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Convermat Corp. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

September 18, 2007

CONVERMAT CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Kathleen Tomlinson, Magistrate Judge

ORDER

I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Before the Court is Plaintiff's letter motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(2)(B) to compel Defendant to provide further responses to certain interrogatories and document demands. [DE 17] Defendant has submitted a letter opposing the relief which Plaintiff seeks. [DE 18]

Plaintiff served Defendant with its First Set of Interrogatories and Document Demands and Defendant responded some 2 1/2 months later, objecting to certain parts of the demands served. Plaintiff then served Defendant with its Second Set of Interrogatories. Defendant responded to the Second Interrogatories on January 5, 2007 and raised objections to certain interrogatories. After conducting the required meet and confer pursuant to Local Civil Rule 37.3, Plaintiff moved to compel full and adequate responses to its: (1) First Interrogatories Nos. 1 and 3; (2) Second Interrogatories Nos. 4 and 5; and (3) Document Demand Nos. 17 through 21.

Having considered the parties' respective submissions and the applicable law, Plaintiff's letter motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part for the reasons set forth below.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The standard of review used to assess the parties' respective positions in this motion to compel involves the interplay between Rules 26, 33, 34 and 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A closer look at the scope of each Rule is instructive on the issues presented by the parties here.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) describes the scope of, and limitations on, discovery in civil litigation:

In General.Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party.. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. All discovery is subject to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii).

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). "Relevance" under Rule 26 "has been construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc., 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978); Thomas E. Hoar, Inc. v. Sara Lee Corp., 882 F.2d 682, 687 (2d Cir. 1989) (holding that "the broad scope of discovery delimited by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is designed to achieve disclosure of all the evidence relevant to the merits of a controversy"). This Court has held that the "right of litigants to discover and present relevant evidence in civil litigations is given great weight in federal courts." Apicella v. McNeil Labs, 66 F.R.D. 78, 82 (E.D.N.Y. 1975). In Apicella, this Court further noted that the "liberal" discovery rules tend "toward admitting as much evidence as possible so that the facts may be more accurately determined." Id.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(c) describes the scope of interrogatories in civil litigation:

Scope; Use at Trial. Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under rule 26(b)(1), and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(c). A party wishing to object to an interrogatory may not merely repeat the "familiar litany that the interrogatories are burdensome, oppressive or overly broad," but rather must "specifically" show how the interrogatory "is not relevant or how each question is overly broad, burdensome or oppressive by submitting affidavits or offering evidence revealing the nature of the burden." Compagnie Francaise d'Assurance Pour le Commerce Exterieur v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 105 F.R.D. 16, 42 (S.D.N.Y. 1984). An objection based upon burdensomeness of an ...


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