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Nwinee v. St. Louis Developmental Disabilities Treatment Centers

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

July 17, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to compel plaintiff's responses to interrogatories and requests for production, to which plaintiff has filed a response. The issues were addressed at a hearing on July 16, 2019.[1]

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Pius Barikpoa Nwinee, who proceeds pro se, has been employed since June 2012 as a Developmental Assistant by defendant St. Louis Developmental Disabilities Treatment Center. He alleges that he has been denied the opportunity to interview for supervisory positions based on his race and national origin. He asserts claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and the “Missouri Civil Rights Act.”

         On January 31, 2019, defendants propounded their first sets of interrogatories and requests for production. In his responses provided on March 4, 2019, plaintiff failed to answer or gave incomplete responses to many of the requests. After a number of phone conversations, plaintiff provided supplemental responses to interrogatories and produced some documents. Defendants argue that his responses remain incomplete or are otherwise deficient.

         II. Discussion

         Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1) (“On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery.”). Rule 26 governs the scope of discovery and provides that:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “Some threshold showing of relevance must be made before parties are required to open wide the doors of discovery and to produce a variety of information which does not reasonably bear upon the issues in the case.” Morrison v. Hale, No. 4:17-CV-875-NAB, 2018 WL 1792208, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 16, 2018) (quoting Hofer v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1992). “Upon a showing by the requesting party that the discovery is relevant, the burden is on the party resisting discovery to explain why discovery should be limited.” Id. (quoting CitiMortgage, Inc. v. Allied Mortg. Group, Inc., 4:10CV1863 JAR, 2012 WL 1554908, at *2 (E.D. Mo. May 1, 2012)). The Court has reviewed defendants' discovery requests and determined that the information sought is relevant to the claims and defenses.

         III. Discussion

         A. Information Regarding Other Disputes

         In response to interrogatories 4, 19, and 20, plaintiff states that he “filed an action against St. Agnes Nursing home. The action resolved in my favored [sic]. Plaintiff lost documents on settlement because of moving.” [Doc. # 39-2 at 14; 27-28]. His supplemental responses do not materially alter or add to this answer. [Doc. # 39-4 at 2, 4]. Plaintiff objects, however, that his “dispute with St. Agnes Nursing Home . . . is a matter of public records and equally open to Defendants.” [Doc. # 39-4 at 4, 9]. Although plaintiff is not required to produce documents that are no longer in his possession, he must (1) state whether his dispute with St. Agnes Nursing Home was an administrative action and/or judicial action; (2) state with specificity what agency and/or court the action was filed in; (3) provide the full case name and case number; and (4) state when the action was filed. If necessary, plaintiff must consult the public record to provide this information. He should also identify the nature of his claim against St. Agnes Nursing Home; for example, employment discrimination, personal injury, breach of contract, etc. Plaintiff should also identify any public records he consulted in completing his responses.

         Interrogatory 12 seeks information regarding other judicial or administrative proceedings in which plaintiff has been involved as a witness or a party, including the nature of the proceeding and his participation, the date of filing and docket number; and the present status of each proceeding and, if concluded, the nature of the disposition. In response, plaintiff stated that he “was once a plaintiff in Kiobel v. Shell . . .” [Doc. # 39-2 at 21]. In his supplemental responses, plaintiff objects that the requested information is a matter of public record and equally available to defendants. Again, plaintiff must provide the full case name and number, the court in which it was filed, the present status of the case and, if concluded, the disposition of the case. He should again identify any public records he consults in an effort to respond.

         B. Information Regarding Plaintiff's ...

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