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Barrett v. Reynolds

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

March 24, 2014

M. SCOTT BARRETT, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS D. REYNOLDS, and EARLY AMERICAN COIN GALLERY, LLC, Defendants.

ORDER

F.A. GOSSETT, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (filing 148). Plaintiff maintains that several of Defendants' responses to Plaintiff's Second Set of Requests for Admission ("RFA") are deficient. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants' responses to Interrogatory Nos. 22, 33 and 36 through 42 are incomplete. Additionally, Plaintiff complains that Defendants' responses to Request for Production Nos. 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22 are insufficient. For the reasons explained below, Plaintiff's motion will be granted, in part, and denied, in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff and Defendant Thomas Reynolds ("Reynolds") are both rare coin collectors. Reynolds is the sole owner of Defendant Early American Coin Gallery, LLC. On or about March 31, 2012, Plaintiff and Reynolds entered into a consignment contract where Plaintiff gave Defendants certain coins to sell on a consignment basis for a commission. Plaintiff terminated the consignment agreement on September 6, 2012.

In this suit, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants mishandled the consignment by converting Plaintiff's coins, not holding sales proceeds in trust, and generally breaching fiduciary duties owed to Plaintiff. Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint asserts multiple causes of action, including replevin, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion and fraud. Defendants have asserted counterclaims against Plaintiff for defamation and tortious interference with business relationships.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's motion to compel relates to numerous discovery requests. The information sought through these requests falls into several general categories: (1) requests regarding proceeds for the sale of certain coins; (2) requests related to Reynolds's personal net worth; (3) requests related to trust account transactions; (4) requests that seek the value of Reynolds's coin inventory and personal coin collection; (5) requests that seek loan applications and agreements with Reynolds's personal creditors; and (6) requests that seek written settlement agreements with non-parties. Defendants contend that they have provided sufficient responses and that a majority of the information sought, particularly that relating to Reynolds's personal wealth, is irrelevant to the claims and defenses asserted in this case.

Under the federal rules, parties to a lawsuit may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to a claim or defense of any party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information need not be admissible at trial "if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. "Relevancy is broadly construed, and a request for discovery should be considered relevant if there is any possibility that the information sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of any party." Moses v. Halstead , 236 F.R.D. 667, 671 (D. Kan. 2006) (footnote omitted). However, "[m]ere speculation that information might be useful will not suffice; litigants seeking to compel discovery must describe with a reasonable degree of specificity, the information they hope to obtain and its importance to their case." Met-Pro Corp. v. Industrial Air Technology, Corp. , No. 8:07CV262, 2009 WL 553017, * 3 (D. Neb. March 4, 2009).

1.Requests Related to Sale Proceeds from Particular Coins

RFA Nos. 19, 20, 25, 26, 30, 31, 226, 233, 235, 259 and 260 ask Reynolds to admit receiving a specified amount of money for the sale of particular coins belonging to Plaintiff. For instance, RFA No. 19 requests that Reynolds admit that "in April 2012 you sold [Plaintiff's] S2 to Steve Fischer for $15, 000." (Filing 145-3.) In RFA Nos. 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 228, 230, 237, 240, 261 and 263, Reynolds is asked to admit that proceeds from the sale of Plaintiff's coins were deposited into Reynolds's business account and that certain documents were accurate copies of items reflecting amounts received from the sale of those coins. Reynolds denied each of these RFAs, claiming that the subject coins were sold for a different amount than that specified by Plaintiff. Although Reynolds denied the RFAs, he provided the actual amount of proceeds obtained through the sale of each respective coin.

Plaintiff contends that Defendants should have produced documents evidencing their responses to these RFAs. In particular, Plaintiff points to Interrogatory No. 22 which states, in part:

For each Request for Admission which has been denied, either in whole or in part, state the basis of, and all reasons for, your denial and identify all documents and information which support such denial and all persons and documents consulted in arriving at such denial.

(Filing 145-1.) Defendants responded to this Interrogatory by stating, "[s]ee responses to requests for admissions as denials were explained therein." ( Id. ) Plaintiff claims that had Defendants properly responded to Interrogatory No 22, Defendants would have been required to produce documents relating to the subject RFAs by way of Plaintiff's Request for Production Nos. 17 and 18, which seek production of all documents identified in Defendants' responses to the RFAs and Interrogatories.

The Court finds that these discovery requests seek relevant information and that Defendants' responses are deficient to some extent. Although Defendants' responses to the RFAs were appropriate, Defendants should have provided additional information in their response to Interrogatory No. 22 and Request for Production No. 18 as it relates to Interrogatory No. 22. Accordingly, within ten days of this Order, Defendants shall supplement their response to ...


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