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Orloski v. Vincent House

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

November 9, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendants to Produce Documents in Response to Plaintiff's First Request for Production (Doc. 54), Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendants to Fully Answer Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories (Doc. 55), and Defendants' responses in opposition thereto (Docs. 58, 61).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Christopher Orloski filed this action against Defendants Vincent House, Van Gogh's Palette, Inc., Ligia Gomez, William McKeever, and Elliott Steele, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 for denying his membership application to Vincent House, a nonprofit organization. (Doc. 82).

         In the instant motions, Plaintiff requests that the Court compel Defendants to provide better responses to certain requests for production of documents and interrogatories. (Docs. 54, 55). Defendants filed responses in opposition to Plaintiff's motions, wherein Defendants assert that they oppose certain discovery requests as well as aver that proper responses to a number of requests have since been provided. (Doc. 58, 61). This matter was scheduled for oral argument to take place on October 24, 2017. (Doc. 63). Prior to the hearing, Defendants hired new counsel, who then requested (with the agreement of Plaintiff) that the hearing be cancelled so that Defendants could have “a chance to meaningfully meet and confer with Plaintiff to narrow the issues.” (Docs.70, 72). The Court cancelled the hearing, and directed that the parties confer and advise the Court of the status of the motions. (Doc. 74). Thereafter, Defendants notified the Court that they had resolved several disputed discovery requests, but others remained unresolved. (Doc. 76). The Court will address the motions to compel as to the remaining, unresolved discovery requests

         II. ANALYSIS

         Motions to compel discovery are committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. See Commercial Union Ins. Co. v. Westrope, 730 F.2d 729, 731 (11th Cir. 1984). Rule 26(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the scope of discovery. That rule provides, in relevant part, that

[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Here, the following discovery requests and responses are still at issue: Plaintiff's First Request for Production No. 1, and Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories Nos. 1-3, 5, and 7.

         A. Request for Production

Request for Production No. 1: Copies of Van Gogh's Palette, Inc. Annual Reports with all financials of the organization, fiscal years 2007 through 2017, with a comprehensive estimated budget for 2017.
Response: Defendants object to this request as it is overbroad and not limited to the relevant time period. Defendants further objects as this request seeks information that is not reasonably related to the claims or defenses of either party. Plaintiff has filed a claim wherein he appears to allege he was improperly denied membership into Vincent House. Defendants are unsure how any information regarding the financials and 2017 budget of Van Gogh's Palette, Inc. will prove or disprove Plaintiff's allegations in this matter.

(Doc. 54-2, p. 2). Section 794 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability under any “program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). Whether Defendants receive federal funding is relevant to bringing an action under the Rehabilitation Act. However, Plaintiff's request is overbroad. The relevant period is in this action is from 2015, when Plaintiff submitted his application to Vincent House, to the present.

         In addition, only documents that indicate whether Defendants receive federal funding are relevant to this action. Thus, Plaintiff's motion to compel is granted only to the extent that it seeks financial documentation indicating whether Defendants have received federal funding for Vincent House from the year 2015 to the present. This information, if it exists, shall ...

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