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Harris v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.

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

June 11, 2019

ROOSEVELT HARRIS PLAINTIFF
v.
MURPHY OIL USA, INC. DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          F. KEITH BALL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This case is before the Court on three motions filed by the plaintiff, Roosevelt Harris: Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Disclosures and Discovery Responses and for Attorney's Fees [57], Motion to Amend the Complaint [60], and Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order [62]. The Court finds as follows.

         Defendant Murphy Oil USA, Inc. (“Murphy Oil”) removed this case on January 25, 2018. Harris alleges that on or about September 7, 2014, he slipped and fell at a store owned by Murphy Oil in Vicksburg, Mississippi. [1-1]. He contends that the fall was the result of Murphy Oil's negligence. Id.

         I. Harris's Motion to Compel

         On February 28, 2019, the Court held a telephonic discovery conference, pursuant to Section 6.F.4. of the Case Management Order [4], at Harris's request. Harris contended that several of Murphy Oil's April 30, 2018, discovery responses were inadequate. The undersigned authorized Harris to file a motion to compel if the parties were unable to work out the disagreements, and on April 10, 2019, Harris did so. The Court notes, however, that the Motion to Compel [57] included several disputes that had not been discussed at the February 28, 2019, conference.

         Harris's Memorandum [58] in support of his Motion to Compel is thirty-three pages long and the parties have since resolved many of disagreements at issue.[1] For the sake of brevity, the Court will only address those issues that remain unresolved.

         a. The timeliness of Murphy Oil's discovery responses

         Harris contends that Murphy Oil has waived all objections to his discovery requests because it waited until April 30, 2018, to respond to discovery that was due on April 16, 2018. [58] at 16-18. Generally, discovery objections are waived if they are not timely. See Godsey v. United States, 133 F.R.D. 111, 113 (S.D.Miss. 1990). And Murphy Oil's discovery responses and objections were fourteen days late. However, considering the following circumstances, good cause exists to find that Murphy Oil's discovery objections have not been waived.

         First, Harris waited almost a year to raise this issue. Harris did not request the discovery conference necessary to file this motion until February 26, 2019, and he did not file the actual motion until April 10, 2019. Second, Harris was far more dilatory in responding to Murphy Oil's discovery than Murphy Oil was his. Murphy Oil propounded interrogatories and requests for production to Harris on April 25, 2018. [7] and [8]. Harris failed to respond by the due date of May 25, 2018. On July 3, 2018, Harris's attorney moved to withdraw, and the Court learned that the plaintiff was incarcerated. [11] and [16]. The Court granted the attorney's withdrawal and set a deadline of October 17, 2018, for Harris to serve his discovery responses. [19]. Despite this nearly four-month extension, Harris still failed to timely respond. In fact, without leave or request for an extension, Harris did not respond to Murphy Oil's discovery requests until February 4, 2019. [39] and [40]. It would be inequitable for the Court to punish Murphy Oil for responses that were fourteen days late under these circumstances. The Court finds that Murphy Oil's objections as contained in its April 30, 2018, discovery responses are not waived.

         b. Murphy Oil's Fed. Rule Civ P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i) disclosures

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i) requires that a party disclose “the name and, if known, the address and telephone number of each individual likely to have discoverable information--along with the subjects of that information--that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses, unless the use would be solely for impeachment . . . .”

         Murphy Oil made the following Rule 26(a)(1)(A)(i) disclosures to Harris on March 27, 2018:

The individuals of which Murphy is presently aware who are likely to have discoverable information that Murphy may use to support its claims or defenses herein (unless solely for impeachment), together with the subjects of that information, are as follows:
1. Any current or former Murphy employees who may have information regarding the circumstances of the alleged accident at issue in this matter.
2. Any and all health care providers required to dispute causation and/or the extent and/or duration of Plaintiff's alleged personal injuries, including any medical providers that may conduct an independent medical examination of Plaintiff.
3. Any and all experts retained by Defendant.
4. All persons identified in Plaintiff's Initial Disclosures.
5. Any and all eyewitnesses that may be identified in discovery.
6. Any and all witnesses necessary to respond to any and all claims and allegations asserted by Plaintiff in this litigation.

[58] at 4.

         Murphy Oil's disclosures are insufficient and do not meet the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i). The disclosures do not list any individual's name, nor do they meaningfully describe the subjects of any individual's discoverable information.

         According to Harris, Murphy Oil has supplemented its initial disclosures, and the parties have resolved the disagreements, except for the healthcare providers described in Category 2. Accordingly, the Court sets a deadline of July 3, 2019, for Murphy Oil to supplement Category 2 of its initial disclosures to provide the information required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i).

         c. Murphy Oil's Fed. Rule Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(A)(iv) disclosures and responses to Interrogatory No. 6 and ...


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