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Richardson International (US) Ltd. v. Buhler Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

July 31, 2015

RICHARDSON INTERNATIONAL (US) LIMITED, and NATIONWIDE AGRIBUSINESS INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
v.
BUHLER INC, Defendant.

ORDER

F.A. Gossett United States Magistrate Judge

This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion for Reasonable Attorney Fees and Costs. (Filing 40.) For the reasons expressed below, Defendant’s motion will be granted, in part.

BACKGROUND

On or about September 16, 2014, Defendant served its First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents (the “discovery requests”). In November, 2014, Defendant’s counsel contacted Plaintiffs’ counsel and inquired as to the status of Plaintiffs’ past due discovery responses. The attorneys agreed that the response deadline would be extended to December 12, 2014.

On December 11, 2014, Plaintiffs’ counsel informed Defendant’s counsel that Plaintiffs required additional time to respond to the discovery requests. In late December, 2014 and early January, 2015, Defendant’s counsel contacted Plaintiffs’ counsel to discuss Plaintiffs’ continued failure to provide discovery responses. In early February, 2015, Defendant’s counsel contacted the Court to schedule a conference call regarding the outstanding discovery. The Court declined to hold a status conference, and informed Defendant’s counsel to file a motion to compel if necessary to resolve the discovery dispute.

Defendant filed a Motion to Compel (filing 27) on March 20, 2015. Plaintiffs responded to the motion on April 2, 2015, stating that they intended to serve discovery responses by April 15, 2015. (Filing 30.) On April 3, 2015, Plaintiffs filed another document stating that they had provided responses to the requests and that the Motion to Compel was moot. (Filing 31.)

By letter dated April 8, 2015 (filing 34-1), Defendant’s counsel instructed Plaintiffs’ counsel to provide supplemental discovery responses by April 17, 2015. Defendant’s counsel explained that supplemental responses were warranted because Plaintiffs improperly objected to a number of requests, failed to provide a privilege log, failed to answer Defendant’s contention interrogatories and vaguely referenced thousands of pages of documents. Defendant’s counsel again contacted Plaintiff’s counsel on April 22, 2015, asking whether Plaintiffs planned to respond to the letter. Plaintiffs’ counsel indicated that he would review the April 8, 2015 letter that week. Defendant did not receive any further response regarding the discovery from Plaintiffs’ counsel. Therefore, Defendant filed a Renewed Motion to Compel Answers to Written Discovery (filing 32) on April 30, 2015.

In support of its Renewed Motion to Compel, Defendant argued that Plaintiffs’ responses were deficient because Plaintiffs failed to produce a privilege log and did not identify what specific documents were responsive to each request for production. Defendant also asserted that Plaintiffs should be ordered to respond to Defendant’s contention interrogatories and that Plaintiffs’ objection that the contention interrogatories were premature was without merit, or had been waived by Plaintiffs’ failure to provide timely responses.

On June 8, 2015, the Court entered an order granting Defendant’s Renewed Motion to Compel. (Filing 39.) In the order, the Court first noted that, in response to Defendant’s Renewed Motion to Compel, Plaintiffs had agreed to produce a privilege log and identify documents by Bates Number. With respect to the contention interrogatories, the Court found that Plaintiffs should be able provide responses, while reserving the right to supplement and provide additional information as it is revealed through discovery. The Court stated that although there is support for deferring answers to contention interrogatories until after other discovery has been completed, this case has been pending for over a year and discovery delays in this case are largely attributable to Plaintiffs’ failure to respond to discovery requests.

The Court’s June 8, 2015 order directed Defendant to file a motion for attorney’s fees incurred in connection with the original Motion to Compel and Renewed Motion to Compel by June 23, 2015. Defendant timely complied with the Court’s order by filing the instant motion.

DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(5)(A) provides:

If the motion [to compel] is granted–or if the disclosure or requested discovery is provided after the motion was filed–the court must, after giving an opportunity to be heard, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the movant’s reasonable expenses incurred in ...

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