United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
CHARLES R. SMITH PLAINTIFF
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY DEFENDANT
KRISTINE G. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is plaintiff Charles R. Smith's motion to
compel Rule 30(b)(6) deposition, to strike objections, to
produce documents, to answer discovery, and for sanctions
filed against defendant BNSF Railway Company
("BNSF") (Dkt. No. 23). BNSF responded in
opposition to the motion, and Mr. Smith filed a reply (Dkt.
Nos. 25, 29). Also before the Court is BNSF's motion for
protective order regarding plaintiffs notice of 30(b)(6)
deposition and document requests (Dkt. No. 26). Mr. Smith
responded in opposition to the motion for protective order
(Dkt. No. 30). For the following reasons, the Court grants,
in part, and denies, in part, Mr. Smith's motion to
compel and BNSF's motion for protective order (Dkt. Nos.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged
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
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
resisting otherwise relevant discovery, "the party from
whom discovery is sought must show that the information is
not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If
that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order
discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows
good cause . . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(B). When
weighing the proportionality of the discovery to the needs of
the case, courts should consider "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."
Court understands that Mr. Smith has now been deposed by BNSF
but that the discovery disputes regarding a Rule 30(b)(6)
deposition of a BNSF representative persist (Dkt. No. 26-1,
at 4). With this Order, the Court directs the parties to
confer regarding a reasonable date and time for supplementing
responses to discovery requests, where directed by this
Order, and for scheduling the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. The
Court makes the following determinations.
Smith moves to compel BNSF to withdraw its objections and to
answer fully Interrogatory No. 4 (Dkt. No. 23-1, at 3-4).
This is the only interrogatory the Court understands to be in
discovery request propounded by Mr. Smith and objections,
answer, and supplemental answer by BNSF are:
4. If Defendant communicated any warning or instruction to
Plaintiff about the operation, installation and/or otherwise
handling of multi-use ("MU") cables, MU receptacles
and/or related equipment, (including but not limited to the
installation of an MU cable into locomotive BNSF 2885 near
the Harvard Yard), describe in detail and to the best of
Defendant's ability to content of such warning or
instruction, and the name or names of the person(s) who
communicated the warning to Plaintiff.
ANSWER: BNSF objects to this interrogatory as overly broad;
it is not limited to a relevant and reasonable time period,
not sufficiently limited in scope as to "related
equipment." BNSF further objects to the term
"warning" on the grounds it is argumentative, and
therefore, vague and ambiguous. BNSF also objects on the
grounds the request is vague and ambiguous as to what is mean
by "otherwise handling." For these reasons, the
interrogatory also seeks information that is not relevant to
the claim or defense of any party and is not proportional to
the needs of the case. Subject to and without waiving the
foregoing objections, BNSF responds by referring Plaintiff to
the documents produced by BNSF in response to Plaintiffs
Request for Production No. 8 and its response to Plaintiffs
Request for Production No. 27.
SUPPLEMENTAL ANSWER: See additional documents produced
herewith concerning New Hire Conductor Training
(collectively, # 001161 [folder on USB drive]), which may
contain responsive information.
(Dkt. No. 23-7, at 3-4).
Court overrules BNSF's objection as to the time period of
Interrogatory No. 4. BNSF clearly has produced some documents
responsive to Interrogatory No. 4, but BNSF has not
identified the time period for which it produced documents or
whether BNSF limited the time period for its response to
Interrogatory No. 4, if it in fact did so. At this stage, the
Court overrules BNSF's proportionality objection because
BNSF has put forth no information or record evidence to
assist the Court in making a determination regarding
proportionality, including but not limited to information or
evidence with respect to the cost in dollars and time of
responding to such a request. To the extent BNSF withheld
information or documents responsive to Interrogatory No. 4 on
the basis of this objection, the Court directs BNSF to
supplement further its response to Interrogatory No. 4 in
accord with this ruling.
Court overrules BNSF's objection to the term
"warning." To the extent BNSF withheld information
or documents responsive to Interrogatory No. 4 on the basis
of this objection, the Court directs BNSF to supplement
further its response to Interrogatory No. 4 in accord with
Court sustains BNSF's objection to the phrase
by referring Mr. Smith to documents, if BNSF has not
responded fully to Interrogatory No. 4 by, for example,
providing the name or names of persons who communicated ...