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Amoah v. McKinney

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 14, 2016

NANA AMOAH Plaintiff,
v.
DENNIS MCKINNEY and SMITH TRANSPORT Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          DAVID H. HENNESSY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff in this automobile accident case Nana Amoah (“plaintiff”) seeks an order compelling certain discovery from defendants Dennis McKinney and Smith Transport (collectively, “defendants”). See Docket # 89. Defendants have opposed the motion and in their opposition moved for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. See Docket # 93. Plaintiff has submitted a reply. See Docket # 103. Plaintiff seeks two categories of materials: (1) responses to several requests for production of documents; and (2) a further deposition from a Smith Transport employee. For the reasons set forth herein, plaintiff’s motion is denied.

         Category I

         The first category of discovery Plaintiff seeks to compel requires little discussion beyond a review of this matter’s relevant procedural history. In an amended scheduling order, District Judge Hillman ordered the parties to complete fact discovery by November 9, 2015. See Docket # 37. On November 13, 2015, four days after the fact discovery deadline, Plaintiff filed the first iteration of the present motion to compel. See Docket # 46. In addition to being late, plaintiff’s motion lacked a Rule 7.1 certification. This court effectively excused plaintiff’s late filing by denying the motion without prejudice and permitting plaintiff “to refile his motion by May 13, 2016.” See Docket # 82 at p. 12 (emphasis added). But plaintiff did no such thing, instead taking the liberty to file a motion that largely seeks to compel different documentary materials than those sought in the original motion this court authorized him to refile. Compare Docket # 46 at pp. 9-10 (listing as the “Request[s] at issue” document requests No. 11, 17, and 20) with Docket # 89 at pp. 11-14 (listing as the “Request[s] at issue” requests No. 7 and 19).

         Before the court, therefore, is not a refiling of the original motion curing the failure to include the mandatory Rule 7.1 certification, but (except as noted and discussed below) a new motion seeking to compel discovery outside the scope of the original motion this court authorized plaintiff to refile. This new motion was filed six months after the discovery deadline Judge Hillman had ordered. Thus, to the extent plaintiff’s motion seeks materials not sought in his original filing, the motion is denied as untimely. See Berio-Ramos v. Flores-Garcia, No. 13 Civ. 1879, 2015 WL 9169678, at *2 (D.P.R. Dec. 11, 2015) (“[L]itigants are not authorized to bypass deadlines.”) (citing cases); see also Richardson v. City of New York, 326 F.App'x 580, 582 (2d Cir. 2009) (denying motion to compel filed after fact discovery deadline); Flynn v. Health Advocate, Inc., No. 03 Civ. 3764, 2005 WL 288989, at *8 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 8, 2005) (citing some of the “[m]any courts [that] have stated that Motions to Compel filed after the discovery deadline are untimely”).

         The only item which arguably survives the foregoing dismissal for untimeliness is Request # 20 for Production of Documents. Even this finding requires a generous reading of plaintiff’s discovery filings: at best, plaintiff’s original request-which seeks, obliquely, “[e]lectronic and digital records, specifically metadata for PDF documents”-overlaps with materials sought in the instant motion. Compare Request # 20 for Production of Documents with Docket # 89. In any event, the court finds that defendants have provided materials sufficiently responsive to this request. See Docket # 47-13; see also Docket # 47 at p. 2 n.3 (explaining that the attached exhibit comprises “sample pages of some of these reports and computer system screenshots for context and illustrative purposes. Many of the complete reports exceed a hundred pages.”). Thus, even treating this request as timely, it is denied. Plaintiff has not shown why the materials provided are insufficient to satisfy defendants’ discovery obligations. The portion of plaintiff’s motion seeking further documentary discovery therefore is denied as untimely or without substantive merit.

         Category II

         In both the original motion to compel and the instant “refiling, ” Plaintiff has sought a further deposition of a Smith Transport witness to testify about the company’s electronically-stored information (“ESI”).[1] Plaintiff’s argument essentially is that the prior deposition failed to address “how Smith Transport ESI is generated and used; what is it; where and how is it transmitted and received, stored, and backed-up; when and how data is destroyed; and how data can be accessed and retrieved.” See Docket # 89 at p. 10. Plaintiff avers this information is necessary to support a forensic expert’s declaration. Id. As support, plaintiff attaches a single page from the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition transcript of Smith Transport witness David Redline. See Docket # 89-6. Plaintiff takes issue with Mr. Redline expressing an “elementary understanding” of Smith Transport’s electronic control module, despite speaking with numerous people in preparation for his deposition. See id.

         Plaintiff’s argument fails. First, by attaching a single page of the deposition transcript, plaintiff offers no meaningful context for Mr. Redline’s purported lack of knowledge concerning one discrete question. In fact, what that single page does reveal is that the answer at issue was immediately followed by plaintiff’s counsel changing subjects to Mr. McKinney’s employment file, rather than pursuing the line of inquiry he now deems so crucial.[2]

         Finally and most significantly, plaintiff has not shown this request to be

relevant to [his claims] 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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). For example, plaintiff’s reply takes issue with Mr. Redline’s inability to testify about “the technical specifications of how the company’s voicemail worked or the names of the backroom servers.” See Docket # 103 at p. 8. The court fails to see how such information is either relevant, proportional to the needs of this case, or important to resolving the issue of which party was responsible for the accident which is the subject of this suit. Accordingly, the portion of plaintiff’s motion seeking a further deposition is denied.

         Defendants’ Motion for Reasonable Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

         Lastly, defendants’ opposition seeks costs and fees, a request which the court finds to have some merit. As noted, plaintiff’s current motion asks for discovery not sought in the prior submission. Plaintiff plainly has taken liberties with the limits ...


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