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Dixon v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

October 8, 2019

ROY J. DIXON, JR. and BLANCHE L. DIXON, Plaintiffs,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., as successor by merger to BAC HOME LOANS SERVICING, LP, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS RESPONSIVE TO PLAINTIFFS' FIRST REOUEST FOR DOCUM ENTS [DE 94]

          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 to Compel Production of Documents Responsive to Plaintiffs' First Request for Documents [DE 94]. This matter was referred to the undersigned by United States District Judge Kenneth A. Marra. See DE 71. Defendant, Bank of America, N.A. ("Defendant"), has filed a Notice of Serving Responses and Objections to Plaintiffs' Amended Requests for Production of Documents [DE 95], a Notice of Serving Responses and Objections to Plaintiffs' Amended First Set of Interrogatories to Defendants [DE 96], and a Response to Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel [DE 105]. Plaintiffs have filed a Reply [DE 110]. This matter is now ripe for review.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 6, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Verified Amended Complaint [DE 4]. On July 3, 2019, Judge Marra entered an Order and Opinion on Third Motion to Amend. [DE 59]. He dismissed several of Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice and provided Plaintiffs with one final opportunity to amend their complaint. Id. at p. 31. Judge Marra specified that Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint could only allege counts of a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, civil theft, and/or quiet title. Id. In their Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege" a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Act (Count 1) and civil theft under Florida law (Count 2) against Defendant. [DE 69]. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss [DE 83], which remains pending. The Motion to Dismiss is fully briefed.

         After Plaintiffs served their First Set of Interrogatories, Defendant conferred with Plaintiff in an effort to "narrow the discovery requests and address deficiencies therein." [DE 95, p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1, f.n. 1]. Plaintiffs then served upon Defendant their Amended First Requests for Production of Documents and their Amended First Set of Interrogatories on July 31, 2018. See DEs 95, 96. Upon receipt of Defendant's August 30, 2019 discovery responses, Plaintiffs filed their Motion [DE 94][1].

         In the Motion, Plaintiffs explain that Defendant objected to every document request and refused to answer all interrogatories on the basis that the discovery requests sought irrelevant information. [DE 94, p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1]. Plaintiffs contend that the discovery sought is necessary to support their response in opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss. Id. at p. 2.

         In response, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs' discovery requests are yet another "improper effort to collaterally attack a state foreclosure action" and that the requests have "no basis in or relevancy to the claims Plaintiffs attempt to assert in the Second Amended Complaint." [DE 105, p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1]. Defendant asserts that the discovery sought is not relevant to the Motion to Dismiss because the Court is limited to the four corners of the Second Amended Complaint in ruling on the Motion to Dismiss. Id. at p. 2. According to Defendant, Plaintiffs' Motion fails to comply with Local Rule 26.1(g)(2). Mat p. 3.

         In reply, Plaintiffs first object to Defendant's Response on the basis that attorney Reid Alan Schaeffer never filed a Notice of Appearance on Defendant's behalf in this case. [DE 110, p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1');">p. 1], Next, Plaintiffs seek leave to file a Third Amended Complaint "to add a cause of action under FS 494.00296 against Bana [sic] and claim against nonparty Fannie Mae." Id. at p. 4.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Defendant has made specific objections to each discovery request. Defendant objects to several discovery requests on the basis that they are vague, ambiguous, overboard, or unduly burdensome. See DEs 95 and 96. Additionally, Defendant objects to the vast majority of the requests on the basis that the discovery requests seek irrelevant information.

         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). However, Rule 26(b) allows discovery "through increased reliance on the commonsense concept of proportionality." In re: Takata Airbag Prod. Liab. Litig., 15-2599-MD-Moreno, 2016 WL 1460143, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 1, 2016) (quoting Chief Justice John Roberts, 2075 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary 6(2015)); Renter v. Physicians Cas. Risk Retention Group, No. 16-80581-CV, 2017 WL 395242, (S.D. Fla. 2017). "Proportionality requires counsel and the court to consider whether relevant information is discoverable in view of the needs of the case." Tiger v. Dynamic Sports Nutrition, LLC, No. 6:15-cv-1701-ORL-41TBS, 2016 WL 1408098, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 11, 2016).

         "The 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 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)).

         The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, Response, Reply, and Plaintiffs discovery requests and Defendant's responses and objections thereto. As explained above, Judge Marra previously limited and specified the causes of action that Plaintiffs could plead in their Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiffs then only alleged civil theft under Florida law and a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act against Defendant in the Second Amended Complaint.

         Plaintiffs claim that the discovery sought is relevant and necessary to assist them in fully responding to the pending motion to dismiss. This argument is without merit for two reasons. First, the motion to dismiss is already fully briefed. Second, the argument in the motion to dismiss is that Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint fails to plead sufficient facts to state a claim that is plausible on its ...


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