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Massey v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

June 28, 2019

VERRINA MASSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
DOLLAR TREE STORES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          SUSAN K. LEE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Verrina Massey (“Plaintiff”) claims that she was injured after slipping in a liquid spilled in an aisle of store owned by Defendant Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. (“Defendant”) and that Defendant should be held liable for the medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages she allegedly incurred as a result of the slip and fall. Currently before the Court is Defendant's motion to compel Plaintiff to respond to discovery requests concerning Plaintiff's possible reliance on a third-party litigation funding company, and her social media accounts [Doc. 34]. Plaintiff filed a response [Docs. 36 & 46], and Defendant filed a reply along with additional materials [Docs. 44 & 45]. The Court held an extensive hearing on the motion on June 28, 2019. For the reasons stated in the hearing, the motion [Doc. 34] will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. RULE 26

         The scope of discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure is broad:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

         At issue in the motion are Defendant's Interrogatories #17 & #24, and Requests for Production (“RFP”) #12 & #13.

         II. INTERROGATORY #17

         In Interrogatory #17, Defendant asks whether any recovery in this case “is or will be subject to a lien and/or subrogation interest of any litigation funding or financing companies, ” and if so, the name of the compan(ies) and the amount of the lien or subrogation interest [Doc. 35 at Page ID # 115]. As detailed more fully during the extensive hearing, the Court finds that whether the medical care Plaintiff allegedly received as a result of the fall at issue is provided on a lien basis pursuant to an agreement involving a litigation funding company is appropriately discoverable in this case. During the hearing, Plaintiff's counsel represented Plaintiff was not involved in any such litigation funding. Defendant indicated it was satisfied with the information provided, thus rendering any further dispute regarding this interrogatory moot.

         III. INTERROGATORY #24, RFP #12 & #13

         Interrogatory #24, and RFP #12 & #13 all concern Plaintiff's social media and other online accounts:

Interrogatory #24: Please state whether you maintain any social media or Internet-based accounts and, if so, list each and every platform you use, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google, MySpace, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs, or wikis. For each platform, please list your account username(s), the email address associated with each account, and approximate date each account was created.
RFP #12: For each social media or Internet-based account identified in response to Interrogatory No. 24, download and produce your data activity from the date of the incident to present. [Goes on to explain how to do this for Facebook].
RFP #13: Please provide copies of any contributions or posts you have made to any online forum, website, or social media site identified in response to Interrogatory No. 24 since the ...

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