Roberts v. Lessard et al
ORDER denying 35 Motion to Compel Discovery. Signed by Magistrate Judge Richard L. Bourgeois, Jr. on 12/1/2017. (LLH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MAJOR SHANNON LESSARD,
Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Discovery (R. Doc. 35) filed on October
13, 2017. The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 41). Plaintiff has filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 44).
Plaintiff served the discovery requests at issue on May 11, 2017. (R. Doc. 35-4).
Defendants provided responses on August 7, 2017. (R. Doc. 35-5).
On the morning of September 27, 2017, Plaintiff’s counsel sent an email to defense
counsel stating, in pertinent part, the following: “Following the deposition today . . . we will
conduct the Rule 37.1 [sic] on your client’s discovery responses.” (R. Doc. 35-13 at 3). Defense
counsel responded that she would not be available for a conference directly after the deposition.
(R. Doc. 35-13 at 2). Plaintiff’s counsel insisted that the conference take place after the
deposition despite defense counsel’s opposition. (R. Doc. 35-12; R. Doc. 35-13 at 1). The
deposition did not take place. (See R. Doc. 40).
On September 28, 2017, Plaintiff’s counsel sent an e-mail to defense counsel requesting
that she contact Plaintiff’s counsel later that day for the purpose of conducting the discovery
conference. (R. Doc. 35-11). After defense counsel responded that she was not available that
day and offered to hold a conference on October 2 and October 3, Plaintiff’s counsel stated that
she was not available on the offered dates and requested further suggested dates. (R. Doc. 35-10
at 1). On October 4, 2017, defense counsel informed Plaintiff’s counsel that she was available
for a conference on October 9 or 10 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. (R. Doc. 35-7 at 1). The next day,
Plaintiff’s counsel set the conference for October 9 at 2:00 p.m. (R. Doc. 35-7 at 1).
Plaintiff’s counsel cancelled the conference in light of a family emergency, and defense
counsel agreed to hold the conference on October 10 at 2:00 p.m. (R. Doc. 35 at 2; R. Doc. 358). Defense counsel contacted Plaintiff’s counsel on the morning of October 10 to inform her
that she was cancelling the conference in light of another appointment, further informing
Plaintiff’s counsel that she was available on October 13 at 2:00-5:00 p.m. (R. Doc. 35-8).
Plaintiff’s counsel responded by stating that she would not agree to another “extension” of the
discovery conference date and time. (R. Doc. 41-1).
On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion. (R. Doc. 35). Plaintiff seeks
supplemental responses to Interrogatory Nos. 5 and 8, and Request for Production Nos. 2, 10, 12,
and 13. Plaintiff’s counsel submits a “Rule 37 Certificate on Motion to Compel” in which she
outlines the foregoing correspondence between the parties regarding a discovery conference. (R.
Doc. 35-3). Defendants oppose the motion on the basis that Plaintiff did not participate in a
proper discovery conference before filing the Motion. (R. Doc. 41).
Law and Analysis
Rule 37(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that any motion to compel
“must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer
with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without
court action.” Failure to comply with the meet and confer requirement may constitute sufficient
reason to deny a motion to compel. Shaw Grp. Inc. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 12-257, 2014 WL
4373197, at *3 (M.D. La. Sept. 3, 2014); see also Forever Green Athletic Fields, Inc. v. Babcock
Law Firm, LLC, No. 11-633 (M.D. La. July 2, 2014) (denying motion to compel where defense
counsel made a single attempt by email to meet and confer and did not do so in a good faith
effort to resolve the dispute without court intervention).
The “Rule 37 Certificate on Motion to Compel” does not state that Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s
counsel acted in “good faith” in attempting to confer regarding the outstanding discovery in an
effort to obtain it without court action. To be clear, this is not a case where a moving party filed
a motion to compel without holding a discovery conference, despite various good faith attempts
to do so, in light of an impending discovery deadline. Discovery is not set to close in this action
until March 1, 2018. (R. Doc. 25). Defense counsel expressed a willingness to hold a discovery
conference on the very afternoon on which the instant motion was filed.
Having considered the record, the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s counsel did not attempt
to hold a conference in “good faith” as required by Rule 37(a)(1). The record indicates that
Plaintiff’s counsel’s first attempt at setting a discovery conference was a terse email to defense
counsel on the morning of a deposition, declaring that counsel “will conduct” a conference on
certain unidentified discovery responses. This is not a good faith attempt to schedule a discovery
conference. It certainly does not meet the requirement in the Court’s Scheduling Order that a
party must provide “reasonable notice” for a discovery conference. (R. Doc. 25 at 1).1 The
record further indicates that defense counsel provided certain alternative dates to hold a
conference (which Plaintiff’s counsel did not agree to) and that Plaintiff’s counsel herself
cancelled a scheduled conference date in light of a personal conflict. It was only when defense
In full, the Court’s Scheduling Order requires the following with regard to discovery motions: “Any motions filed
regarding discovery must be accompanied by a certificate of counsel for the moving party, stating that counsel have
conferred in person or by telephone for purposes of amicably resolving the issues and stating why they are unable to
agree or stating that opposing counsel has refused to so confer after reasonable notice.” (R. Doc. 25 at 1).
counsel cancelled a scheduled conference date in light of her own conflict that Plaintiff’s counsel
refused to reschedule the conference. The following “efforts” by Plaintiff’s counsel to hold a
proper discovery conference falls short of the requirements of Rule 37(a)(1).
For the foregoing reasons,
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Discovery (R. Doc. 35) is
DENIED. Plaintiff may reassert his Motion to Compel after the parties meet-and-confer on the
substantive discovery issues raised in the motion, and with the filing of a Rule 37 certificate
specifically setting forth (1) how the conference was scheduled and agreed upon, (2) who
participated in the conference, (3) when the conference took place, (4) whether the conference
was conducted by phone or in person, (5) the duration of the conference, (6) the specific,
itemized topics that were addressed at the conference, and (7) whether any issues were resolved
by the parties. In the alternative, the Rule 37 certificate must detail Plaintiff’s counsel’s good
faith attempts to confer with defense counsel and provide evidence that defense counsel refused
to confer after reasonable notice.
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on December 1, 2017.
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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