The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. MICHAEL MAHONEY, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the court on Defendant's August 24, 2005
Motion to Compel Plaintiffs to Provide Full and Complete
Responses to its December 31, 2004 Interrogatories. For the
reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is granted in part and
denied in part.
On December 31, 2004, Defendant served six written
interrogatories on Plaintiffs. On May 12, 2005, this court
granted Defendant's Motion to Compel answers to the
interrogatories and ordered production by June 27, 2005.
Plaintiffs' answers were served in accordance with the court's
order, but Defendant now maintains the "answers are grossly
inadequate, incomplete, and duplicative of each other." Def.'s Mtn., at 3. Plaintiffs
maintain their "answers are a diligent attempt to respond to
defendant's interrogatories that far exceeds in detail the sort
of interrogatory responses served by defendant." Pl.'s Resp., at
The court turns to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for
guidance in deciding a motion to compel more complete answers to
interrogatories. Under Rule 33, which governs the use of
interrogatories, interrogatories are intended to allow parties to
prepare for trial, narrow the scope of the issues at hand, and to
minimize the possibility of surprise at trial. According to Rule
33, every interrogatory must be "answered separately and fully in
writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the
objecting party shall state the reasons for objection and shall
answer to the extent the interrogatory is not objectionable."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(1). There is a duty to provide full answers
to interrogatories i.e., answers should include all the
information within the responding party's knowledge and control.
See Bell v. Woodward Governor Co, No. 03 C 50190, 2005 WL
289963, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2005) (requiring Defendant to
more fully respond to discovery requests).
Although as a general matter, parties "may obtain discovery
regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the
claim of defense of any party," discovery must have practical
limits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. Under Rule 26(b)(2), courts have the
discretion to limit the use of otherwise permissible discovery
methods if the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or
unduly burdensome or expensive. See Patterson v. Avery Dennison
Corp., 281 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2002). In a motion to
compel, the burden is on the responding party, here Plaintiffs,
to convince the court that an interrogatory is objectionable.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. In this case, the interrogatories at issue are contention
interrogatories. Contention interrogatories, distinct from the
identification interrogatories largely completed in this case,
inquire into a party's opinions or "contentions" about a
particular fact or application of the law to a fact. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(c). A contention interrogatory may, under the
rules, ask for the material or facts that support a party's
contentions in a case. Id. Answers to such interrogatories are
useful because they, amongst other things, aid the propounding
party in "pinning down" a party's position and determining the
proof required to rebut the party's position. However, as with
identification interrogatories, courts have the discretion to
limit the use of otherwise permissible contention interrogatories
if the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or unduly
burdensome or expensive. Patterson, 281 F.3d at 681-82; Steil
v. Humana Kansas City, Inc., 197 F.R.D. 445, 447 (D. Kan. 2000)
(holding that an interrogatory requesting "each and every" fact
and application of law to fact was overly broad and unduly
burdensome because it would require "a laborious, time-consuming
analysis, search, and description of incidental, secondary, and
perhaps irrelevant and trivial details").
The guidepost on the proper scope of contention interrogatories
is to allow parties to prepare for trial by narrowing the scope
of the issues and minimizing the possibility of surprise at
trial. In order to accomplish this purpose, this court expects to
find, at least, in answers to contention interrogatories those
facts that a party intends to offer to prove their case-in-chief
or intends to offer in defense. Anything less would frustrate the
purpose of having contention interrogatories.
Here, Defendant's interrogatories seek information regarding
the following: (1) Plaintiffs' and charging parties' contentions that they were placed in a job,
job code, job level, or salary range as a result of unlawful race
and/or sex discrimination; (2) Plaintiffs' and charging parties'
contentions that their wage rate is/was a result of race and/or
sex discrimination; (3) Plaintiffs' assertions that other current
or former minority employees were placed in a job, job code, job
level, or salary range as a result of unlawful race and/or sex
discrimination; (4) Plaintiffs' assertions that other current or
former minority employees' wage rates were a result of unlawful
race and/or sex discrimination; (5) all alleged discriminatory
acts and/or omissions by Woodward that Plaintiffs believe were
acts of discrimination or evidence of discrimination; and (6) the
identification of all documents that Plaintiffs believe material
to each paragraph of the Complaint and the reasons why Plaintiffs
consider the documents material.
At this point, the court does not intend to reject as overly
broad or unduly burdensome all of Defendant's contention
interrogatories that seek the underlying facts and supporting
materials of Plaintiffs' case. However, the court also does not
choose to charge Plaintiffs with the task of providing, in
essence, a running narrative of their entire case, together with
identifications of all knowledgeable persons and all supporting
documents. There is no reason nor justification for this kind of
indiscriminate discovery in this class action employment
discrimination case with well over 200 class members and 18 named
It is fairly clear, after reviewing and organizing Defendant's
Interrogatories and Plaintiffs' Answers, where Plaintiffs'
response lacks the clarity and completeness required by the
Federal Rules.*fn1 While the court will not strike all the
responses as "grossly inadequate" as requested by Defendant, the court finds that Defendant is
entitled to some additional detail from Plaintiffs.
The court will address the adequacy and inadequacy of each
individual Answer below. Applicable to all Interrogatories, the
court finds that Plaintiffs properly limited its answers to
"Plaintiffs" excluding "Charging Parties" and to "race
discrimination" excluding "sex discrimination."
With regard to Interrogatory #1, Defendant states Plaintiffs
have failed to list any single contention regarding what job
levels or salary ranges are discriminatory, why certain job
levels or salary ranges are discriminatory, who made
discriminatory decisions, and the reasons they contend they are
discriminatory. As a result, Defendant claims it is unable to
discern what employment decisions Plaintiffs consider unlawful.
Plaintiffs do not address Interrogatory #1 individually, but do
state that their responses are detailed and any ...