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Thomason v. Toyota Motor Corp.

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

February 3, 2017

William Thomason, Jr. as Executor and Surviving Closest Relative of William Poole Thomason and Eugenia McCuen Thomason, Plaintiff,
v.
Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Engineering & Mfg., North America, Inc., Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc., and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiff William Thomason, Jr., the Executor and the Surviving Closest Relative of William Poole Thomason and Eugenia McCuen Thomason, filed an action against Defendants Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc., Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and Toyota Motor Corporation (collectively “Defendants”), seeking economic, non-economic, and punitive damages for “the untimely deaths of William Poole Thomason and Eugenia McCuen Thomason.” (ECF No. 1 at 12-13.)

         This matter is before the court pursuant to Defendants' Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2). (ECF No. 98.) Defendants request that the court compel “Plaintiff to produce his experts' work product, references and other supporting data.” (ECF No. 98 at 4.)

         For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2) (ECF No. 98).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants alleging (1) negligence resulting in the death of William Poole Thomason and Eugenia McCuen Thomason (ECF No. 1 at 7), (2) violation of federal motor vehicle safety standards (ECF No. 1 at 10), and (3) breach of warranties (ECF No. 1 at 12).

         On December 20, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2) stating that “[p]laintiff has served his Rule 26(a)(2) disclosures and supplemental expert disclosures of his design expert, Neil Hanneman, without supplying or otherwise adequately identifying certain information that the expert relies on for his opinions.” (ECF No. 98 at 1.)

         On January 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition and argued “Defendants' motion does not account for the 2.29 [gigabytes] of additional files associated solely with [Neil Hannemann's] report and opinions.” (ECF No. 101 at 2.)

         On January 11, 2017, Defendants filed a Reply to the Response in Opposition and claimed that the documents supplied by Plaintiff are insufficient because they “do not appear to contain the . . . information outlined in [Defendants'] Motion.” (ECF No. 103 at 2.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The amended 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). The scope of discovery permitted by Rule 26 is designed to provide a party with information reasonably necessary to afford a fair opportunity to develop its case. Nat'l 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, 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, “[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. ...


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