United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
STEVE WILLIAMSON and RHONDA CHRISTINE LEMASTER, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
S.A. GEAR COMPANY, INC., AUTOZONE, INC., AUTOZONE STORES, INC., and AUTOZONE PARTS, INC., Defendants.
G. WILKERSON United States Magistrate Judge.
initial matter, this Court notes that it abandons all hope
that the parties can cooperate and conduct discovery in a
manner anticipated by the adopters of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure when the cooperative rules of discovery were
instituted. As such, this Court will take a proactive role in
assisting the parties in conducting discovery. Additionally,
as stated at the discovery dispute hearing held on August 24,
2016, this Court reminds the parties of the Court's power
to appoint a Special Master for discovery and directs the
parties to examine Doc. 179 in Alford v. Aaron Rents,
Inc., et al., 3:08-cv-683 MJR. In that case, this Court
appointed a Special Master for discovery pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 53(a)(1)(c). It should be noted that if a
special master is appointed, any costs associated with a
special master WILL BE borne by the parties to the action.
The Court again urges the parties cooperate in a reasonable
manner in the discovery process.
a products defect proposed class action in which Plaintiffs
allege that Defendants, S.A. Gear Company, Inc., AutoZone,
Inc., AutoZone Stores, Inc., and AutoZone Parts, Inc.,
manufactured, distributed, advertised and/or sold defective
timing chain tensioners (“the Part”).
15, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification
(Doc. 15) and, on December 4, 2015, Defendants filed a motion
to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint (Doc. 44)
and a motion to strike and dismiss Plaintiffs' nationwide
and multi-class allegations (Doc. 42) that are currently
pending before the District Court.
February 29, 2016, Defendants sought to stay further
discovery pending resolution of their motion to dismiss (Doc.
69), but said motion was denied (Doc. 72). As such, the
parties were directed to continue discovery in this matter in
accordance with the Court's Scheduling and Discovery
to the Scheduling and Discovery Order, discovery prior to
class certification must be sufficient to permit the Court to
determine whether the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure are satisfied and, in order to ensure that a class
certification decision be issued as soon as practicable,
priority shall be given to discovery on class issues
(see Doc. 46, p. 3).
April 12, 2016, the Court held an in-person discovery dispute
conference to address Plaintiffs' contention that
Defendant S.A. Gear Company, Inc. (“S.A. Gear”)
failed to adequately respond to their written discovery
requests. At the hearing, Plaintiffs were directed to provide
Defendant S.A. Gear with revised definitions for their
interrogatories and requests to produce and Defendant S.A.
Gear was directed to supplement its objections to
Plaintiffs' requests (see Doc. 75).
on June 30, 2016, the Court held a status conference to
ascertain whether any discovery disputes remained and discuss
the schedule in this matter (see Doc. 77). At the
conference, the Court was informed there were a number of
discovery disputes that remained pending and, as such, the
Court set this matter for another in-person discovery dispute
conference on July 25, 2016. Prior to the July 25, 2016
discovery dispute conference, Plaintiff filed a motion to
compel as to Defendant S.A. Gear (Doc. 82) as well as a
motion to compel as to Defendants AutoZone, Inc., AutoZone
Stores, Inc., and AutoZone Parts, Inc. (“AutoZone
Defendants”) (Doc. 84). Following the July 25, 2016
discovery dispute conference, the Court issued a ruling on
portions of Plaintiff's motions to compel (Doc. 91);
however, the Court continued the discovery dispute conference
to August 24, 2016 to address the remaining disputes.
the August 24, 2016 discovery dispute conference, the Court
hereby GRANTS IN PART, DENIES IN PART, and FINDS AS MOOT IN
PART Plaintiffs' motions to compel, as set forth below.
August 24, 2016, the Court heard argument concerning
Plaintiffs' complaints regarding Defendants'
objections and responses to their interrogatories and
requests to produce. Largely, Plaintiffs' complaints
concerned Defendants' use of what Plaintiffs characterize
as “boilerplate” objections and Defendants'
invoking objections while still providing a response to the
request subject to their objection.
33(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prescribes
that “the grounds for objecting to an interrogatory
must be stated with specificity.” (emphasis
added). Indeed, courts have expressed serious reservations on
the efficacy of incorporating generalized objections to a
specific request, noting that parties making general
objections engage in a “dangerous practice”,
running the risk of having them summarily denied. Avante
Int'l Technology, Inc. v. Hart Intercivic,
Inc., Civil No. 07-169-DRH, 2008 WL 2074093 (S.D. Ill.
May 14, 2008), *2-*3. While boilerplate objections are
typically disfavored and often overruled, Rule 33(b)(3)
requires a party lodging a specific objection to a discovery
request to provide an answer to the request to the extent it
is not objected to. In other words, Rule 33 contemplates that
a party may object to a discovery request while still
providing a substantive response. While the Court is mindful
of Plaintiffs' argument that “there is no such
thing as ‘full' or ‘complete'”
responses to interrogatories that are subject to stated
objections, the Court finds Plaintiffs' argument
unavailing, particularly in light of the Seventh
Circuit's decision in Zahran v. Frankenmuth Mut. Ins.
Co., wherein the Court denied the plaintiffs' motion
to compel the defendant to provide further answers to
interrogatories as the defendant had fully answered the
plaintiffs' interrogatories subject to various objections
and the plaintiffs failed to set forth any instances in which
the defendant had not answered fully. 53 F.3d 334 (Table),
1995 WL 241392 (7th Cir. 1995).
light of the foregoing, and after hearing the arguments of
the parties, the Court hereby issues its rulings on
Plaintiffs' objections to Defendants' answers ...