United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ROY J. DIXON, JR. and BLANCHE L. DIXON, Plaintiffs,
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., as successor by merger to BAC HOME LOANS SERVICING, LP, Defendant.
OMNIBUS ORDER REGARDING IN CAMERA REVIEW OF FANNIE
MAE DOCUMENTS AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL
WILLIAM MATTHEWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon
Plaintiffs, Roy J. Dixon Jr. and Blanche L. Dixon's
("Plaintiffs") Motion for In Camera Review [DE 91]
and Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel [DE 92]. These matters
were referred to the undersigned by United States District
Judge Kenneth A. Marra. See DE 71.
8, 2019, Plaintiffs issued a subpoena duces tecum to
Fannie Mae. [DE 70-1]. Thereafter, Fannie Mae filed a Motion
to Quash Subpoena [DE 70]. On August 9, 2019, the Court
entered an Order Denying Federal National Mortgage
Association's Motion to Quash Subpoena [DE 82]. The Court
ordered that Fannie Mae produce documents responsive to
Plaintiffs on or before August 20, 2019. Id. at p.
5. Fannie Mae, through its counsel, responded to the subpoena
duces tecum by email on August 20, 2019. [DE 92, p.
MOTION FOR IN CAMERA REVIEW
August 28, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for In Camera
Review [DE 91]. Plaintiffs request that the Court conduct
in camera review of the 118 redacted records
produced to them by Fannie Mae and then find that Fannie May
has "intentionally, engaged in discovery misconduct in
willfully [sic] defiantly [sic] of the Court's August 9,
2019 Order." Id. at p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1. Plaintiffs also
request sanctions against Fannie Mae. Id. at p. 2.
response, Fannie Mae explains that it produced to Plaintiffs
183 pages of documents responsive to the subpoena. [DE 98, p.
1]. Fannie Mae contends that pages 52-170 were redacted in
whole or in part because information regarding other loans
has "no remote relevance to the issues in this civil
proceeding." Id. at p. 2. Fannie Mae argues
that it "has been truthful about the contents of the
redacted documents and resents the Dixons' implication
that it is lying to him [sic]" and states that it has no
objection to the Court reviewing the documents in camera.
Id. at p. 3. Finally, Fannie Mae argues that Plaintiffs,
who are representing themselves pro se in this
matter, "do not have the same incentives as licensed
attorneys to preserve the confidentiality of hundreds of
other consumers' financial information."
reply, Plaintiffs first represent that Fannie Mae only
emailed 170 pages of documents to them, so 13 pages must be
missing. [DE 100, p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1]. Next, Plaintiffs contend that Fannie
Mae is covering up its mistake by claiming that its reference
to "183 documents" in its Response [DE 98] was a
scrivener's error. Id. at p. 2. Plaintiffs seek
to "review the unredacted pages in camera with this
Court to see whether the redacted information is relevant to
the Plaintiffs' mortgage loan and should be, not be
initial matter, before Plaintiffs' motions were fully
briefed, Fannie Mae emailed the documents for in
camera review on September 6, 2019, and mailed the same
documents to chambers on September 5, 2019. Fannie Mae should
not have provided the documents to the undersigned's
chambers before the Court had the opportunity to rule on
Plaintiffs' Motion for In Camera Review. Generally, the
Court will not review documents in camera unless it
has first entered an Order requiring submission of documents
for in camera review. This is because in
camera review is time-consuming and is not always
appropriate. However, in this specific case, where Fannie Mae
is a non-party trying to quickly resolve the issue, where
Plaintiffs are representing themselves pro se, and
where Plaintiffs strongly distrust Fannie Mae, the Court
finds it appropriate to grant Plaintiffs' Motion for In
Camera Review and review the documents that have already been
the sole substantive issue before the Court is whether the
sections of the documents provided for in camera
that were redacted in the copies provided to Plaintiffs are
relevant to this case. Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure defines the scope of discovery as "any
non-privileged 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, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery, and whether the burden of the discovery
outweighs the likely benefit. It is well established that the
courts must employ a liberal standard in keeping with the
purpose of the discovery rules. Fed.R.Civ.p. 26(b)(1).
respondent bears the burden of establishing a lack of
relevancy or some other basis for resisting production."
Glatter v. MSC Cruises S.A., No. 18-62219-CIV, 2019
WL 1300896, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 7, 2019); see also
Stolfat v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, No. 19-80428-CV,
2019 WL 3779778, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 12, 2019);
Broadbandone, Inc. v. Host.net, Inc., No.
12-80604-CIV, 2013 WL 12096358, at *1 (S.D. Fla. May 30,
2013); Dunkin' Donuts, Inc. v. Mary's Donuts,
Inc., No. 01-0392-CIV-Gold, 2001 WL 34079319, *2 (S.D.
Fla. Nov. 1, 2001). In other words, the respondent "must
show either that the requested discovery (1) does not come
within the broad scope of relevance as defined under Rule 26
or (2) is of such marginal relevance that the potential harm
occasioned by discovery would far outweigh the ordinary
presumption in favor of broad disclosure." Jeld-Wen,
Inc. v. Nebula Glass Int'l, Inc., No. 05-60860-CIV,
2007 WL 1526649, at *2 (S.D. Fla. May 22, 2007) (citing
Giardina v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. Civ. A.
02-1030, 2003 WL 21276348 (E.D. La. May 30, 2003); Gober
v. City of Leesburg, 197 F.R.D. 519 (M.D. Fla. 2000)).
Court has carefully reviewed the unredacted documents
provided by Fannie Mae in camera and has also
carefully reviewed the redacted version of the documents that
Fannie Mae provided to chambers in response to a request from
the Court. See DE 101. The Court finds that the
redacted portions of the documents are irrelevant to the
claims and defenses in this case. The documents appear to be
one large report run by Fannie Mae, and the report clearly
contains several different addresses from the same "pool
number." Only one of the many addresses has any
relationship to Plaintiffs. Fannie Mae has met its burden of
establishing lack of relevance as to all but unredacted
sections of the documents already provided to Plaintiffs. In
other words, only certain sections of pages Bates-stamped
000052 and 00125 contain relevant information, and those
sections were properly produced to Plaintiffs.
MOTION TO COMPEL
August 28, 2019, Plaintiffs also filed a Motion to Compel [DE
92]. According to Plaintiffs, Fannie Mae's document
production consisted of "170 documents related to the
plaintiffs' 2011 modification novation, and 118 of the
documents are redacted and blotted out and concealed from the
plaintiffs. ALL 170 documents has [sic] a red stamp at the
bottom of each page as shown." Id. at p. 2.
Plaintiffs and counsel for Fannie Mae conferred, and
Plaintiffs did not accept Fannie Mae's counsel's
representation that the redacted information related to other
loans that were part of Plaintiffs' loan pool when
Plaintiffs' loan was sold to Fannie Mae."
Id. Counsel for Fannie Mae also represented to
Plaintiffs that the "10 document requests" in
Plaintiffs' subpoena did not request any payment records.
Id. Plaintiffs request that the Court compel Fannie
Mae to respond to all 17 ...