United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
MICHAEL T. PARKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Amend
Scheduling Order , Defendants' Motion to Compel ,
and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike . Having considered
the parties' submissions, the record, and the applicable
law, the Court finds that Defendants' Motion to Amend
Scheduling Order  should be granted in part and denied in
part, Defendants' Motion to Compel  should be granted
in part and denied in part, and that Plaintiff's Motion
to Strike  should be denied.
declaratory judgment action, Plaintiff Grain Dealers Mutual
Insurance Company seeks a declaration that its policy with
the Defendants precludes coverage for third-party claims
relating to a gasoline leak that occurred at the
Defendants' gas station. Specifically, Plaintiff argues
that the policy's pollution exclusion precludes coverage
for claims relating to the leeching of gasoline into the soil
and/or water on neighboring landowners' properties.
to Compel 
November 9, 2016, Defendants served interrogatories, requests
for production of documents, and requests for admissions on
Plaintiff. See Notices   . On December
13, 2016, Plaintiff filed their discovery responses.
See Notice . The parties had disagreements over
several discovery requests and responses, and on December 21,
2016, the Court conducted a discovery conference with the
parties to discuss their disagreements. The parties were
unable to resolve their disputes, and the Court set an
expedited briefing schedule for any discovery motions.
See Order .
December 27, 2016, Defendants filed their Motion to Compel
. According to the Motion, the parties were disputing
more than twenty discovery requests. After the Motion was
filed, however, the parties were able to resolve many of
their disputes. See Response ; Rebuttal .
Currently, six discovery requests remain in dispute.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) provides that:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweights it likely
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). This Rule also specifies that
“[i]nformation within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”
Id. The discovery rules are accorded a broad and
liberal treatment to achieve their purpose of adequately
informing litigants in civil trials. Herbert v.
Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979). “It is well
established that the scope of discovery is within the sound
discretion of the trial court.” Freeman v. United
States, 566 F.3d 326, 341 (5th Cir. 2009).
of the discovery requests which remain in dispute, Defendants
are attempting to gather information concerning how Plaintiff
has previously handled claims involving gasoline leaks and
whether Plaintiff has consistently characterized gasoline as
Interrogatory No. 4: Have you ever been
party to any other similar lawsuit or declaratory actions
where the subject of the lawsuit was coverage related to a
gasoline leak at an insured's property? If so, please
state the style, cause number, and place of filing of any
such lawsuit, or other applicable claim.
Interrogatory No. 5: Identify all claims,
lawsuits, or other actions where Grain Dealers has taken the
position that a claim is excluded from coverage under its
policy because the claim arises from a gas leak at a service
Interrogatory No. 8: With respect to each
person who had any role whatsoever in working on or adjusting
insurance claims for damages sustained to property as a