Hartford et al v. Monsanto Company et al
ORDER: The plaintiff's motion 77 to compel is granted in part and denied in part. See attached ruling. Signed by Judge Donna F. Martinez on 7/20/17. (Constantine, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CITY OF HARTFORD and
HARTFORD BOARD OF EDUCATION,
SOLUTIA INC. and PHARMACIA
RULING ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL
The plaintiffs, the City of Hartford and the Hartford Board of
Education, bring this action pursuant to the Connecticut Products
Liability Act against the defendants, Monsanto Company, Solutia
Inc., and Pharmacia LLC, alleging that the defendants are liable
for PCB contamination at the Clark Elementary School in Hartford,
(Doc. #71, Pls' Second Amended Compl.)
before the court is the plaintiffs' motion to compel.1
There have been a number of developments since the motion was
The court heard oral argument on June 21, 2017.
There have been numerous submissions. After the motion was
fully briefed, the defendants filed a "Supplemental Response" (doc.
#129) on April 11, 2017 in which they disclosed additional
responses to certain requests at issue in the plaintiffs' motion to
compel. On April 20, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a "reply" (doc.
#132) to defendants' supplemental response, to which the defendants
filed a response (doc. #139) on May 31, 2017. On June 2, 2017, the
plaintiffs filed a "Notice of Supplemental Authority." (Doc. #142.)
Notably, during oral argument, the court learned for the
first time that the defendants had agreed (1) to convert their
paper archive to an electronically accessible format and (2) to
provide plaintiffs access to the electronic system.
rules as follows:
Production Requests 11, 12, 13, 22, 23, 26 and 27
Request for Production 11 is granted.
In their supplemental
production, the defendants disclosed the "testimonial history" of
the individuals listed in the plaintiffs' request.
The defendants, however, object to providing the transcripts on the
grounds of relevance and burden. (Doc. #129 at 2.)
The requested information is relevant to the
plaintiffs' claims and the defendants have made no showing as to
the nature and extent of the actual burden they would face in
responding to the plaintiffs' requests.
establishing undue burden."
"Under well-settled law,
Michanczyk v. Metropolitan Life Ins.
Co., No. 3:05CV1903, 2007 WL 926911, at *2 (D. Conn. Mar. 26,
2007). See, e.g., In re Application of Bloomfield Inv. Res. Corp.,
315 F.R.D. 165, 168 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) (overruling burdensomeness
objection where objecting party did not "present particularized
evidence in their briefing that production of the . . . records
would be unduly burdensome or costly, such as an affidavit of a
person with knowledge of the record keeping system explaining in
detail the basis of the objection").
Requests for Production 12 and 13 are granted. The defendants
object that they have "already produced an extraordinary number of
transcripts" and "to the extent that [plaintiffs] seek additional
transcripts" the requests are "duplicative and seek cumulative
materials" and are not relevant.
(Doc. #89 at 11, 12.)
defendants' objections are overruled.
Interrogatory 2 is granted. Although the defendants initially
responded to the request in their Supplemental Response.
During oral argument, the plaintiffs requested that the
defendants provide additional information - namely, a description
Interrogatory 2 does not ask for this information.
declines to compel it.3
defendants shall provide the names of the plaintiffs' attorneys in
the case of Paulson v. Monsanto and the party each attorney
The defendants agreed to provide copies of the
production requests plaintiffs in that case served on defendant
(Tr. at 104.)
Counsel shall then meet and confer
regarding further disclosure.
The plaintiffs state that the defendants' supplemental
response "was not answered under oath." (Doc. #132 at 2.) Fed. R.
Civ. P. 33(b)(3)(To the extent an interrogatory is not objected to,
it must "be answered separately and fully in writing under oath.")
The defendants appear to have addressed this concern. They say
they provided the plaintiffs with a "signed verification" on May
31, 2017. (Doc. #139 at 1.)
defendants shall produce the names of the plaintiffs' attorneys in
Maertin v. Monsanto and the party each attorney represented.
Plaintiffs may contact those attorneys for discovery requests
plaintiffs in Maertin served on Monsanto.4
Requests for Admission 1-8, 12-15, 21-26, 30-33, 39-50, 52 and
The plaintiffs move to determine the sufficiency of the
defendants' responses to numerous requests for admission and to
compel the defendants to respond to Interrogatory 3, which seeks
the factual basis for requests that the defendants deny.
A party responding to requests for admission may either admit,
deny, object to the request with the reasons therefor, or set out
in detail the reasons why he or she cannot respond.
Fed. R. Civ.
"A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested
admission, and when good faith requires that a party qualify an
answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is
requested, the party shall specify so much of it as is true and
qualify or deny the remainder." Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a).
admission may require qualification when the request is ostensibly
true, but the responding party cannot in good faith admit it
improper inferences. When good faith requires that a party qualify
The defendants state that they no longer have the document
production they made in that case. (Tr. at 92.)
an answer or deny only part of a matter, the answer must specify
the part admitted and qualify or deny the rest." 7 Moore's Federal
Practice § 36.11[a] (3d ed. 2016).
The purpose of requests for admission is "to narrow issues for
Diederich v. Dep't of Army, 132 F.R.D. 614, 616 (S.D.N.Y.
"Requests for admission should be simple and direct. . . .
The requesting party bears the burden of drafting the request
clearly and specifically so that the responding party can easily
agree or disagree."
7 Moore's Federal Practice § 36.10 (3d ed.
See Dubin v. E.F. Hutton Grp. Inc., 125 F.R.D. 372, 375
(S.D.N.Y. 1989)("Each request for admission must be direct, simple
and limited to singular relevant facts . . . so that it can be
admitted or denied without explanation.")
Having considered the applicable law and the arguments made by
counsel in their written submissions and during oral argument, the
court rules as follows:
The defendants' responses to requests for admission 1, 12, 30,
41, 47, 50 and 52 are sufficient.
As to requests 22, 26, 33, 40, 44, 46 and 48, the objection is
8B Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L.
Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2254 (3rd ed. 2010)("Nor
is it ground for objection that the request relates to matters on
As to requests 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8, the objection as to
overbreadth is sustained.
As to requests 13, 15 and 31, the objection as to form is
Notwithstanding their objection, the defendants denied
As to request 49, the objection is overruled.
shall serve an amended response at the close of discovery.
15CIV0220CMJCF, 2016 WL 3570545, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 24, 2016)
(observing that it may be "prudent" to defer responses to requests
"where the responding party's answers will depend on information
developed during the discovery process").
The defendants denied requests for admission 6, 14, 21, 22,
23, 24, 25, 26, 32, 33, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 48.
36 does not require a party to explain why a request was denied,
but only why it cannot admit or deny the request."
Adobe Sys. Inc.
v. Christenson, No. 2:10-CV-00422-LRH, 2011 WL 540278, at *6 (D.
sufficiency of the defendants' responses to these requests is
The plaintiffs, however, move to compel a response to
interrogatory 3, which requests that the defendants provide a
factual basis for requests they denied. The defendants' objections
to this interrogatory are overruled.
SO ORDERED at Hartford, Connecticut this 20th day of July,
Donna F. Martinez
United States Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?