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Mills v. General Motors, LLC

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

September 26, 2017

Michael Mills and Shirley Mills, Plaintiffs,
v.
General Motors, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to compel production of documents (Dkt. No. 25) and Plaintiffs' motion to compel deposition (Dkt. No. 26). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffs' motion to compel production of documents, and grants Plaintiffs' motion to compel deposition.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs allege that on April 8, 2016, Michael Mills and Shirley Mills' 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray caught fire while parked in their garage. The fire spread to their residence at 1885 Omni Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, which was ultimately destroyed by the fire. Plaintiffs assert design or manufacturing defects in the vehicle caused the fire.

         Plaintiffs have filed two motions to compel discovery. In their motion to compel production of documents, Plaintiffs seek the Court's ruling on various objections Defendant stands upon in withholding requested documents. In their motion to compel deposition, Plaintiffs assert that Defendant's counsel made improper leading speaking objections during the deposition of Defendant's Rule 30(b)(6) representative, and that Defendant produced approximately 600 pages of documents during breaks in the deposition that should have been produced before the deposition. Plaintiffs ask the Court to order Defendant's Rule 30(b)(6) representative to be available for an additional two days of deposition. Plaintiffs also seek costs and attorneys' fees for additional deposition days.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         District courts have "wide latitude in controlling discovery and [their] rulings will not be overturned absent a showing of clear abuse of discretion." Ardrey v. United Parcel Serv., 798 F.2d 679, 683 (4th Cir. 1986); Middleton v. Nissan Motor Co., Civ. No. 10-2529, 2012 WL 3612572, at *2 (D.S.C. Aug. 21, 2012).

         Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in part,

[(b)](6) Notice or Subpoena Directed to an Organization. In its notice or subpoena, a party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination. The named organization must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify. A subpoena must advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make this designation. The persons designated must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization. This paragraph (6) does not preclude a deposition by any other procedure allowed by these rules.
. . .
(c) Examination and Cross-Examination; Record of the Examination; Objections; Written Questions.
. . .
Objections. An objection at the time of the examination-whether to evidence, to a party's conduct, to the officer's qualifications, to the manner of taking the deposition, or to any other aspect of the deposition-must be noted on the record, but the examination still proceeds; the testimony is taken subject to any objection. An objection must be stated concisely in a nonargumentative and nonsuggestive manner. A person may instruct a deponent not to answer only when necessary to preserve a privilege, to enforce a limitation ordered by the court, or to present a motion under Rule 30(d)(3).

         Additionally, this Court has local rules governing conduct during depositions that forbid leading objections. Local Civil Rule 30.04 DSC.

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion to Compel ...


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