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Inc. v. State National Insurance Co., Inc.

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

July 12, 2018

STEPP'S TOWING SERVICE, INC. Plaintiff,
v.
STATE NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Defendant,

          ORDER

          AMANDA ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Stepp's Towing Service moves to compel discovery from State National. (Doc. 18). Stepp's Towing Service also moves for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of submitting its motion to compel. (Id.) State National objects to Stepp's Towing Service's motion to compel. (Doc. 20).[1] Stepp's Towing Service requested discovery relevant to its claims against State National and State National's objection was not substantially justified. Therefore, Stepp's Towing Service's motion to compel and request for reasonable expenses is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 15, 2018, counsel for Stepp's Towing Service provided a draft “Notice of Taking Deposition Duces Tecum of Corporate Representative of State National Insurance Company, Inc.” to opposing counsel. (Doc. 18-2). After multiple attempts by Stepp's Towing Service to secure a deposition date, State National objected to the deposition topics and indicated that it intended to file a motion for protective order. (Docs. 18-4, 20). Two weeks later, State National still had not filed a motion for protective order and had not coordinated a deposition in response to the five dates Stepp's Towing Service originally offered. (Doc. 18, p. 3). As a result, Stepp's Towing Service submitted its motion to compel the corporate representative deposition. (Id.).

         On March 5, 2018, Stepp's Towing Service served interrogatories on State National. (Doc. 18-5). In May 2018, Susan Masyada answered and objected to the interrogatories on behalf of State National; however, Ms. Masyada did not sign the answers as required by Rule 33(b)(5). (Doc. 18-6). At least as of the date of Stepp's Towing Service's motion to compel, the interrogatory answers remained unsigned and State National does not indicate that the interrogatory answers were signed after Stepp's Towing Service's motion to compel the signature. (Docs. 18, 20).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Compel Deposition Duces Tecum

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), a party may obtain discovery about any nonprivileged matter relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Discovery is meant to assist parties in ascertaining facts that bear on issues in the case. ACLU of Fla., Inc. v. City of Sarasota, 859 F.3d 1337, 1340 (11th Cir. 2017) (citations omitted).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a) allows a party to move for an order compelling discovery from the opposing party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a). When a party objects to discovery, that party must specifically demonstrate how the requested discovery is unreasonable or unduly burdensome. Panola Land Buyers Ass'n v. Shuman, 762 F.2d 1550, 1559-60 (11th Cir. 1985).

         Here, Stepp's Towing Service moves to compel a deposition duces tecum of a State National corporate representative. (Doc. 18). Stepp's Towing Service's cause of action arises from an alleged breach of contract by State National. (Doc. 2). Specifically, Stepp's Towing Service claims State National failed to indemnify Stepp's Towing Service, required under an insurance agreement between the two parties, for an incident involving a damaged crane. (Id. at 2).

         The topics Stepp's Towing Service wants the corporate representative to address and the documents Stepp's Towing Service wants the corporate representative to produce relate to the insurance agreement at the heart of this case. (Doc. 18-2). Stepp's Towing Service also wishes to ask State National's corporate representative about the basis on which State National denied coverage under its insurance agreement with Stepp's Towing Service. (Id. at 3). These matters are relevant to Stepp's Towing Service's claims against State National. Therefore, Stepp's Towing Service's motion to compel with respect to its notice of corporate representative deposition duces teum is granted.

         B. Motion to Compel Signed Interrogatories

         Stepp's Towing Service moves to compel State National to provide “an executed and notarized signature page for its interrogatory answers.” (Doc. 18, p. 4).

         State National provided answers to the interrogatories Stepp's Towing Service served. (Doc. 18-6). But no officer or agent from State National signed the answered interrogatories. (Id. at 6). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33(b)(5), the officer or agent who answers the interrogatories must sign them. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(5). Therefore, Ms. Masyada must sign the answers and Stepp's Towing Service's motion to compel with respect ...


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