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Gillier v. Servicios Agecom, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

January 8, 2018



          EDWIN G. TORRES United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Oliver Robert Gillier's (Plaintiff”) motion to compel against Richard Perez (“Mr. Perez”) and Inversiones 2020 PR, LLC (“Inversiones”) (collectively, “Defendants”) to provide better discovery responses and produce relevant documents. [D.E. 77]. Defendants responded to Plaintiff's motion on December 28, 2017. [D.E. 80]. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion is now ripe for disposition. After careful consideration of the motion, response, relevant authority, and for the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on August 18, 2017 [D.E. 1] and alleges that on September 4, 2015 he entered into an agreement for a one day excursion on a boat named Victoria. During the charter, Plaintiff slipped and sustained injuries while climbing to the roof of the boat. Under the terms of the applicable charter agreement, any lawsuit or claim that might arise therefrom was agreed to be brought within the state and federal courts of Puerto Rico:

This Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted under the laws of Puerto Rico, without regard to conflict of laws provisions. If any lawsuit or claim is brought that arises out of or relates to this Agreement or charter of the Vessel, jurisdiction and venue for such suit shall be exclusively in the state or federal courts located in Puerto Rico, to the exclusion of any other jurisdiction or venue to which any lawsuit could otherwise have been brought.

         [D.E. 80]. In light of the jurisdiction and venue clause, all four defendants in this case filed motions to dismiss to force Plaintiff to pursue his claims in Puerto Rico. Defendants also filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because (1) this case concerns an accident that occurred in Puerto Rico - meaning Plaintiff must show that Defendants have sufficient ties to Florida to establish general jurisdiction - and (2) both Defendants are Puerto Rico citizens without any alleged ties to Florida.

         On November 7 and 8, 2017, Plaintiff served his first requests for interrogatories and documents on Defendants. In a November 27, 2017 Order, Judge Scola conducted a “preliminary peak” into Defendants' motions to dismiss and found that they “reveal[] a strong likelihood” that their motions may be granted. [D.E. 60]. The Court granted a stay of general discovery and allowed for limited jurisdictional discovery to proceed only against Mr. Perez and Inversiones.

         On December 8, 2017, the parties attended a discovery hearing before the undersigned and the Court issued an Amended Order on December 18, 2017. [D.E. 69]. In its Amended Order, the Court noted that a review of Defendants' written discovery responses show that they were provided in accordance with the District Judge's Order, but that Plaintiff may be entitled to some supplementation after upcoming depositions are completed. Inversiones initially offered the company's administrator for deposition, yet Plaintiff demanded that Mr. Burguillos be deposed instead. As such, the undersigned compelled Mr. Burguillos's deposition and ordered that it take place by no later than December 19, 2017. [D.E. 69]. Because Mr. Burguillos's and Mr. Perez's depositions have now been completed, Plaintiff reiterates that Defendants' discovery responses are defective and that they must be supplemented.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The thrust of Plaintiff's motion is that Defendants' responses are inadequate and that Defendants must be compelled to provide better responses and produce relevant documents. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's motion lacks any merit because Plaintiff has already received a full and complete answer to each request given the limited discovery allowed in this case. Specifically, Defendants contend that their responses are adequate because discovery is limited solely to the question of whether there is general jurisdiction to sue Defendants in this forum - i.e. whether Defendants have sufficient contacts with Florida. Defendants further explain that the depositions of Mr. Burguillos and Mr. Perez support their responses and that there is nothing in the record to suggest that anything needs supplementing. Therefore, the parties' dispute centers on the scope of the jurisdictional discovery allowed in this case and whether Defendants are complying with their obligation to produce the requested information in relation to their ties to Florida.

         First, Plaintiff argues that Defendants have not adequately responded to interrogatory no. 3 which requests that Defendants “[i]dentify all officers, members, owners or shareholders of INVERSIONES 2020 PR, LLC during the years (a) 2015 (b) 2016 and (c) 2017.” [D.E. 77]. Inversiones responded that it had no Florida officers, members, owners, or shareholders during this time period. Plaintiff takes issue with Defendants' response because it purportedly allows Defendants to solely determine the question of jurisdiction. For instance, Plaintiff suggests that - given Defendants' response - Plaintiff has no way of knowing whether Defendants are being truthful or whether there might be a disagreement as to who might be considered a Florida officer, member, owner, or shareholder. As such, Plaintiff requests that Defendant produce all documents requested between 2015 and 2017.

         Second, Plaintiff argues that Defendants failed to properly respond to request for production no. 3 which seeks “bank records for the 2 year period prior to September 1, 2017, including all bank statements, account opening and closing reports and address changes.” [D.E.80]. Plaintiff takes issue with Defendants' response because it was premised solely on Defendants' interpretation of what constitutes a Florida bank. Plaintiff suggests that Defendants' banking activity is critical to determining their connections to Florida and that only the production of all banking statements during the relevant time period will allow for both parties to adequately determine whether Defendants have any associated ties to Florida.

         Third, Plaintiff contends that Defendants must supplement their response to request no. 4 which seeks all leases for office space, apartments, residences, or business operations in Florida that were entered into by Defendants or on behalf of any entity in which Defendants were a member, shareholder, owner, or officer for the 4 year period prior to September 1, 2017. Plaintiff explains that this information is critical because it may shed insight on the citizenship of Mr. Burguillos. Because Defendants have failed to provide these documents, Plaintiff concludes that Defendants must be compelled to do so.

         Fourth, Plaintiff argues that Defendants have not adequately responded to request no. 13 which seeks “[a] copy of [Defendants'] [o]rganizational papers including but not limited to Certificates and/or Articles of Organization, Operating Agreements, tax returns, payroll reports, W2's, 1099's, and books and papers showing all employees, agents, and owners of the company.” [D.E. 80]. Plaintiff suggests that the requested documents are significant because it would confirm whether one of the Defendants is subject to Florida's jurisdiction and whether they may be alter egos of each other. Plaintiff further contends that Defendants have used an undefined description in their response - ...

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