Case Law

Court Orders Parties to Meet and Confer to Determine Scope of Discovery Request

Vermont

Elhannon v. F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58693 (D. Vt. Apr. 18, 2017) In this breach of contract case, the plaintiffs renewed their motion to compel complete discovery responses and document production. In addition, the plaintiffs motioned for sanctions. Previously, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion because the defendant demonstrated to the court its discovery responses were complete. After discovering new information through deposition testimony, the plaintiffs determined that the defendant’s discovery response was incomplete and renewed the discovery motion. The defendant responded by filing a cross-motion for sanctions and motion for leave. In weighing the discovery dispute, the court discussed two main issues: if there should be additional discovery materials awarded to the plaintiffs and if the court should impose sanctions on either party under FRCP Rule 37(a)(1). The court found that the additional information requested by the plaintiffs was within the scope of the discovery and relevant to the discovery request. The court stated that the defendant failed to search relevant data systems when trying to find additional information requested by the plaintiffs. To prevent further issues, the court ordered that both parties engage in meet and confer efforts to resolve any factual disputes about what information is in the scope of discovery. Additionally, the court held that based on the standard of Rule 37(a)(1), neither party was justified to impose sanctions on the other. The plaintiffs should not be sanctioned for failure to meet and confer before filing this motion, and the defendant did not fail to comply with the discovery requests out of bad faith. As a result, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to compel, but denied both parties’ cross-motions to impose sanctions.

Keywords: scope of discovery, motion to compel, meet and confer, sanctions