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G'Francisco v. Gofit, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

January 20, 2015

MARK A. G'FRANCISCO, Plaintiff,
v.
GOFIT, LLC, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN S. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff G'Francisco has filed his motion to compel, for sanctions, and to modify the initial case management order (Docket Entry No. 49). Defendant GoFit, LLC has filed a response in opposition (Docket Entry No. 57), and Plaintiff has filed a reply (Docket Entry No. 60).

For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Plaintiff G'Francisco has filed this product liability action seeking damages for personal injuries that he allegedly sustained while using a home exercise product sold by Defendant GoFit, LLC. Plaintiff asserts claims of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty (Docket Entry No. 40). Defendants GoFit and Bob Harper Enterprises have filed answers denying liability and asserting affirmative defenses (Docket Entry Nos. 45 and 46).

SUMMARY OF PERTINENT FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges that on October 4, 2012, he received personal injuries while using a Bob Harper 15-30 Pound Resistance Powerband device sold by Defendant Go-Fit, LLC. This device consists of two rubber resistance bands that are attached to a door anchor component. G'Francisco alleges that he placed the door anchor underneath the closet door in his bedroom and then closed the door and began exercising using the device. He claims that after several repetitions of exercise the door anchor suddenly became dislodged from underneath the closet door and recoiled in slingshot fashion causing the door anchor to strike him violently in the left eye. As a result, G'Francisco alleges that he has permanently lost sight in his left eye. He claims that the Powerband exercise device sold by Defendants, and particularly its door anchor component, was defective and unreasonably dangerous, and that the warnings provided with this product were inadequate and insufficient.

Defendants deny these claims and assert that G'Francisco used the device improperly and contrary to warnings provided with the product.

ANALYSIS

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides generally that parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense, and that relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. G'Francisco in his motion to compel asserts multiple shortcomings in Defendants' responses to his interrogatories and requests for production of documents. The undersigned will address these complaints in the sequence in which they appear in Plaintiff's motion (Docket Entry No. 49).

"Overly broad and unduly burdensome" objections. G'Francisco complains that in almost every response to his interrogatories or requests for production Defendants objected on grounds that the interrogatory or request was "overly broad and unduly burdensome." Some responses also included the additional objections that the interrogatory was "vague" or "exceeds the scope of permissible discovery under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." These objections were accompanied by little or no factual explanation to support the objections of overbreadth or undue burden.[1]

In the absence of any factual explanation to support Defendants' conclusions of overbreadth or undue burden, the undersigned finds that Defendants' have failed to carry their burden to establish the merit of these objections. For this reason, Defendants' general objections of overbreadth and undue burden are overruled.

Responses "notwithstanding and without waiving" objections. Plaintiff G'Francisco also complains that Defendants' responses "notwithstanding and without waiving" objections are confusing and ambiguous. In their responses to a multitude of Plaintiff's interrogatories and requests for production, Defendants state initial objections and then state that "notwithstanding and without waiving said objections, " they provide certain responsive information. What remains unclear, according to the Plaintiff, is whether Defendants' responsive information is complete or merely part of the responsive information in their possession with the rest being withheld pursuant to their objections. Thus the phrase "notwithstanding and without waiving said objections" raises a question that the remainder of the response fails to answer: What additional responsive information, if any, is being withheld based upon the stated objection?

The undersigned Magistrate Judge finds that, in order to clear up this uncertainty, Defendants shall serve a supplemental response to each interrogatory or request for production for which their initial response contained the phrase "Notwithstanding and without waiving said objections." In such supplemental responses, Defendants shall state whether the responsive information previously provided was complete or, ...


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