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Jeremy Barter v. the American Coal Company

December 2, 2010

JEREMY BARTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE AMERICAN COAL COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant's Objection to, or Appeal From, Magistrate's Order of November 12, 2010 (Doc. 22), made pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 72(a) and the Court's Local Rule 73.1, to which Plaintiff has filed his opposing Response (Doc. 23). The Order being appealed was issued by United States Magistrate Judge Frazier on November 12, 2010 (Doc. 21). The following Interrogatories at issue are set forth herein, as recounted in Defendant's appeal (Doc. 22, pp. 2-3):

Plaintiff's Interrogatory 5: List the name, address and telephone number of each employee of defendant who has filed a worker's compensation claim in the last five (5) years.

DEFENDANT'S RESPONSE: Defendant objects to this Interrogatory as being vague, overly broad, unduly burdensome and seeks information neither relevant nor material nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Notwithstanding and without waiving the objection, TACC attaches a listing of employees who reported an onthe-job accident for the years 2003 through 2007, Bates #Barter 00001 -Barter 00053.

Plaintiff's Interrogatory 6: For each such person listed in response to Interrogatory No. 5, state their current employment status, and if no longer employed, state the date of separation and the reason for separation, that is whether the separation was by retirement, voluntary separation, lay-off or termination.

DEFENDANT'S RESPONSE: Defendant objects to this Interrogatory as being vague, overly broad, unduly burdensome, and seeks information neither relevant nor material nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

Plaintiff's Interrogatory 7: For each such separation described in answer to Interrogatory No. 5, state whether the separation, resignation and/or retirement was a settlement term of that employee's compensation claim.

DEFENDANT'S RESPONSE: Defendant objects to this Interrogatory as being vague, overly broad, unduly burdensome, and seeks information neither relevant nor material nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

Pursuant to Judge Frazier's Order Regarding Discovery, issued in this case on April 26, 2010 (Doc. 9),1 a telephonic discovery dispute conference was held between the Parties concerning Defendant's objections to Plaintiff's Interrogatories 6 and 7. The same day of the telephonic discovery dispute conference, Judge Frazier issued a minute order overruling Defendant's objections to Plaintiff's Interrogatories 6 and 7 and directing Defendant to answer said Interrogatories within ten days from the date of the order (Doc. 21). Again, this is the ruling from which Defendant currently appeals (Doc. 22).

When attempting to appeal a decision of a Magistrate Judge, Local Rule 73.1(a) provides:

Any party may appeal a Magistrate Judge's order determining a motion or matter within 14 days after issuance of the Magistrate Judge's order, unless a different time is prescribed by the Magistrate Judge or a District Judge. The party shall file with the Clerk of Court and serve on all parties a written request for an appeal which shall specifically designate the order or part of the order that the parties wish the Court to reconsider. A District Judge shall reconsider the matter and shall set aside any portion of the Magistrate Judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law. A District Judge may also reconsider sua sponte any matter determined by a Magistrate Judge under this rule.

1 The Order reads as follows:

Discovery disputes which cannot be resolved through informal means pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 shall be handled in the following manner. The party seeking the discovery shall be responsible for arranging for a prompt telephone conference with the Court and opposing counsel, by first contacting Karen Metheney, Courtroom Deputy to Judge Frazier, at 618-439-7754. If written discovery is involved, the disputed portion(s) shall be faxed to the Court prior to the telephone conference. Motions to Compel discovery and/or for appropriate sanctions shall be presented orally at the telephone conference. Written motions to compel or legal memoranda will not be accepted unless specifically requested by the Court. Expense of the call will be borne by the non-prevailing party.

Also, under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 72(a), the Court may modify or reverse a decision of a magistrate judge on a non-dispositive issue upon a showing that the magistrate judge's decision is "clearly erroneous or contrary to the law." A finding is clearly erroneous when "the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." Anderson v. City of Bessemer, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985) (quoting United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364 395 (1948)); see also Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997) ("The clear error standard means that ...


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