United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. POPLIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02.
before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Deem Requests
for Admissions to Plaintiffs Admitted [Doc.
The parties appeared before the Court on June 16, 2019, for a
motion hearing. Attorney Aubrey Givens appeared on behalf of
Plaintiffs. Attorney Jamie Ballinger Holden appeared on
behalf of Defendants. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN
PART Defendants’ Motion [Doc.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36, Defendants request
that their First Set of Requests for Admission
(“Requests for Admission”) to Plaintiffs be
deemed admitted for all purposes. For grounds, Defendants
state that they served Plaintiffs with the Requests for
Admission on or about September 25, 2018, rendering the
response due on or about October 25, 2018. Defendants state
that as of the date of the Motion (i.e., January 17, 2019),
Plaintiffs had not served Defendants with a written answer or
objections. Defendants submit that because more than thirty
(30) days have passed since Plaintiffs were served with the
Requests for Admission, the unanswered Requests for Admission
are deemed admitted under Rule 36.
filed a Response in opposition to the Motion. Plaintiffs
state that they have responded to the first thirteen (13)
Requests for Admission. Plaintiffs state that the remaining
unanswered Requests for Admission are improper and fail to
comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs
state that Defendants’ multiple Requests for Admission
should have been served as interrogatories because requests
for admission are used to establish facts and not to discover
them. Further, Plaintiffs state that Defendants propounded an
unreasonable number of Requests for Admission and that
Defendants could not have reasonably expected that the
Requests for Admission would be admitted. In addition,
Plaintiffs state that such abusive discovery tactics can
constitute a violation of the Tennessee Rules of Professional
Conduct Finally, Plaintiffs submit that if any Requests for
Admission should be deemed admitted, they should be limited
to those that go towards establishing a fact.
reply that in their Requests for Admission, they sought an
admission that Plaintiffs signed the contract at issue, used
the points from timeshare purchases and other timeshare
benefits, or spoke to certain timeshare relief companies.
Defendants state that Plaintiffs have not provided any
explanation as to why they failed to respond to the Requests
for Admission within the time permitted under Rule 36.
Defendants state that Rule 36 is self-executing and maintain
that the Requests for Admission should be deemed admitted.
Court has considered the parties’ filings and the oral
arguments presented at the hearing. Accordingly, for the
reasons more fully explained below, the Court finds
Defendants’ Motion [Doc. 26] well taken, in part.
the hearing in this matter, Defendants explained that there
are approximately ten similar cases where they used Requests
for Admission to streamline discovery. Defendants stated that
their Requests for Admission inquire about certain documents
and contracts and communications with timeshare relief
companies. Defendants maintained that Rule 36 is
self-executing. Defendants stated that Plaintiffs responded
to a portion of the Requests for Admission on or about
January 30, 2019, after the instant Motion was filed.
Defendants acknowledged that the Requests for Admission that
Plaintiffs had not responded to generally relate to
communications and/or contact with other timeshare relief
companies. Defendants state that they inquired about such
communications for impeachment purposes.
acknowledge that they did not respond to the Requests for
Admission within the thirty (30) days as provided under Rule
36. Plaintiffs submitted that they were not required to
respond to the Requests for Admission because they are
improper and were served to harass Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs
disputed Defendants’ claim that they (Defendants) are
trying to streamline discovery and stated that Defendants are
using the Requests for Admission to sue timeshare relief
companies. Plaintiffs stated that they responded to the
Requests for Admission that seek facts, but they did not
respond to the Requests for Admission that seek information
relating to communications to timeshare relief companies.
Plaintiffs argued that Rule 36 is not self-executing and that
the Requests for Admission are not proportional to the needs
of this case.
Court will begin with Rule 36. Specifically, Rule 36(a)
provides as follows:
(3) Time to Respond; Effect of Not
Responding. A matter is admitted unless, within
30 days after being served, the party to whom the request is
directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or
objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or
its attorney. A shorter or longer time for responding may be
stipulated to under Rule 29 or be ordered by the court.
Rule 36(b), a request for admission that is not responded to
within the applicable time period “is conclusively
established unless the court on motion permits withdrawal or
amendment of the admission.” Kerry Steel, Inc. v.
Paragon Indus., Inc., 106 F.3d 147, 153 (6th Cir. 1997)
(citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(b)); but see U.S. v.
Petroff-Kline, 557 F.3d 285, 293 (6th Cir. 2009) (noting
that the “failure to respond in a timely fashion does
not require the court ...