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Wellman v. Norjigtov

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

November 26, 2018

RHONDA K. WELLMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
HASAN NORJIGITOV, and KEEN CARGO INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Cheryl A. Eifert United States Magistrate Judge.

         Pending are Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendant to Provide Responses to Plaintiff's Second Set of Request for Production of Documents, (ECF No. 60), and Plaintiff's Notice of Withdrawal of Motion to Compel Defendant to Provide Responses to Plaintiff's Second Set of Request for Production of Documents, (ECF No. 69). In view of the Notice of Withdrawal, the Motion to Compel is DENIED, (ECF No. 60), as moot.

         Also pending is Plaintiff's Amended Motion to Compel Defendant Keen Cargo Inc. to Provide Sufficient Answers to Plaintiff's Interrogatories, (ECF No. 52). Defendant Keen Cargo Inc. (“Keen”) has responded in opposition to the Motion, (ECF No. 58), and Plaintiff has replied. (ECF No. 62). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part, as set forth below.

         Interrogatory No. 2

         Plaintiff asks Keen to provide information about each lawsuit and claim asserted in the past five years where it was suggested or alleged that a person was injured or killed as a result of an act or omission of someone driving for Keen. In response, Keen provided the style of a single lawsuit that was filed in Brooke County, West Virginia. Plaintiff found this answer to be deficient, because Plaintiff was aware that drivers for Keen had been involved in fifteen accidents in the last twenty-four months, seven of which resulted in injuries to fourteen people. Keen defended its response, however, indicating that the Brooke County lawsuit was “the only suit known to [Keen] in which it was named as a defendant.” (ECF No. 58 at 1). Keen explained that it did not employ drivers or independent contractors as drivers. Instead, it contracted with other companies to supply drivers and paid those companies directly.

         Having carefully reviewed the interrogatory and Keen's answer, the Court ORDERS Keen within seven days of the date of this Order to provide Plaintiff with the information requested in Interrogatory No. 2 for any claim or lawsuit known to Keen involving a vehicle transporting shipments as part of, or on behalf of, Keen's business operations, regardless of who was driving the vehicle and regardless of whether Keen was sued or named in the claim or lawsuit. Plaintiff did not ask only for claims or lawsuits in which Keen was named as a party, nor did Plaintiff show any particular concern regarding the legal relationship between Keen and Keen's drivers. Rather, Plaintiff sought information about claims and lawsuits involving individuals transporting shipments for Keen. Consequently, Keen should provide that information.

         Interrogatory No. 3

         Plaintiff requests information regarding communications “of any kind” between “any federal and/or state agency and Keen” during the past five years that involve compliance or noncompliance with state and/or federal laws and/or regulations. Keen objects to the interrogatory as overly broad, arguing that being asked to “identify and explain” every such communication from the multitude of agencies with which Keen interacts for a period of five years is unreasonable on its face. Keen points out that the request does not limit its scope to communications concerning the co-defendant or even to Keen, itself; rather, it seeks all communications.

         The undersigned agrees with Keen that Plaintiff's request is overly broad on its face. Plaintiff fails to identify any particular agency, either state or federal, or any specific type of regulation(s) about which she seeks information. Keen is an interstate motor carrier likely subject to laws, regulations, rules, and agency oversight by the forty-eight contiguous states, as well as the United States. Many of these laws, rules, and regulations have no relevance to this case. Consequently, Keen's compliance or noncompliance with them is irrelevant. An interrogatory that requires Keen to search, gather, identify, and explain useless communications is not proportional to the needs of the case and, thus, is beyond the scope of permissible discovery. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Therefore, Plaintiff's motion to compel an additional response to this interrogatory is DENIED. If Plaintiff requires information regarding Keen's compliance with regulations pertinent to the issues in this case, then Plaintiff needs to draft a more specific interrogatory.

         Interrogatory No. 5

         In this interrogatory, Plaintiff asks several questions regarding the load transported by co-defendant, Hasan Norjigitov. Keen answered some of the questions, but failed to provide detailed information about the reasons for and duration of various stops taken by Mr. Norjigitov during a 24-hour travel period. Plaintiff asks the Court to compel Keen to provide more detailed information about what the co-defendant did during his stops. Plaintiff contends that an investigation of Mr. Norjigitov's logs suggests that Mr. Norjigitov may have intentionally falsified or manipulated the logs. Plaintiff argues that the information sought is readily accessible to Keen, although Plaintiff fails to explain the factual basis for that contention. Keen, on the other hand, denies that it has any additional knowledge concerning of Mr. Norjigitov's trip, including the details of his stops. Keen states that Daily Logs prepared by Mr. Norjigitov constitute the extent of Keen's information on the subject.

         To the extent that Keen does have additional information-either in its possession, or reasonably accessible to it-regarding the reasons for and/or duration of Mr. Norjigitov's stops during the relevant twenty-four hour period, Keen is ORDERED to provide that information to Plaintiff within seven days of the date of this Order. However, if Mr. Norjigitov is the only available source of that information, then Plaintiff will have to direct her inquiry to Mr. Norjigitov.

         Interrogatory No. 8

         Plaintiff asks Keen to identify the steps it took to qualify Hasan Norjigitov as a driver in accordance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act. Keen objects to the interrogatory as irrelevant and disproportional, stating that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act does not require a commercial trucking broker to qualify drivers and adding that Keen did not take any steps to qualify Hasan Norjigitov to obtain or hold a valid commercial driver's license. Plaintiff states that she seeks a simple answer to a simple question; that being, what steps, if any, did Keen take to qualify Mr. Norjigitov as a driver before letting him operate under Keen's authority? According to Plaintiff, Keen has not answered this question. The undersigned agrees with Plaintiff. Keen has answered other questions that ...


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