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Machinery Solutions, Inc. v. Doosan Infracore America Corp.

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

November 9, 2017

Machinery Solutions, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Doosan Infracore America Corporation, and Ellison Technologies, Inc., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Plaintiff Machinery Solutions, Inc. (“MSI” or “Plaintiff”), filed this action seeking damages from Defendant Doosan Infracore America Corporation (“Doosan”) for terminating its dealership contract with MSI and for contracting with another distributor, Ellison Technologies, Inc. (“Ellison”). (See generally ECF No. 37.)

         This matter is before the court by way of Doosan's Motion to Compel Discovery filed on October 13, 2017. (ECF No. 154.) MSI opposes Doosan's Motion in its entirety. (ECF No. 164.)

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION

         On March 16, 2017, Doosan served Second Request(s) for Production of Documents on MSI. (ECF No. 154-1.) On May 26, 2017, MSI provided Doosan with responses to the Second Request(s) for Production of Documents. (ECF No. 154-2.) Upon review of MSI's discovery responses and/or objections, Doosan found deficient MSI's Responses to Requests Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 23, 32, 33 and 64. (ECF No. 154-5 at 5-10.) In addition, Doosan concluded that MSI had failed “to identify by Bates number the documents responsive to Request Nos. 19, 28-34, 27, 40-52, 54-56, 58, 67-69, 73-75 and 77.” (ECF No. 154 at 4 (referencing ECF No. 154-5 at 10- 11).) After the parties were unable to resolve the discovery dispute resulting from the alleged deficiencies in MSI's production, Doosan timely filed a Motion to Compel on October 13, 2017.[1](Id.) On November 3, 2017, MSI filed its Memorandum in Opposition to Doosan's Motion to Compel. (ECF No. 164.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. MSI is a corporation organized under the laws of South Carolina with its principal place of business in Lexington County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 37 at 1 ¶ 1.) Doosan is incorporated in the State of New York and Ellison is incorporated in the State of Delaware. (Id. at 2 ¶¶ 5 & 7; see also ECF No. 1 at 2-3.) Moreover, the court is satisfied that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 in accordance with MSI's representation. (ECF No. 37 at 3 ¶ 11.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Discovery Generally

         Amended Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure[2] 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, . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id.

         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. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, P.A. v. Murray Sheet Metal Co., Inc., 967 F.2d 980, 983 (4th Cir. 1992) (“the discovery rules are given ‘a broad and liberal treatment'”) (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947)). That said, discovery is not limitless and the court has the discretion to protect a party from “oppression” or “undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c).

         B. Motions to Compel

         “If a party fails to make a disclosure” required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, “any other party may move to compel disclosure and for appropriate sanction” after it 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). 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 afforded 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) (“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.”) (Internal citation omitted); Erdmann v. Preferred Research Inc., 852 F.2d 788, 792 (4th Cir. 1988); LaRouche v. Nat'l Broad. Co., 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986) (“A motion to compel discovery is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court.”).

         C. Production Under Rule 34

         Under Rule 34, “[a] party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request; . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(E)(i). “While the party producing ‘cannot attempt to hide a needle in a haystack by mingling responsive documents with large numbers of nonresponsive documents, ' the plain language of Rule 34 makes clear that ‘a responding party has no duty to organize and label the documents if it has produced them as they are kept in the usual course of business.'” Williams v. Taser Int'l, Inc., C/A No. 1:06-CV-0051-RWS, 2006 WL 1835437, at *7 (N.D.Ga. June 30, 2006) (citations omitted). However, if a party elects to produce documents ...


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