Greenwood et al v. Point Meadows Place Condominium Association et al
ORDER denying without prejudice for failure to comply with Local Rule 3.01(g) 46 Motion to compel. See order for details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Morris on 11/7/2011. (DLC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
BETH ANN GREENWOOD,
CASE NO. 3:10-cv-1183-J-34TEM
POINT MEADOWS PLACE
CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC.,
This case is before the Court on Defendant Severn Trent Environmental Services,
Inc.’s Motion to Compel More Complete Discovery Responses (Doc. #46, Motion to
Compel), which was filed on October 28, 2011. Upon review of the instant motion, the
Court finds the sought relief is clearly due to be denied without prejudice, and therefore
enters this ruling without awaiting the normal response period.1
As a general matter, motions to compel disclosures and other discovery under Rule
37(a) are committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. Commercial Union Insurance
Co. v. Westrope, 730 F.2d 729, 731 (11th Cir. 1984). The trial court's exercise of discretion
regarding discovery orders will be sustained absent a finding of abuse of that discretion to
the prejudice of a party. Id. The overall purpose of discovery under the Federal Rules is
to require the disclosure of all relevant information so that the ultimate resolution of
disputed issues in any civil action may be based on a full and accurate understanding of
See Local Rule 1.01(c), wherein the Court may suspend application and
enforcement of the local rules in whole or in part in the interests of justice.
the true facts, and therefore embody a fair and just result. United States v. Proctor &
Gamble Co., 356 U.S. 677, 682 (1958). Discovery is intended to operate with minimal
judicial supervision unless a dispute arises and one of the parties files a motion involving
judicial intervention. "The rules require that discovery be accomplished voluntarily; that is,
the parties should affirmatively disclose relevant information without the necessity of court
orders compelling disclosure." Bush Ranch v. E.I. DuPont Nemours and Co., 918 F. Supp.
1524, 1542 (M.D. Ga. 1995).
This case was filed in federal court on December 23, 2010. Defendant reports
propounding its First Set of Interrogatories and First Request for Production of Documents
to Plaintiffs on September 9, 2011 (see Doc. #46 at 1).2 Plaintiffs were reportedly given an
extension until October 14, 2011 to serve discovery responses. Defendant Severn Trent’s
counsel advises he “wrote a detailed letter to Plaintiffs’ counsel on October 21, 2011,
outlining various deficiencies in Plaintiffs’ responses and requesting supplemental
responses,” which reportedly were provided, but remain deficient according to Severn
Trent’s counsel (see generally, Doc. #46).
Upon review of the instant motion, the Court finds that Defendant’s counsel failed
to confer in a good faith effort to resolve the issues raised in the motion to compel prior to
filing the instant motion. Defendant’s counsel reports, “Specifically, prior to filing this motion,
the undersigned counsel sent a letter detailing the deficiencies in Plaintiffs’ discovery
responses, and waited for supplemental discovery answers to be produced. Plaintiffs,
The Court has not received the required courtesy copy of the instant motion with
the attachments. (See Doc. #2, Amended Standing Order, requiring submission of paper
courtesy copies of all documents exceeding twenty-five (25) pages in length.) The instant
motion, including attachments, is comprised of a total of 218 pages.
however, have not corrected all of the deficiencies.” Id. at 9.
The undersigned does not
believe that a single piece of written correspondence outlining purported deficiencies with
discovery responses is a sufficient effort to confer in good faith with opposing counsel to
resolve a pretrial dispute. Moreover, one way communication does not comport with the
Court’s interpretation of the moving party’s obligation to confer with the opposing counsel.
See Lippy v. Metropolitan Casualty Ins. Co., No. 3:10-CV-727-J-34MCR, 2010 WL
4007035, *1 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 13, 2010) (denying the defendant’s motion to compel for failure
to confer either in person or by phone under Local Rule 3.01(g)); O’Rear v. Greenwich Ins.
Co., No. 8:09-cv-1903-T-26TGW, 2010 WL 2869475, *1 (M.D. Fla. Jul. 21, 2010) (directing
the parties to confer personally within seven days in a good faith effort to resolve the
pending discovery disputes without court intervention). The spirit of Local Rule 3.01(g)
requires the parties actually speak to each other in an attempt to resolve the disputed
issues. With respect to Local Rule 3.01(g), the Court has noted "[t]he purpose of the rule
is to require the parties to communicate and resolve certain types of disputes without court
intervention." Desai v. Tire Kingdom, Inc., 944 F.Supp. 876, 878 (M.D. Fla. 1996). A
number of judges in the Middle District of Florida have construed the mandates of Rule
3.01(g) to "mean to speak to each other in person or by telephone, in a good faith attempt
to resolve disputed issues." Davis v. Apfel, No. 6:98-cv-651-ORL-22A, 2000 WL 1658575
(M.D. Fla. Aug. 14, 2000); see also, Espinal v. Professional Recovery Servs., Inc., No.
3:10-cv-131-J-32TEM (M.D. Fla. Oct. 29, 2010); Lippy v. Metropolitan Cas. Ins. Co., 2010
WL 40007035 at *1; Judkins v. Bloomers International, Inc., No. 8:09-cv-02538-T-17TBM,
2010 WL 2510665, *2 (M.D. Fla. Jun. 21, 2010); Goodbys Creek, LLC v. Arch Ins. Co., No.
3:07-cv-947-J-34HTS, 2008 WL 5263701, *1 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 17, 2008).3 Many disputes
are more easily resolved when the parties actually speak with each other.
Additionally, the Middle District Discovery Handbook provides:
Local Rule 3.01(g), requiring certification of a good faith conference before
any discovery motion is filed, is strictly enforced. Many potential discovery
disputes are resolved (or the differences narrowed or clarified) when counsel
confer in good faith.
Middle District Discovery (2001) at 20. Here, as in other discovery disputes, the Court
believes if counsel for Defendant and counsel for Plaintiffs had actually conferred on the
telephone or in person before the instant motion was filed, there would have been no need
for Court involvement. See Lippy v. Metropolitan Casualty Ins. Co., 2010 WL 4007035 at
*2; O’Rear v. Greenwich Ins. Co., 2010 WL 2869475 at *1. Thus, the Court is reluctant to
accept the mailing of a letter complaining of the inadequacy of Plaintiffs’ responses as
sufficient communication in this particular instance. The Court admonishes the parties that
either side might have resolved the dispute over the sought discovery by contacting the
other via phone or in person. See also, Digiro v. Pall Aeropower Corp., 19 F.Supp.2d 1304,
1306 (M.D. Fla. 1998) (noting that “Plaintiff’s Motion Requesting More Time to Respond
was denied by the court . . . for failure to comply with Local Rule 3.01(g).”); DeShiro v.
Branch, 183 F.R.D. 281, 284 (M.D. Fla. 1998) (noting that the court previously denied a
motion for order awarding attorneys fees for failure to comply with Local Rule 3.01(g)).
Thus, upon due consideration, the Court finds Defendant Severn Trent
Environmental Services, Inc.’s Motion to Compel More Complete Discovery Responses
Unpublished opinions are not considered binding authority; however, they may be
cited as persuasive authority pursuant to the Eleventh Circuit Rules. 11th Cir. R. 36-2.
(Doc. #46) shall be DENIED without prejudice. Defendant is directed to confer, as soon
as possible, directly with Plaintiffs’ counsel in an effort to resolve the outstanding discovery
disputes. If necessary, Defendant is given leave to re-file the motion to compel after
exhausting attempts to resolve the disputes and certifying the compliance with Local Rule
3.01(g) to the Court. In view of other rapidly approaching deadlines, Defendant should
promptly re-file any necessary motion to compel.
DONE AND ORDERED at Jacksonville, Florida this 7th day of November, 2011.
All Counsel of Record
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