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Basra v. Ecklund Logistics, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

December 22, 2016

INDERJEET BASRA, individually and as Personal Representative for the ESTATE OF ATINDERPAL SINGH; DILSHAAN S. REHAL, by and through his next friend, INDERJEET BASRA, Plaintiffs,
v.
ECKLUND LOGISTICS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          F.A. Gossett United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' First Motion to Compel Discovery and for Modification of Final Progression Order (Filing No. 28).[1] Plaintiffs are the surviving spouse and child of Atinderpal Singh, who perished after a trailer-tractor accident on August 8, 2012, wherein Singh's tractor-trailer collided with a tractor-trailer driven by Freddy Galloway, an employee of Defendant. Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant for negligence, loss of consortium, and punitive damages under Wisconsin law. (Filing No. 1).

         Pursuant to the parties' joint stipulation (Filing No. 37), the court entered an amended final progression order (Filing No. 38), which resolved the portion of Plaintiffs' motion requesting modification of the prior final progression order. Additionally, Plaintiffs acknowledge that there is no longer a dispute regarding deposition scheduling. (Filing No. 43 at p. 11). The remainder of Plaintiffs' motion pertains to Defendant's answers to interrogatories and responses requests for production. After Plaintiffs filed the instant motion, Defendant provided Plaintiffs with supplemental answers and responses. Plaintiffs maintain Defendant's supplemental responses are deficient.

         DISCUSSION

         Interrogatories

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33 requires a party to answer each interrogatory separately and fully in writing under oath. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3). A party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an answer or production if “a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(3)(B). “[A]n “evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). Plaintiffs argue that Defendant's supplemental responses to Interrogatory Numbers 5, 7, 11, 12, 14, and 15, are nonresponsive and incomplete. (Filing No. 43 at pp. 3-6). After review of Defendant's supplemental answers (Filing No. 40 at pp. 19-22), the court makes the following rulings:

         Interrogatory No. 5(c) and (d) asks Defendant to identify certain maintenance and inspection information about the tractor-trailer operated at the time of the accident. Defendant answered, “See maintenance records, Exhibits 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 to the deposition of Ms. Ecklund.” “The answer to an interrogatory must be responsive to the question; it should be complete in itself and should not refer to other documents.” Budget Rent-A-Car of Mo., Inc. v. Hertz Corp., 55 F.R.D. 354, 356 (W.D. Mo. 1972). See also, Dipietro v. Jefferson Bank, 144 F.R.D. 279, 282 (E.D. Pa. 1992) (“The general rule is that answers to interrogatories should be complete in and of themselves, and should not refer to pleadings, depositions, or other documents.”). Defendant's answer simply directs Plaintiffs to other documents, and therefore the court finds Defendant has not fully responded to this Interrogatory in compliance with Rule 33. The court will order Defendant to produce a full, complete, and correct response to this interrogatory.[2]

         Interrogatory No. 7 asks Defendant to identify whether Defendant created a written record of the accident; whether the record is “kept in any Vehicle Accident Investigation File or its equivalent;” and whether the record was kept in the ordinary court of business. Defendant answered, “Yes;” “Defendant does not have a copy of such a file. See the deposition of Ms. Ecklund;” and “Yes.” The court finds these answers responsive to the questions asked and will not order the Defendant to further answer.

         Interrogatory No. 11 asks Defendant to identify the date it subjectively believed there was a substantial chance that litigation would arise from the accident and the facts giving rise to that belief. Defendant answered in part, subject to certain objections, “Defendant has never subjectively believed that there was a substantial chance for litigation.” Although Plaintiff doubts the veracity of Defendant's statement, Defendant answered the question asked and the court will not order a further answer.

         Interrogatory No. 12(a)-(g) asks for information regarding any internal investigations or meetings conducted by Defendant related to the factual allegations in Plaintiffs' Complaint, including identification of the persons involved and the person most knowledgeable, documents generated, statements made, and the outcome of the investigation. Defendant answered, subject to its objection of attorney-client privilege, “Defendant did obtain the accident report which indicated fault on the part of Decedent and was aware that Mr. Galloway was not cited and that Defendant's truck passed inspection.” The court finds Defendant's answer incomplete and nonresponsive to the questions asked. The court will order Defendant to produce full, complete, and correct responses to this interrogatory.

         Interrogatory No. 14 asks Defendant to describe in detail any other similar incidents, and the dates, entities involved, whether litigation resulted, and the resolution of the incident. Defendant answered without waiving certain objections, that “Defendant is not aware of a similar incident. See the depositions of Mr. Galloway and Ms. Ecklund.” The court finds Defendant's answer is responsive to the question asked and will not order Defendant to further answer.

         Interrogatory No. 15 asks Defendant to describe in detail how it calculated Galloway's pay and compensation for the year prior to and including the accident. Defendant answered, “Mr. Galloway was paid 40 cents per mile as well as additional stop pay. See the deposition of Mr. Galloway.” The court finds Defendant's answer is responsive to the question asked and will not order Defendant to further answer.

         In sum, the court finds Defendant's supplemental answers to Interrogatory Nos. 5(c) and (d), 7, and 12(a)-(g) were not answered fully and completely. The court will grant Plaintiffs' motion to compel with respect to those interrogatories, and orders Defendant to produce full, complete, and correct responses.

         Requests for ...


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