Bell et al v. Ace Insurance Company of the Midwest
ORDER granting 38 Motion to Compel Compliance and for Sanctions. By September 24, 2020, Ace will fully respond, consistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to all outstanding discovery at issue here. By September 29, 2020, Plaintiff s may file an affidavit attesting to the fees and costs associated with filing the motion to compel, to which Ace may respond by October 6, 2020 to the reasonableness of the fees and costs only. See Order for further details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Nicholas P. Mizell on 9/15/2020. (brh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FORT MYERS DIVISION
WILLIAM BRADLEY BELL and
Case No. 2:20-cv-309-FtM-66NPM
ACE INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE
Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Compliance and For Sanctions
(Doc. 38). Defendant Ace Insurance Company of the Midwest (“Ace”) did not respond to
the motion and the time to respond has lapsed. For the reasons discussed below, the
motion is granted.
At the preliminary pretrial conference held on June 25, 2020, Plaintiffs’ counsel
explained that prior to removal, Ace’s responses to written discovery were already
overdue. (Doc. 38, p. 1). At the hearing, defense counsel agreed to respond to the
outstanding discovery. (Id., p. 2; Doc. 31, p. 1). Memorializing the hearing, the Court in
its July 25, 2020 Order directed Ace to respond “promptly” to the discovery served prior
to removal. (Doc. 31, pp. 1).
Plaintiffs’ counsel contacted Defendant’s counsel repeatedly by email and
telephone from July 8, 2020 through August 19, 2020, to obtain complete responses.
(Doc 38, p. 2). Finally, on July 29, 2020, Plaintiffs received responses to requests for
production but did not receive answers to interrogatories. (Id.). And as of the date of the
motion, Ace had still failed to answer the interrogatories. (Id.).
Through discovery, a party may obtain nonprivileged information relevant to any
party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case. Fed. R. Civ. P.
26(b)(1). Pursuant to the applicable rules, a court has broad discretion to compel or deny
discovery. Harrison v. Culliver, 746 F.3d 1288, 1297 (11th Cir. 2014).
Under Rule 33, any untimely objections to interrogatories are “waived unless the
court, for good cause, excuses the failure.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(4); see also Middle
District Discovery (2015) at 16 (“Absent compelling circumstances, failure to assert
objections to an interrogatory within the time for answers constitutes a waiver and will
preclude a party from asserting the objection in a response to a motion to compel.”). Thus,
with the exception of privilege or work-product protection, Ace waived any objections to
The Court will therefore direct Ace to respond to the outstanding interrogatories by
September 24, 2020. Plaintiffs are directed to immediately notify the Court of any failure
by Ace to meet this deadline.
When granting a motion to compel, the Court must award the prevailing party
reasonable expenses (with certain exceptions not applicable here), including attorney’s
fees, related to submitting the motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(5). The Court must allow the
losing party an opportunity to be heard as to the reasonableness of the expenses. Fed.
R. Civ. P. 37(a)(5).
Ace failed to respond to both the discovery and the motion to compel—even after
agreeing and being ordered to respond to the outstanding discovery promptly. Under
these circumstances, the Court finds an award of expenses just and appropriate. By
September 29, 2020, Plaintiffs may file an affidavit attesting to the fees and costs
associated with pursuing the discovery responses and preparing and filing the motion to
compel, to which Ace may file a response by October 6, 2020, that only addresses the
reasonableness of the fees and costs and not the entitlement to them.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED:
The Motion to Compel Compliance and for Sanctions (Doc. 38) is
All of Ace’s objections, except for privilege and work product protection are
waived as to the outstanding interrogatories at issue.
On or before September 24, 2020, Ace will fully respond, consistent with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to all outstanding discovery at issue
On or before September 29, 2020, Plaintiffs may file an affidavit attesting
to the fees and costs associated with filing the motion to compel, to which
Ace may respond by October 6, 2020 to the reasonableness of the fees
and costs only.
DONE and ORDERED in Fort Myers, Florida on September 15, 2020.
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