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Pugh v. Junqing

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 4, 2017

TIFFANY PUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
FANG JUNQING and YING LAN TRUCKING EXPRESS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs First Motion to Compel (ECF No. 16). Plaintiff claims that Defendants have lodged meritless and obstructive objections. This motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         This case arises from an accident that occurred on November 12, 2015 when Plaintiff Tiffany Pugh was rear-ended by a Ying Lan Trucking Express ("Ying Lan") tractor trailer operated by Defendant Fang Junqing.

         A. Plaintiffs Interrogatory No. 22 to Defendant Fang

         Plaintiffs interrogatory number 22 asks defendant Junqing to identify "all complaints, investigations, discipline, legal actions, tickets, arrests, and/or government proceedings regarding your motor vehicle driving." Defendant objects on the basis that the interrogatory seeks irrelevant information. Defendant notes that this interrogatory seeks the entirety of Defendant Junqing's driving record, without limitation, including parking tickets and incidents that occurred after the collision on November 12, 2015. Defendant argues that such incidents are irrelevant to this action. Defendant further claims that he fully answered interrogatory number 22. Finally, Defendant claims that Plaintiff failed to notify counsel for Defendant that there was any continued dispute as to interrogatory number 22 after the June 20, 2017 discovery conference.

         The Court holds that Defendant Fang's driving record, including all complaints, investigations, discipline, legal actions, tickets, arrests, and/or government proceedings regarding his motor vehicle driving, prior to the incident are relevant to this action. Although Defendant relies on Hale v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 756 F.2d 1322, 1332 (8th Cir. 1985), that case only stands for the proposition that evidence of other truck wheel accidents was not discoverable. The Court holds that Defendant Fang's driving record prior to the accident is relevant to Plaintiffs claims for negligent hiring and negligence and grants Plaintiffs motion with respect to those items. The Court, however, holds that Defendant Fang's driving record after the accident is not discoverable and irrelevant.

         B. Plaintiffs Interrogatory No. 6 to Defendant Ying Lan

         Plaintiffs interrogatory number 6 asks defendant Ying Lan to "state whether Defendant Fang was this Defendant's employee, agent, and/or servant at the time and place of the occurrence described in Plaintiffs Petition and whether his conduct at the time of the subject wreck was in furtherance of Defendant's business and/or incidental thereto." Defendant objected on the grounds that the interrogatory required it to form an opinion concerning a matter not within its expertise. (ECF No. 17 at 5 (citing Woods v. City of St. Louis Police Dep't, No. 4.-07CV931 SNLJ, 2009 WL 1650093, at *3 (E.D. Mo. June 12, 2009)). Defendant answered that defendant Junqing was hauling a load of freight for Ying Lan at the time of the incident. Defendant claims that it cannot answer an interrogatory that asks it to form a legal conclusion which would have implications for vicarious liability. Defendant again notes that Plaintiff failed to notify counsel for Defendant that there was any continued dispute as to interrogatory number 6 after the June 20, 2017 discovery conference.

         The Court agrees that Defendant Ying Lan cannot provide a legal conclusion regarding Defendant Fang's employment status. The Court denies Plaintiffs Motion to Compel as to interrogatory number 6 to Defendant Ying Lan. Defendant Ying Lan shall, however, provide employment documents that can assist the parties and the Court in determining Defendant Fang's employment status at the time of the incident.

         C. Plaintiffs Request for Production No. 18 to Defendant Ying Lan

         Plaintiffs request for production number 18 seeks Defendant's policies, procedures, rules, and manuals regarding: (a) motor vehicle operation by employees; (b) driver training, education and testing; (c) driver requirements for sleep, rest and time off; (d) employee/driver work log and/or record-keeping requirements; (e) vehicle inspection, maintenance, service, and repair; (f) use of cell phone, radio and other audio communication by employee/drivers; and, (g) employee/driver hiring, retention and firing. Defendant objects that this request is overbroad and that evidence of subsequent remedial measures are irrelevant and inadmissible to show prior negligence. Subject to these objections, Defendant produced the policies that were included in Defendant Junqing's personnel file. During the parties' discovery conference on June 20, 2017, Plaintiff agreed to limit request number 18 to those records applicable on the date of the incident and thereafter. Defendant supplemented its response with additional policies, but maintained its objection regarding subsequent remedial measures.

         The Court holds that Defendant's production of the policies and procedures in place at the time of the incident is sufficient. See Huggins v. Fed. Express Corp., 250 F.R.D. 404, 407 (E.D. Mo. 2008) (allowing production of "Any documents evidencing any procedures or criteria for [FedEx]'s hiring of drivers that were in effect at the time of the [i]ncident or during the time Defendant's driver was employed."). Plaintiff has not identified any reason for needing policies and procedures that were in place long before or subsequent to the incident. Because it appears that Defendant has already produced these policies and procedures, the Court denies the Motion to Compel additional documents responsive to request for production number 18.

         D. Plaintiffs Request for Production No. 27 to Defendant Fang

         In request number 27, Plaintiff requests defendant Junqing produce "[a]ll social media (including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Tumblr, and YouTube), social networking, blog, and/or internet postings, photographs, uploads, messages, updates, events, and/or entries by Defendant in the 12-hour period immediately before and after the subject wreck." Defendant objects on the basis that the request seeks irrelevant information and the burden to produce such documents outweighs the benefit to ...


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