United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge
an employment discrimination action. The plaintiff initiated
this lawsuit by filing a complaint against Franklin County on
June 13, 2015. (Doc. 1.) In this complaint the plaintiff
alleges that he was formerly employed at the Franklin County
Jail, and he claims that other employees at the jail
discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with
parties are now embroiled in a discovery dispute, with the
plaintiff alleging that defendants have failed to provide
required discovery in response to the interrogatories served
upon them, and the defendants insisting that the plaintiff
has issued excessive and improper discovery demands. (Docs.
35 and 36.) Specifically, the defendant contends that the
plaintiff has exceeded the 25 interrogatory limit set by Rule
33 by filing a set of interrogatories which contain numerous
independent sub-parts, and then further compounding the
compound nature of the interrogatories by sub-dividing many
of these sub-parts into multiple sub-subsections.
examination of the interrogatories reveals that there is
merit to the defendant's concerns. While the plaintiff
has listed only 13 interrogatories, the 13 interrogatories
are broadly grouped around general subject matter headings.
Of these 13 interrogatories, 10 are then divided into
numerous sub-parts which pose discrete questions concerning
each of the broad subject matter headings. Thus, when the
total number of sub-parts set forth in these 13
interrogatories are separately counted, the total number of
interrogatories and sub-parts approaches some 39 queries.
Furthermore, many of these interrogatories, or interrogatory
sub-part, in turn, are divided into numerous subsections.
Indeed, by our count there may be as many as 26 sub-sections
contained within these interrogatories, or interrogatory
sub-parts. Thus, the total number of separate, discrete
factual inquiries contained within the body of these
interrogatories may be as many as 65 independent inquiries.
Viewed in this light, the interrogatories are more akin to a
deposition on written questions.
an initial conference with counsel, and in order to address
these issues, we ordered that the parties' submissions on
this discovery dispute be deemed to be a motion to compel,
(Doc. 35.) and motion for protective order (Doc. 36.)
respectively. We then instructed the parties to initially
brief the question of whether the discovery demands in this
matter are excessive in that they violate the discovery
limitations prescribed by the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The parties have complied with this direction,
fully briefing their positions on this matter. Accordingly,
these motions are ripe for resolution.
reasons set forth below, we will grant the defendant's
motion for protective order, and will not require the
defendant to respond to these excessive interrogatories
beyond the responses which the defendant initially provided.
However, recognizing that our after-the-fact assessment of
whether the manner in which these interrogatories were
structured violated the limitations prescribed by the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure may hobble the plaintiff in
preparing his case, we will allow the plaintiff leave to
propound 12 additional, narrowly tailored interrogatories.
basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant
discovery dispute. At the outset, Rule 37 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery,
and provides that:
(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery
(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected
persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure
or discovery. . . .
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a).
scope of what type of discovery may be compelled under Rule
37 is defined, in turn, by Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. Fed. ...