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Brook v. Mendez

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

November 20, 2017

YELANIS BROOK, Plaintiff,
v.
SISTEMA UNIVERSITARIO ANA G. MENDEZ, Defendant.

          ORDER

          AMANDA ARNOLD SANS ONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Provide Full and Complete Answers to Defendant's Second Set of Interrogatories (Doc. 44), and Plaintiff's response thereto (Doc. 58).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez, Inc. operates universities in Puerto Rico and the United States, including one in Tampa. Plaintiff Yelanis Brook completed a Master's degree in Education at Defendant's Tampa campus. Subsequently, she filed this action, alleging that Defendant intentionally discriminates against Latinos by targeting them for a fraudulent educational program. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendant for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”), breach of implied-in-fact contact, and fraudulent inducement.[1] (Doc. 1).

         Defendant served Plaintiff with its Second Set of Interrogatories on July 24, 2017. (Doc. 44-1). Plaintiff, who was not represented by counsel at the time, provided her interrogatory answers on August 24, 2017. (Doc. 44-2). On September 20, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for the Court to compel better responses to Interrogatories Nos. 2-6. (Doc. 44). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff retained counsel. (Docs. 47-50). Due to issues related to Hurricane Maria, Plaintiff sought and was granted an extension of time to file a response to Defendant's Motion. (Docs. 51, 53). On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed her response to the instant motion. (Doc. 58). Accordingly, this matter is ripe for review.

         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, Interrogatory Nos. 2-6 of Defendant's Second Set of Interrogatories are at issue. The Court will address each interrogatory in turn.

Interrogatory No. 2: Please describe in detail each and every alleged unconscionable act or practice, and unfair or deceptive act or practice, which you claim constitutes a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”) by SUAGM, and identify the date(s) you claim SUAGM engaged in each alleged unconscionable act or practice, and unfair or deceptive act or practice; what the act(s) or practice(s) consisted of; and the names of any persons who witnessed the occurrence of each alleged act or practice.
Response:The unconscionable, unfair, and deceptive acts and practices at U.S. campuses of SUAGM are systematic (widespread, perpetual, and intrinsic). SUAGM engages in business practices that are a pattern and practice of knowingly and intentionally making numerous false representations and omissions of material facts, with the intent to deceive and fraudulently induce potential students. (1) misrepresenting U.S. campuses to be SUAGM while academic programs have been covertly outsourced to AVI; (2) misrepresenting the efficacy and appropriateness of the Discipline-Based Dual Language Immersion Model®; (3) misrepresenting job prospects as graduates are not ready to work in public schools and making material omissions such as students needing to fulfill additional requirements after graduation; (4) promising to validate foreign degrees while foreign degrees are simply recognized. All students and graduates at U.S. campuses are witnesses to violations of FDUTPA by SUAGM. SUAGM uses various mediums to communicate false representations and omissions of material fact, including but not limited to, webpages, social media, television, radio, newspapers, advertisements, interviews with the media, school catalogs, campus inauguration ceremonies, campus events that are used for recruiting, billboards, and advertising on the side of vehicles/trucks.

         (Doc. 44-2, p. 4). Plaintiff's response fails to include the date or time period of the alleged misrepresentations. This information is relevant and proportional to the needs of this case. Otherwise, Plaintiff sufficiently answers the interrogatory.[2] By December 4, 2017, Plaintiff shall provide Defendant with an amended response including specific dates (or date ranges) of the alleged violations. In all other respects, the motion to compel as to this interrogatory is denied.

Interrogatory No. 3: Please describe in detail the nature and amount of any alleged damages you are seeking to recover, and the method and bases for calculation, for ...

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