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Local Access, LLC v. Peerless Network, Inc.

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

June 12, 2018

LOCAL ACCESS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PEERLESS NETWORK, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          THOMAS B. SMITH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This case comes before the Court without a hearing on Plaintiff, Local Access, LLC's Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions (Doc. 136). Defendant, Peerless Network, Inc. has filed a response in opposition (Doc. 148). The motion is due to be GRANTED in part and otherwise DENIED.

         Background

         In December, Local Access filed its Amended Complaint (Doc. 86) and, on January 12, 2018, Peerless filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaims (Doc. 94). On January 26, 2018, Local Access served its Third Request for Production to Peerless (Doc. 136-1 - “subject requests”), seeking “the documents that Peerless believes support the claims and defenses it asserted in its Answer and Counterclaim” (Doc. 136 at 2). On February 26, 2018, Peerless served its response to the subject requests (Doc. 136-2).

         Prior to the service of the response, the Court held a hearing on numerous discovery motions filed by the parties (Doc. 131). In a sealed Order, the Court, among other rulings, directed Peerless to produce its invoices to all third party carriers (not end user customers) from August 5, 2015 to the present (Doc. 132-sealed).

         On March 5, 2018, after the briefing on the instant motion and subsequent to the discovery hearing, Local Access filed its Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 135). This motion to compel followed on March 12, 2018 (Doc. 136).

         Peerless filed its Answer to Second Amended Complaint and Amended Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims on March 26, 2018 (Doc. 146), the same day that it responded to the motion to compel (Doc. 148). Also on March 26, 2018, Peerless served Amended Responses and Objections to Local Access's Third Requests (“amended responses”) (Doc. 148-1) and, it represents, provided additional documents (Doc. 148 at 3).

         Although the motion asserts that Peerless has failed to produce a single document in response to the subject requests (Doc. 136 at 2), Peerless contends that, with the exception of privileged documents, it agreed to produce responsive documents and has since produced a significant quantity of those documents to Local Access (Doc. 148 at 1-3).[1] Peerless also contends that some of Local Access' requests have been mooted by amendments to the pleadings and the service, on March 26, 2018, of the amended response to the subject requests (Id., at 3, 18-19). Noting these subsequent developments, I directed the filing of a status report as to the motion (Doc. 160) and Plaintiff responded that “[d]espite Peerless's arguments to the contrary, Peerless has not complied with Local Access's Third Set of Requests for Documents and has not produced all of the documents which it represented to this Court that it would or has produced” and, therefore, the issues set forth in the motion to compel remain (Doc. 171).

         Standards of Law

         The scope of discovery is well known:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties 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). The rules “strongly favor full discovery whenever possible.” Farnsworth v. Procter & Gamble Co., 758 F.2d 1545, 1547 (11th Cir. 1985). That said, relevancy is key. “The discovery process is designed to fully inform the parties of the relevant facts involved in their case.” U.S. v. Pepper's Steel & Alloys, Inc., 132 F.R.D. 695, 698 (S.D. Fla. 1990) (citing Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947)). “The overall purpose of discovery under the Federal Rules is to require the disclosure of all relevant information so that the ultimate resolution of disputed issues in any civil action may be based on a full and accurate understanding of the true facts, and therefore embody a fair and just result.” Oliver v. City of Orlando, No. 6:06-cv-1671-Orl-31DAB, 2007 WL 3232227, at * 1 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 31, 2007) (citing United States v. Proctor & Gamble Co., 356 U.S. 677, 682 (1958)). “[R]equiring relevance to a claim or defense ‘signals to the court that it has the authority to confine discovery to the claims and defenses asserted in the pleadings, and signals to the parties that they have no entitlement to discovery to develop new claims or defenses that are not already identified in the pleadings.'” Builders Flooring Connection, LLC v. Brown Chambless Architects, No. 2:11CV373-MHT, 2014 WL 1765102, at *1 (M.D. Ala. May 1, 2014) (quoting GAP Report of Advisory Committee to 2000 amendments to Rule 26). “As the Advisory Committee Notes say, ‘[t]he Committee intends that the parties and the court focus on the actual claims and defenses involved in the action.'” Liese v. Indian River Cty. Hosp. Dist., 701 F.3d 334, 355 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting the GAP Report).

         Parties can seek the production of information within the scope of Rule 26(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 34. A party objecting to a request for production must: (1) “state with specificity the grounds for objecting to the request, including the reasons;” (2) “state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection;” and (3) “[a]n objection to part of a request must specify the part and permit inspection of the rest.” Rule 34(b)(2). The rules leave no place for boilerplate style objections. Siddiq v. Saudi Arabian Airlines Corp., No. 6:11-cv-69-Orl-19GJK, 2011 WL 6936485, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 7, 2011) (quoting Milinazzo v. State Farm Ins. Co., 247 F.R.D. 691, 695 (S.D. Fla. 2007)).

         Discussion

         Local Access takes issue with Peerless's responses to Requests 36-59 to the extent Peerless has objected based on: (1) attorney-client or work product privilege; (2) overbreadth or undue burden; (3) mootness due to the filing of amended pleadings or production by other parties; and (4) withholding of documents that it intends to use for impeachment purposes. Local Access also asserts that Peerless's claim that documents have already been produced is not a sufficient response, unless Peerless identifies, by Bates number, which produced documents relate to the particular requests.

         In its response, Peerless stands by its objections, points to its past production of documents and compliance with the Order at hearing, and notes the ongoing nature of the production. Peerless also argues that the Court previously ruled that it did not need to identify which documents it was producing that were responsive to each request. I treat each matter in turn.

         Attorney/Client and work product

         As characterized by Local Access, the requests “seek[ ] the documents that Peerless believes support the claims and defenses it asserted in its Answer and ...


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