 7 to Demorio Davenport: Do you contend that you have lost any income, benefits or earning capacity in the past or future as a result of the incident described in the Complaint? If so, state the nature of the income, benefits, or earning capacity, and the amount and the method that you used in computing the amount.

(ECF No. 29 at 5.)

         The Court's Ruling

         Plaintiffs allege that they missed work because of the injuries they suffered in the accident. (ECF No. 29 at 5.) Plaintiffs' answer stated that an attempt to calculate the amount of lost wages would be provided once completed. (ECF No. 29 at 5.) At this time, that information has not been provided.

         The amended Rule 26 dictates that “[p]arties 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 . . . [including] the amount in controversy.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The court finds that Plaintiffs' answers fail to address lost income, benefits, or earning capacity and fail to specify the amount lost or any suggestion of a potential method to calculate an amount. Consequently, Plaintiffs are directed to answer Goodyear Tire's interrogatory regarding lost income, benefits, or earning capacity due to injuries suffered; the nature of the income, benefits, or earning capacity; the specific amount of lost income, benefits, or earning capacity; and the method used in calculating that amount.

         Therefore, the court GRANTS Goodyear Tire's Motion to Compel Full Responses to Interrogatories No. 3 to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport and No. 7 to Plaintiff Demorio Davenport.

B. Interrogatory No. 9 to Arnold Davenport and Interrogatory No. 16 to Demorio Davenport: If you or anyone acting on your behalf has had any communications with [Goodyear Tire] or someone you believe or believes to be a representative of these entities with respect to any subject that is relevant to the claims made by you in this lawsuit, please state the date, circumstances, and substances of each such communication.

(ECF No. 29 at 6-7.)

         The Court's Ruling

         First, Plaintiffs objected to the interrogatory and claimed the communications are work product. (Id.) However, in the response to Goodyear Tire's Motion, Plaintiffs assert that there are no communications or correspondence with any party related to these claims, other than those through counsel for Goodyear Tire. (ECF No. 32 at 3.) The court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently answered the interrogatory. If Plaintiffs acquire documents relating to this interrogatory, then that information should be shared with Goodyear Tire pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 26.

         Therefore, Interrogatory No. 9 to Plaintiff Arnold Davenport and No. 16 to Plaintiff Demorio Davenport are DENIED without prejudice.

C. Interrogatory No. 3 to Demorio Davenport: Set forth an itemized statement of all damages, exclusive of pain and suffering, claimed to have been sustained by Plaintiff.

(ECF No. 29 at 7-8.)

         The Court's Ruling

         Plaintiff Demorio Davenport failed to provide an itemization of lost wages, but did offer a list of damages. As a result, the court finds that this answer is incomplete regarding the itemization of lost wages. However, the court finds that Plaintiff's answer to Interrogatory No. 2, coupled with the answer to Interrogatory No. ...


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