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Bailey v. Monitronics International, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

August 6, 2014

MEL BAILEY INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF MARIE H. BAILEY, DECEASED, AND THE ESTATE OF MARIE H. BAILEY, DECEASED, BY AND THROUGH MEL BAILEY, EXECUTOR, Plaintiffs,
v.
MONITRONICS INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

HENRY T. WINGATE, District Judge.

Before the court are three motions filed by plaintiffs, Mel Bailey, individually and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Marie H. Bailey, and the Estate of Marie Bailey (collectively referred to as "Bailey"): a motion to extend the discovery deadline [docket no. 329]; a motion to compel responses to interrogatories [docket no. 330]; and a motion to compel responses to requests for production of documents [docket no. 331]. Defendant, Monitronics International, Inc. ("Monitronics") opposes the motions to compel.

Because there is no opposition to the motion to extend the discovery deadline, this court hereby grants that motion [docket no. 329]. Having considered the motions to compel responses, this court hereby grants in part and denies in part the motions to compel [docket nos. 330 and 331]. This court orders Monitronics to respond to Interrogatory Nos. 5 and 16 and Request No. 2. This court declines to compel responses to Interrogatory Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8, and 15 and Requests Nos. 1, 4, 6, and 7.

I. Procedural Background

On June 17, 2013, this court entered an order [docket no. 289] overturning the Magistrate Judge's order limiting discovery [docket no. 154] and reopening discovery. Regarding discovery, this court stated:

Accordingly, this court allows plaintiffs to investigate Monitronics involvement with the NFPA:
• Monitronics' stance on its contractual relationship with Kingdom Security and Rexford Alarm Service as to whether Monitronics' had an obligation to ensure compliance with NFPA 72.
• Whether Monitronics had an obligation to ensure compliance with NFPA 72 once it purchased Bailey's contract.
• Whether Monitronics was personally or constructively aware whether the placement of the smoke detector in Bailey's home complied with NFPA 72 standards.
• Whether Monitronics had any obligation under NFPA 72 to change the location of any improperly placed smoke detector.
• Whether Monitronics owed any additional duty to Bailey after she informed a representative of her eyesight problems.
• What requirements under NFPA 72 did Monitronics impose on itself and its dealers?
• Whether Monitronics considered NFPA 72 as a governing standard for its contracts.
• Whether Monitronics had any obligation to enforce NFPA 72 under the contract with Bailey.
The general intent of this order is to allow the plaintiffs to explore in discovery Monitronics' view of its obligations under NFPA 72 and its obligations to Bailey. The questions proposed herein are not all inclusive, and plaintiffs may ask additional questions aimed towards discovering Monitronics' obligations and duties under NFPA 72.

Order, docket no. 289.

On June 21, 2013, Bailey propounded interrogatories [docket no. 292] and requests for production of documents [docket no. 292]. On July 24, 2013, Monitronics submitted its responses [docket nos. 299 and 300].

Monitronics objects to Interrogatories 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 15, and 16. These objections are largely based upon Monitronics' claim that these Interrogatories are outside the scope of the court's June 17, 2013, are burdensome, and are not calculated to discover admissible evidence.

Monitronics also objects to Requests 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7. These objections, like those to the Interrogatories, are largely based upon Monitronics' claim that that these Requests are outside the scope of the court's June 17, 2013, are burdensome, and are not calculated to discover admissible evidence.

In response to Monitronics' objections, Bailey filed the instant motions to compel [docket no. 330 and 331], asking this court to order Monitronics to provide responses.

II. Motion to Compel Responses to Interrogatories

A. Interrogatory No. 4

Interrogatory No. 4 queried:

When did Monitronics first become aware that improper configuration of telephone line seizure was one of the common mistakes made during the installation of an alarm system, and describe how Monitronics became aware of this information?

Monitronics originally objected to this this Interrogatory, saying it was "outside the scope of permissible discovery" under the court's June 17, 2013 order because the discovery request does not pertain to Monitronics' view of its obligations under NFPA 72 and its obligations to Marie Bailey. Further, Monitronics stated that Interrogatory No. 4 was overly broad, unduly burdensome, ambiguous, and not reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. Monitronics also objected to the Interrogatory's assertion that improper line seizure is a "common mistake."

In the motion to compel, Bailey stated that during discovery Monitronics produced a slide show that described improper configuration of telephone line seizures as a "common mistake." Bailey also noted that Monitronics has admitted that improper configuration of telephone line seizures is a mistake that authorized dealers make. Bailey claims it merely wishes to know when Monitronics became aware of this problem. Bailey further says that this inquiry is within the scope of permissible discovery, because Bailey contends NFPA 72 obligated Monitronics to properly install this line seizure.

Monitronics replies that it has already answered this question: Monitronics does not believe that improper line seizure is a "common mistake." During his Rule 30(b)(6)[1] deposition on behalf of Monitronics, Robert Sherman ("Sherman") testified that he wasn't aware that Monitronics had determined that the lack of telephone line seizure was a "common mistake." When presented with a copy of the slide show, Sherman said that he did not know the context in which the slide show was presented. Sherman suggested that the slide show might have been dealer specific. Further, Monitronics argues that it would be unnecessarily burdensome to determine the first time that it became aware that any dealer was improperly configuring a telephone line seizure.

This court agrees with Monitronics that this Interrogatory is not within the scope of this courts' ordered discovery. The Interrogatory deals with Monitronics awareness of a problem, not with Monitronic's view that it had an obligation, under its contracts or NFPA, to address that problem. Therefore, this court declines to compel a response.

B. Interrogatory No. 5

Interrogatory No. 5 asked:

Identify the names, last known addresses, and telephone numbers of those employees of Monitronics who conducted random quality inspections of accounts purchased by Monitronics from the time the inspection program began up to the present.

Monitronics originally objected to this interrogatory on the grounds that it was outside the scope of permissible discovery under the court's order because the Interrogatory did not pertain to Monitronics' view of its obligations under NFPA 72 and its obligations to Bailey. Monitronics further contended that the Interrogatory was not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

In the motion to compel, Bailey argues that it requested this information in order to question the inspectors regarding the standards that they utilized in the field. Specifically, Bailey wishes to ask how the inspectors determined the correct placement of smoke detectors. Bailey says he wants to determine what steps Monitronics took to insure compliance with local codes and standards, and with what codes and standards Monitronics required its dealers to comply. Bailey admits that he is aware of two inspectors: Jess Fleming ("Fleming") and Don Postel ("Postel"). Postel, however, did not begin working as an inspector for Monitronics until after the accident. Therefore, Postel, would not know anything about the inspection process during the time of Marie Bailey's service. Bailey's Interrogatory attempts to discover other inspectors who might have knowledge of the standards by which Monitronics judged its dealers.

In response, Monitronics argues that Bailey had knowledge of Fleming and Postel before the close of the original discovery period, yet Bailey failed to depose them. Because of this failure, Monitronics argues that Bailey should not be allowed to follow up on this line of questioning.

The point of this court's June 17, 2013, order was to permit additional discovery on the question of how Monitronics viewed its obligations to Bailey, either under contract or under NFPA 72. This court views Interrogatory No. 5 as reasonably calculated to lead to evidence on this point. Bailey wishes to question those individuals who were actually in the field and discover what standards Monitronics applied in determining if systems were installed in a "workmanlike manner." Such discovery may lead to admissible evidence regarding Monitronics obligations under NFPA 72 or the contract. Therefore, this court compels Monitronics to respond.

C. Interrogatory No. 6 and ...


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