Overdue and Boilerplate Discovery Responses Result in Finding of Waiver of Objections, Denial of Protective Order
In Parkcrest Builders, LLC v. Housing Authority of New Orleans, Section J(4), Case No. 15-1533 (E.D. La., Apr. 21 2017), after Plaintiff sued Defendant Housing Authority of New Orleans (“New Orleans”), various parties were added to the case as counter-defendants. Counter-Defendant Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“Liberty”) filed a Motion for Protective Order and also requested an extension of time to respond to Defendant’s discovery requests. The facts underlying the motion for the protective order arose from interrogatories and a request for production of documents served by Defendant New Orleans upon Liberty. Liberty requested an extension of time to respond to this discovery three days after the responses and objections were already due, and only after Liberty received an email from Defendant regarding the overdue responses. Previously, Liberty had granted Defendant New Orleans extensions of time to serve its discovery responses, so Liberty expected a reciprocal courtesy from Defendant New Orleans. However, Defendant denied Liberty’s request for an extension as presented. Instead, Defendant New Orleans offered to extend the time to respond if Liberty would agree to produce its documents with metadata (the parties had been in ongoing discussions to potentially revise the ESI Protocol). Liberty agreed to serve responses within the time extension stated by Defendant New Orleans. However, instead of providing the responsive documents sought by Defendant, Liberty served narrative objections. Defendant argued that such objections had been waived due to the lateness of Liberty’s responses. Liberty then served supplemental responses but concurrenly filed its Protective Motion.
Liberty’s objections included that Defendant’s interrogatories exceeded the allowed number,and that many of the requests were improper, and Liberty further sought an extension of time to respond due to the requirements of the case’s ESI protocol. Defendant filed a competing Motion to Compel.
Upon consideration of the dueling motions, the court agreed with Liberty regarding Defendant’s requesting an excessive number of interrogatories and granted the protective order as to that issue. The court also sustained certain of Liberty’s claims of privilege. With respect to the waiver of objections, the court noted that although the parties had agreed to an extension, and Liberty asserted that it had complied by serving its narrative objections, Liberty had not given any meaningful response, as it offered boilerplate objections to discovery requests. The court also could not find that Liberty’s attempts to resolve the issues with the ESI protocol were a good faith reason for delay. Therefore, the court held that Liberty had waived its objections that the requests were overbroad, vague, burdensome, oppressive and/or irrelevant. The court granted Defendant’s Motion to Compel with respect to these requests and denied the Motion for Protective Order to that extent. Finally, the court gave Liberty an additional three weeks to finish its discovery responses but ordered continued production on a rolling basis.