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Gustafson v. BI-State Development Agency of Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District

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

September 9, 2019

SCOTT GUSTAFSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BI-STATE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE MISSOURI-ILLINOIS METROPOLITAN DISTRICT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District's motion to compel interrogatory responses. Plaintiff Scott Gustafson opposes the motion. Defendant has also filed a notice of hearing on its motion to compel. Upon careful consideration of the motion and the written record, the Court finds a hearing on this matter is not necessary. For the following reasons, the Court will grant in part and deny in part defendant's motion to compel.

         Plaintiff, a visually impaired resident of Missouri, brings this action against defendant, a corporation and political subdivision of the State of Missouri which operates public transit services in the City of St. Louis. Plaintiff alleges claims under Title II of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794, for failure to provide him with equal access to services and public places of accommodation, including the MetroBus and MetroLink transit systems.

         In the motion to compel, defendant asks the Court to compel plaintiff to elaborate on his responses to defendant's interrogatories. Specifically, defendant argues that plaintiff improperly provided nonresponsive narratives and evasive answers by failing to address the sub-parts of Interrogatory Nos. 2, 4, 5, 9, and 10. Defendant also asserts that plaintiff improperly refers to documents as his answers and that his objections to certain interrogatories should be denied.

         On review of the record, the Court finds that defendant made a sufficient good faith effort to confer with plaintiff in an effort to resolve this discovery dispute as required by Local Rule 3.04(A). Attached to plaintiff's motion to compel is a letter, dated July 3, 2019, from defendant to plaintiff seeking supplemental answers to defendant's interrogatory requests. (Doc. 51-1). Although correspondence alone is insufficient to constitute a good faith effort to resolve under the local rule, on July 13, 2019, counsel for the parties had a telephone conference to discuss the discovery dispute, and plaintiff provided supplemental responses to Interrogatories 2, 4, 5, 9, and 10. Defendant remained unsatisfied with those responses for the aforementioned reasons.

         Interrogatory No. 2

         Defendant's Interrogatory No. 2 asks plaintiff to “[i]dentify any statements that have been taken from Defendant, or taken on Plaintiff's behalf, relating to the facts that are the subject of this litigation[, ]” including the person who gave or made the statement, the date when the statement was taken, and the person who took the statement.

         Plaintiff objected to this interrogatory as ambiguous, overbroad, unduly burdensome, and improperly seeking discovery not proportional to the needs of the case by requesting plaintiff to identify every public communication of defendant. In defendant's July 3rd letter to plaintiff, defendant clarified that it sought a response as to “whether Plaintiff or anyone on his behalf has taken a statement of a former or current Defendant employee. For example, did Plaintiff obtain any written statements from Defendant's bus drivers? Did his sister obtain any statements from a train operator? Has his attorneys obtained any written statements from Defendant's former or current employees?” (Doc. 51-1).

         In the supplemental answer to Interrogatory No. 4, plaintiff re-asserts his original objections, but provides the following definitive answer: “In order to avoid a discovery dispute, Plaintiff has collected no written statements as Defendant defined and clarified this interrogatory in its July 3, 2019 correspondence.” (Doc. 52-2 at 3).

         The Court finds plaintiff's supplemental answer to be a direct and satisfactory response to the question asked and will deny defendant's motion to compel as to Interrogatory No. 2.

         Interrogatory No. 4

         Defendant's Interrogatory No. 4 asks plaintiff to “describe with specificity for each alleged act of discrimination: (a) the manner and method of defendant's discrimination against plaintiff; (b) the individual(s) who discriminated against him; (c) all facts supporting the alleged act of discrimination was intentional; (d) the date when the discrimination began; and (e) the date when the discrimination ended.”

         Plaintiff objected to this interrogatory as overbroad and unduly burdensome because he has already been deposed on the now-dismissed state law claims, and can be re-deposed on his federal claims. Plaintiff further objected on the basis that Interrogatory No. 4 is a contention interrogatory and, thus, premature. Despite these objections, plaintiff provided a two and a half page narrative account of the alleged discrimination and supporting facts.

         In defendant's July 3rd letter to plaintiff, defendant indicated it was not satisfied with plaintiff's response because he failed to address each subpart individually and sequentially with plaintiff's “specific claims of discrimination and basic details of each discriminatory act.” (Doc. 51-1 at 2). In response, plaintiff reasserts his original objections and supplements his ...


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