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Hometown Folks, LLC v. S&B Wilson

October 18, 2007

HOMETOWN FOLKS, LLC,
v.
S&B WILSON, INC., WILLIAM L. WILSON, AND SALLY B. WILSON, PLAINTIFF, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Mattice

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff's objection [Court Doc. No. 152] to Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order [Court Doc. No. 144] denying Plaintiff's motion to compel defendant William L. Wilson's response to interrogatories and requests for production [Court Doc. No. 79] and granting Defendants' motion for a protective order with regard to discovery requests served on William L. Wilson [Court Doc. No. 87].

For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Objection is OVERRULED.

I. STANDARD

With respect to nondispositive pretrial matters assigned to a magistrate judge for decision, a district court may reconsider the magistrate judge's decision on such matters and may overturn the decision only if it is "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Banner v. City of Flint, 99 F. App'x 29, 35 (6th Cir. 2004).

II. BACKGROUND

The relevant background is thoroughly set out in Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order denying Plaintiff's motion to compel and granting Defendants' motion for a protective order. (Court Doc. No. 144.) Plaintiff has not objected to Magistrate Judge Carter's factual background and does not object to Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order on a factual basis. The Court therefore ADOPTS by reference the Relevant Facts section of Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order [Court Doc. No. 144 at 1-13].

III. ANALYSIS

Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the time provided to respond to interrogatories and requests for production. It states: "all grounds for an objection to an interrogatory shall be stated with specificity. Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the party's failure to object is excused by the court for good cause shown." Fed. R. Civ. Proc. § 33(b)(4).

Magistrate Judge Carter found that it was likely that the Defendants had failed to state a specific objection to Plaintiff's interrogatories in a timely manner. (Court Doc. No. 144 at 15.) He denied the motion to compel, however, because "good cause exists to excuse what is arguably a technically late assertion of an objection." (Id.) Plaintiff objects to this ruling, claiming that "there is no evidence to support a finding of good cause." (Court Doc. No. 152 at 8.)

Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order explained the basis for his good cause finding. (Court Doc. No. 144 at 15-16.) The facts show that there was a dispute over whether, at a prior hearing, the parties had reached an agreement as to Mr. Wilson's role in this action. (Id. at 3-4, 15.) Following that hearing, on November 3, 2006, Magistrate Judge Carter entered an order that reflected his understanding of the parties' agreement. (Court Doc. No. 71.) The November 3, 2006 order did not, however, mention Mr. Wilson's physical or mental condition and did not rule on his capacity as a witness, although such issues had been discussed at the prior hearing. (Id.)

At some point, Plaintiff served Mr. Wilson with interrogatories and requests for production. Defendants objected and relied on the November 3, 2006 order. (Court Doc. No. 133 at 16.) Defendants also renewed their motion for a protective order. (Id.)

In its motion to compel, Plaintiff argued that Defendants had not objected to its interrogatories and requests for production with specificity within the time allowed by Rules 33 and 34. (Court Doc. No. 79 at 5-6.) Plaintiff contended that Defendants' objection citing to the November 3, 2006 order does not meet the requirement of a specific objection. (Id.)

Plaintiff also argued that the November 3, 2006 order related only to the Plaintiff's ability to depose Mr. Wilson and that it did not have any impact on Mr. Wilson's duty to respond to interrogatories and requests for information. (Id.) Magistrate Judge Carter found that "there was no doubt that the purpose of the [November 3, 2006 order] was to resolve those issues raised by the defendants' motion for a protective order. I conclude that plaintiff should have been aware by reference to the November 3, 2006 order and discussions that preceded it that defendants were raising Mr. Wilson's mental and physical conditions as a basis for objecting to the written discovery." (Court Doc. No. 144 at 16.) Accordingly, he found that good ...


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