United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL
G. TORRES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Center for Individual
Rights' (“Plaintiff”) motion to compel
against Irina Chevaldina (“Defendant” or
“Chevaldina”). [D.E. 75]. Chevaldina responded to
Plaintiff's motion on November 20, 2017 [D.E. 87] to
which Plaintiff replied on November 21, 2017. [D.E. 89].
Therefore, Plaintiff's motion is ripe for disposition.
After careful consideration of the motion, response, reply,
relevant authority, and for the reasons discussed below,
Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED in part
and DENIED in part.
an action for breach of contract. The complaint - filed on
March 11, 2016 [D.E. 1] - alleges that Plaintiff successfully
represented Defendant pro bono in an appeal before
the 11th Circuit in Katz v. Google, Appeal No.
14-14525, in which the Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary
judgment in favor of Defendant in a copy infringement
action. See Katz v. Google, Inc., 802
F.3d 1178 (11th Cir. 2015), aff'g, Katz v.
Chevaldina, 12-cv-22211, 2014 WL 5385690 (S.D. Fla.
Sept. 5, 2014). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant had few
financial obligations under the retainer agreement in that
case and that Plaintiff paid the out of pocket expenses of
the suit. Plaintiff contends that it only asked Defendant for
(1) reasonable attorney fees and expenses as permitted under
law, and (2) that Defendant provide Plaintiff with any fees
or expenses that were attributable to Plaintiff's
expenditures and/or the work of its attorneys. If Defendant
decided to settle the case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
was also obligated to provide Plaintiff with a reasonable
amount in attorneys' fees and expenses.
December 2015 - while being represented by another attorney -
Defendant settled all the remaining claims in the
Katz case. In the settlement, Plaintiff claims that
Defendant obtained only $10, 000 in attorney fees for the
work of Plaintiff's attorneys as well as both taxable and
non-taxable costs. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff sought to
challenge the fee award in the Eleventh Circuit, but
Defendant allegedly instructed Plaintiff to withdraw its
motion and Plaintiff reluctantly complied. Therefore,
Plaintiff suggests that Defendant did not obtain a reasonable
amount in attorney fees for the work of Plaintiff's
attorneys and that Defendant breached the retainer agreement.
In exchange for the low sum of $10, 000 in attorney fees,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant agreed with Katz to drop a
substantial claim against Defendant in excess of $100, 000.
Because Plaintiff alleges that it has been deprived of a
reasonable attorney fee award, Plaintiff seeks judgment
against Defendant in an amount of no less than $105, 000 -
including reasonable costs and expenses in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 1920.
motion seeks to compel Chevaldina to provide supplemental
responses to Plaintiff's interrogatories 1 and 3, and
require Chevaldina to pay reasonable expenses, including
attorneys' fees, incurred in filing its motion.
Plaintiff's motion relates to two paragraphs in
Chevaldina's counterclaim concerning allegations that
Plaintiff violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act
(“DPPA”). Specifically, paragraph 21 of the
counterclaim alleges that “[a]s of the filing of this
pleading, and in spite of Defendant
Counter-Plaintiff's notification, [Plaintiff] had
not taken any steps to abate, address, or rectify the
violations laid forth herein and such violations continue day
after day.” [D.E. 35] (emphasis added). Moreover, in
paragraph 22 of Chevaldina's counterclaim, Chevaldina
alleges that Plaintiff's “intentional unlawful
inclusion” of her personal information “continues
to present a serious risk of identity theft, as well as
ongoing harm.” [D.E. 35]. As a result of these
allegations, the counterclaim alleges that Plaintiff is
liable for actual and punitive damages.
first interrogatory requests additional information
concerning the allegation in paragraph 21 because Chevaldina
purportedly notified Plaintiff of its violations of the DPPA
prior to the date of Chevaldina filing her counterclaim.
Interrogatory 1 states the following:
With respect to the allegations in Paragraph 21 of the
counterclaim, identify each communication in which you
notified CIR of the alleged violation of the DPPA. For each
such communication, (1) state whether it was oral or in
writing or both, (2) set forth the date of the communication,
(3) identify any document concerning the communication, and
(4) identify all persons sending the communication and all
persons receiving the communication.
response to interrogatory 1, Chevaldina responded with the
Defendant objects to the first interrogatories as unduly and
unnecessarily burdensome to the extent that it seeks
information that is matter public record, already in
Plaintiff's possession, or otherwise readily available to
Plaintiff, and, therefore, may be accessed and obtained by
Plaintiffs with less burden than plaintiff can identify and
provide requested information. CIR has in its possession and
control all communications between CIR and Defendant. CIR is
well aware of each facts, date, persons receiving
communications between Plaintiff and Defendant. Defendant
believes this Plaintiff's unreasonable request was made
for improper purposes such as harassment, delay, unduly
burdensome, and expensive. Without waiving these objections,
Defendant states that CIR received communication from
Defendant notifying of CIR's violation of DPPA on:
December 23, 2016 (Defendant's Motion to Quash),
Defendant's Reply in Opposition to CIR's Motion to
Quash, March 2, 2017 Defendant's Objections to report and
recommendation, Multiple meet and confer email communication
between Defendant and CIR (CIR has all these emails in its
possession and control).
relies on three filings in her response to interrogatory 1 -
her motion to quash, her reply in opposition to
Plaintiff's motion to quash, and her objections to the
Court's Report and Recommendation - as well as
unspecified email communications between the parties.
Plaintiff argues that Chevaldina's response is inadequate
because she only included boilerplate objections along with
three documents on the docket that never mention the
DPPA. As for Chevaldina's contention that Plaintiff was
notified in meet and confer emails, Plaintiff claims that it
is unaware of any communications where Chevaldina mentioned
the DPPA. As such, Plaintiff requests that Chevaldina be
compelled to specify which communications she is relying upon
for the allegation that Plaintiff was notified of its
violations of the DPPA.
third interrogatory requests that Chevaldina
“[d]escribe any other injury . . . incurred as a
consequence of CIR's alleged violation of the
DPPA.” [D.E. 75]. Chevaldina responded to interrogatory
3 and argued that the term “other injury” was
vague and that the question was outside the scope of her
Defendant objects to these interrogatories to the extent that
they are over-broad, unduly burdensome, vague, ambiguous,
confusing, require speculation to determine their meaning or
use imprecise specifications of the information sought.
Plaintiff did not define the term “other injury”,
therefore, Defendant is not able to understand this question.
Moreover, this ...