United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to
compel discovery. (Doc. No. 22). Defendant opposes the
motion. (Doc. No. 24). For the reasons set forth below, the
motion to compel will be granted in part and denied in part.
premises liability slip-and-fall case was initially filed on
November 18, 2016, in Missouri state court. Defendant timely
removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, and Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint
on December 12, 2017. (Doc. No. 17). In the first amended
complaint, Plaintiffs allege that the mats in the entryway of
Wal-Mart Store No. 1188 were overlapping, resulting in the
floor not being reasonably safe. Plaintiffs allege that
although Defendant had a policy that floor mats are to be
removed in the absence of wet weather, Defendant's
employees ignored or failed to enforce this policy. As a
result of Defendant's negligence, Plaintiffs allege that
Plaintiff Meri-Lynn Jordan fell on overlapping mats and
sustained damages to her head and left hip. Plaintiff Scott
Jordan alleges one count of state law loss of consortium.
filed the instant motion to compel discovery on April 20,
2018. Specifically, Plaintiffs request that the Court compel
Defendant to provide more complete answers to Plaintiffs'
First Interrogatories Nos. 2, 10, and 14.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), "[p]arties may
obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that
is relevant to the claim or defense of any party."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). This phrase "has been construed
broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that
reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any
issue that is or may be in the case." Armstrong v.
Hussmann Corp., 163 F.R.D. 299, 302 (E.D.Mo. 1995)
(quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S.
340, 351 (1978)). Notably, the standard of relevance in the
context of discovery is broader than in the context of
admissibility at trial. Hofer v. Mack Trucks, 981
F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1992).
the proponent of discovery makes a threshold showing of
relevance, the party opposing a motion to compel has the
burden of showing its objections are valid by providing
specific explanations or factual support as to how each
discovery request is improper. Hofer v. Mack Trucks,
Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1993). "A
district court is afforded wide discretion in its handling of
discovery matters." Cook v. Kartridg Pak Co.,
840 F.2d 602, 604 (8th Cir. 1988) (citation omitted).
argue that their interrogatories seek information relevant to
this premises liability lawsuit. To prevail in a slip and
fall case, the plaintiff must prove: (1) a dangerous
condition existed on the defendant's property which
involved an unreasonable risk; (2) the defendant knew or by
using ordinary care should have known of the condition; (3)
the defendant failed to use ordinary care in removing or
warning of the danger; and (4) the plaintiff was injured as a
result. Phillips v. Drury Sw., Inc., 524 S.W.3d 228,
230 (Mo.Ct.App. 2017). Missouri courts have defined
"ordinary care" as the degree of care that an
ordinarily careful person would use under the same or similar
circumstances. Roberson v. AFC Enterprises, Inc.,
602 F.3d 931, 934 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing Lopez v. Three
Rivers Elec. Coop, Inc., 26 S.W.3d 151, 158 (Mo. 2000)
(en banc)). First Interrogatory No. 2
Plaintiffs' First Interrogatory No. 2 seeks any
statements made by Plaintiffs that are contained in medical
records obtained by Defendant pursuant to medical
authorizations executed by Plaintiffs. Defendants objected on
the basis that the records are equally or more available to
common practice for a party who obtains records with the
authorization of the opposing party to provide copies of
those records to opposing counsel within a reasonable period
of time. Although nothing in the Federal Rules requires
Defendant to provide copies absent a discovery request, a
discovery request is present here. See Washam v.
Evans, No. 2;IOCVOOI5O JLH, 2011 WL 2559850, at *3 (E.D.
Ark. June 29, 2011). Thus, the Court will order Defendant to
produce copies of any medical records containing statements
made by Plaintiffs. Providing Plaintiffs with a copy of any
medical records obtained by Defendant will be deemed to
comply with this order.
Interrogatory No. 10
Interrogatory No. 10 seeks the total number of Wal-Mart
stores that Defendant operated at the time of the slip and
fall. Defendant objects that the information
sought is irrelevant because the number of stores operated by
Defendant has no bearing on its duty to Plaintiffs.
careful consideration and after weighing the proportionality
factors under Rule 26, the Court will direct Defendant to
fully respond to the interrogatory. While Defendant may
disagree with Plaintiffs' argument that the size of
Defendant is relevant to Defendant's duty of care to
Plaintiffs, this information could have relevance on other
issues including notice. Further, Defendant may argue its
position on relevance and admissibility at a later stage in