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Viable Resources, Inc. v. Belyea

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

October 30, 2017

VIABLE RESOURCES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN BELYEA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JULIE S. SNEED, UNTIED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel the Plaintiff to (1) Provide Rule 26 Initial Disclosures, (2) Produce Documents, (3) Provide Answer to Interrogatories, and (4) for the Award for Reasonable Attorney's Fees ("Motion to Compel") (Dkt. 49) and Defendant's Motion to Determine the Sufficiency of Plaintiff s Responses and Objections to Request for Admissions ("Motion to Determine Sufficiency") (Dkt. 50). Upon consideration and for the reasons explained below, the Motion to Compel is granted in part and denied in part, and the Motion to Determine Sufficiency is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 9, 2016, Viable Resources, Inc. ("VR") filed a Verified Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Damages against Defendant Karen Belyea, alleging breach of contract, violation of the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act, tortious interference with business relations, and unjust enrichment in connection with Ms. Belyea's resignation from VR and subsequent employment with VR's customer. (Dkt. 2.) On September 29, 2017, Defendant filed her Motion to Compel and Motion to Determine Sufficiency. (Dkts. 49, 50.) Plaintiffs responses to the motions were due October 13, 2017. When Plaintiff did not file responses by that date, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file responses on or before October 23, 2017, and advised Plaintiff that failure to respond would result in the Court considering the motions unopposed. (Dkt. 52.) To date, Plaintiff has failed to file responses to the motions.

         APPLICABLE STANDARDS

         A party is entitled to 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The term "relevant" in Rule 26 should encompass "any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). A party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. An evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). The court has broad discretion in managing pretrial discovery matters and in deciding to compel discovery. Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1306 (11th Cir. 2011); Perez v. Miami-Dade Cnty., 297 F.3d 1255, 1263 (11th Cir. 2002).

         ANALYSIS

         A. Defendant's Motion to Compel

         In her Motion to Compel, Defendant first seeks an order compelling Plaintiff to provide its Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) initial disclosures. In the parties' Case Management Report, the parties agreed to exchange their initial disclosures by May 15, 2017. (Dkt. 46.) Plaintiff did not serve its initial disclosures on the deadline, and, despite Defendant's counsel's request for the initial disclosures, Plaintiff has not complied. (Dkt. 49 at 4.) Therefore, Defendant's Motion to Compel is granted as to Plaintiffs initial disclosures.

         Defendant next addresses her May 1, 2017 Request for Production to Plaintiff. (Dkt. 49 at 4.) Plaintiff served its response on May 31, 2017, including objections to request numbers 1, 4, 9-12, 14-16, 18, 19, 22, 38, 40-47, and 51. (Dkt. 49 at 4.) Plaintiff did not object to request numbers 2, 3, 5-8, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23-37, 39, 48-50, 52, and 53. (Dkt. 49 at 4.) Further, Plaintiff has not produced any documents in response to the Requests for Production. (Dkt. 49 at 4.) Defendant therefore seeks an order compelling Plaintiff to produce all responsive documents. As Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendant's Motion to Compel, the Court presumes Plaintiff has no objection to Defendant's Motion to Compel. See M.D. Fla. Local R. 3.01(b). Thus, Defendant's Motion to Compel is granted as to the requests Plaintiff did not object to, which are request numbers 2, 3, 5-8, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23-37, 39, 48-50, 52, and 53.

         With regard to the remaining requests, Defendant's Motion to Compel is granted as to request numbers 15, 19, 22, 38, 43, 44, 45, 46, and 47. However, Defendant's Motion to Compel is denied as to request numbers 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 41, 42, and 51 because the requests are overly broad and are not proportional to the needs of the case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

         Defendant's Motion to Compel is granted in part as to request numbers 4, 12, 18, and 40. Defendant's request number 4 seeks "[a]ny and all employee handbooks, employee manuals, and employment policies and procedures put into effect after the Defendant's employment by the Plaintiff ended." (Dkt. 49 at 5.) Defendant states that she is willing to limit the request to "any and all provisions regarding confidentiality and restrictive covenants of any sort contained in any and all employee handbooks, employee manuals, employment policies and procedures put into effect after the Defendant's employment by the Plaintiff ended." (Dkt. 49 at 5.) Therefore, Defendant's Motion to Compel is granted in part as to request number 4, as modified and limited above.

         Defendant's request number 12 seeks "[a]ny and all agreements, contracts, offer letters or other documents purporting to create contractual obligations of any sort between the Plaintiff and its employees, independent contractors and consultants." (Dkt. 49 at 7.) As framed, the request is overly broad and unduly burdensome under Rule 26(b)(1). However, the requested documents between Plaintiff and Defendant are relevant and proportional to the needs of the case. The Court therefore grants Defendant's Motion to Compel as to request number 12 in part and limits the request to "any and all agreements, contracts, offer letters, or other documents purporting to create contractual obligations of any sort" between the Plaintiff and Defendant.

         Defendant's request number 18 seeks "[a]ny and all documents, communications and correspondence related to any alleged information or trade secret information or other proprietary information to which the Plaintiff claims the Defendant had access during her employment including the information referenced in paragraph 27 of the Complaint." (Dkt. 49 at 10.) Defendant states in her Motion to Compel that she is willing to limit request 18 to "documents sufficient to show any and all alleged confidential information or trade secret information or other proprietary information which the Plaintiff claims the Defendant has misappropriated as part of this action." (Dkt. 49 at 10.) The Court ...


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