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Stansberry v. Belk, Inc.

United States District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Chattanooga

February 9, 2015

ELIZABETH STANSBERRY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BELK, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

SUSAN K. LEE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ motion to compel [Doc. 12], in which Plaintiffs seek to compel Defendant to produce documents responsive to two of Plaintiffs’ written requests for production (“RFP”). Defendant has filed a response in opposition [Doc. 19], and Plaintiffs have filed a reply [Doc. 20]. A hearing was held regarding the motion on February 5, 2015, at which counsel for all parties were present.

I. BACKGROUND

This is a personal injury action arising out of an incident which occurred on October 18, 2013, when Plaintiff Elizabeth Stansberry fell and injured her hand (or injured her hand and fell) on a bathroom stall latch in Defendant’s Belk store at Northgate Mall. Plaintiff Elizabeth Stansberry seeks to recover for her mental and physical suffering, her medical expenses, and her loss of enjoyment of life. Plaintiff Jerry Stansberry seeks to recover for loss of consortium.

Plaintiffs have filed the instant motion seeking to compel Defendant to produce information regarding (1) other injuries that have occurred in the bathrooms of the Northgate Mall Belk store; and (2) any injuries involving a bathroom stall latch at any Belk store location. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant’s responses to RFP No. 13 and RFP No. 14 are deficient. The relevant requests and answers are reproduced as follows:

REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION NO. 13.: Please produce all documents related to any injuries incurred or reported in the restrooms at the subject store.
ANSWER: Belk objects to the extent this request asks about accidents not related to the latch and bumper on the stall door and, as such, is not relevant nor likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Belk does not have documents responsive to this request because there have been no injuries incurred or reported in the restrooms at the subject store related to the latch and bumper on the stall door.
REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION NO. 14.: Please produce all documents related to any reported injuries caused by any stall latching mechanism at any Belk location.
ANSWER: Objection. This request is asked and answered in Request No. 3. Moreover, this request is objectionable because it encompasses every Belk location across the United States of America and, thus, is overly broad and unduly burdensome. However, not waiving said objection, and as answered in Interrogatory No. 3, this Belk location has not had a prior incident or reported injury caused by any stall latching mechanism.

[Doc. 12-2 at Page ID # 101].

Defendant contends that these requests are overly broad, unduly burdensome, and irrelevant. With regard to RFP No. 13’s request for documents regarding all injuries taking place in the restrooms at the subject store, Defendant contends that this request is irrelevant to the case at hand, as only injuries involving stall latch hardware in a handicap stall would be relevant. Additionally, Defendant argues that the request is temporally overbroad, as the bathroom in question was completely remodeled in 2011. With regard to RFP No. 14’s request for documents regarding all injuries involving stall latch hardware in any Belk store, Defendant contends that responding to this request as asked would be “impossible” because

Belk would first have to review its files from every Belk store the companies [sic] inception (Plaintiffs’ request is not limited in time) to find references to bathroom stall door latch hardware. reports would have to be reviewed to determine if the incident involved someone who lost their balance and in the process of falling cut their hand on the bathroom stall door latch hardware. From there, someone at the specific store would have to physically go into each bathroom to determine if the incident involved the hardware on the handicap stall. Additionally they would have to determine if the stall door latch hardware is the same as the one on the stall door in the stall where Mrs. Stansberry fell. Since Belk does not know who manufactured the stall door latch hardware at issue, this will be impossible.

[Doc. 19 at Page ID # ...


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