United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard M. Gergel United States District Court Judge.
matter is before the Court on Third-Party Defendant Southern
Roof and Wood Care Corporation's ("Southern Roof)
motion to compel (Dkt. No. 170). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court grants the motion.
Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects, AIA was
responsible for the design and oversight of the construction
of amenity facilities for Plaintiff Hampton Hall LLC,
including a golf clubhouse, fitness center, and community
clubhouse. (Dkt. No. 34 at ¶ 3.) Defendant Choate
Construction Company ("Choate") was the general
contractor. (Dkt. No. 34 at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff filed the
present action on May 12, 2017. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) On February
14, 2018, Choate filed a third-party complaint against
several of its subcontractors involved with the construction
at issue, including Southern Roof. (Dkt. No. 38.) Southern Roof
now moves to compel discovery responses from Plaintiff
Hampton Hall, arguing that Hampton Hall failed to
substantively respond to either its interrogatories or
requests for production. (Dkt. No. 170.) Plaintiff opposes
the motion. (Dkt. No. 176.)
to a civil litigation may obtain discovery regarding
"any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense" so long as the information
is "proportional to the needs of the case...."
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
her case. See, e.g., Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of
Pittsburgh, P.A. v. Murray Sheet Metal Co., Inc., 967
F.2d 980, 983 (4th Cir. 1992) (noting that "the
discovery rules are given 'a broad and liberal
treatment'") quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329
U.S. 495, 507 (1947). The court "must limit the
frequency or extent of discovery...if it determines that 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."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i). "The scope and conduct of
discovery are within the sound discretion of the district
court." Columbus-Am. Discovery Grp. v. Atl. Mut.
Ins. Co., 56 F.3d 556, 568 n.16 (4th Cir. 1995); see
also Carefirst of Md, Inc. v. Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs.,
334 F.3d 390, 402 (4th Cir. 2003) ("Courts have broad
discretion in [their] resolution of discovery problems
arising in cases before [them].") (internal quotation
marks omitted). To enforce the provisions of Rule 26, under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, a "party may move
for an order compelling disclosure or discovery."
Hampton Hall has clearly failed to comply with its discovery
obligations here. Southern Roof first appeared in this case
on March 14, 2018, one month after being named as a
third-party defendant. (Dkt. No. 49.) On August 16, 2018,
Southern Roof served Plaintiff with its first set of
interrogatories and requests for production. (Dkt. Nos.
170-1; 170-2.) After the parties agreed that Hampton Hall
would have an additional thirty days to respond to the
discovery requests, Plaintiff sent its responses on October
22, 2018. (Dkt. Nos. 170-3; 170-4; 170-5.) The responses,
however, include various deficiencies.
and foremost, Plaintiff failed to provide substantive
responses to almost all of the interrogatories and requests
for production. Instead of producing documents or identifying
information, Plaintiff repeatedly "refer[red] to
Plaintiffs Supplemental/Amended Answers to Federal Rule
26(a)(1) Disclosures," any amendments to the disclosure,
and "all documents already produced and responses"
from other parties in the case. (Dkt. No. 170-3 at 6 - 12;
170-4 at 6 -12.) Southern Roof, however, was not a party to
the case when the Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures were served on
March 7, 2018. (Dkt.No. 176 at 2.) Furthermore, Plaintiff s
Second Supplemental Rule 26 Disclosures were only just
completed and served concurrent with Plaintiffs responses
here. (Dkt. No. 176-2.) Regardless of this recent disclosure,
Plaintiffs responses are deficient. As a district court in
the Fourth Circuit explained:
Where a party validly chooses to respond by referencing
records, he may not simply state that he has already produced
the information. Rather, the responding party must
specifically identify the documents to which an answer may be
derived. If any information asked for in the requests is not
contained in documents, Plaintiffs or the responding party
must provide supplemental] responses.
Tucker v. Momentive Performance Materials USA, Inc.,
No. 2:13-CV-04480, 2016 WL 8252929, at *9 (S.D. W.Va.
Nov. 23, 2016) (citations omitted). Plaintiff must follow
this rule here as well. To the extent Plaintiff claims the
documents or information was produced, Plaintiff must
identify which documents it relies upon. To the extent
additional relevant information is requested that Southern
Roof does not yet have, Plaintiff must provide it.
Plaintiff makes repeated general objections to discovery
requests. To the extent Plaintiff asserts that a
request is broad, vague, or burdensome, Plaintiff must
identify particular facts to support those assertions.
See Mancia v. Mayflower Textile Servs. Co., 253
F.R.D. 354, 358 (D. Md. 2008) ("[B]oilierplate
objections that a request for discovery is 'over [broad]
and unduly burdensome...' persist despite a litany of
decisions from courts, including this one, that such
objections are improper unless based on particularized
facts."). This is especially true after the 2015
Amendments to Rule 34(b)(2)(B), requiring that parties
"state with specificity the grounds for objection to the
request." See Fischer v. Forrest, No.
14CIV1304PAEAJP, 2017 WL 773694, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28,
2017) ("the responses...stating that the requests are
'overly broad and unduly burdensome' is meaningless
boilerplate. Why is it burdensome? How is it overly broad?
This language tells the Court nothing.").
as Plaintiffs responses are deficient and failed to comply
with discovery rules, the Court will direct Plaintiff to
revise its responses to Southern Roofs interrogatories and
requests for production. To the extent Plaintiff has already
produced the documents or information to Southern Roof,
Plaintiff must identify what documents or information are
responsive. To the extent Southern Roof requests documents or
information that Plaintiff has not yet produced to Southern
Roof, Plaintiff must provide the documents or information.
The Court recognizes that Plaintiff may have valid objections
to some of the interrogatories and requests, but Plaintiff
must state these objections with specificity. The Parties
should confer to the extent there are bona fide
disputes over the scope of any of the interrogatories or
The Court declines to award costs or attorneys' fees at
this time. However, the parties are on notice that repeated
failure to comply with clear rules regarding discovery and