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Tequila Centinela, S.A. de C.V. v. Bacardi & Company Limited

January 18, 2008

TEQUILA CENTINELA, S.A. DE C.V., PLAINTIFF,
v.
BACARDI & COMPANY LIMITED, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the defendant's Second Motion [45] to Compel Discovery and to have Certain Matters Deemed Admitted. Upon consideration of the defendant's motion, the plaintiff's opposition thereto, the defendant's reply brief, the applicable law, and the entire record herein, the Court concludes that the defendant's Second Motion to Compel will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Court's reasoning is set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant, Bacardi & Company Limited ("Bacardi") comes before this Court seeking an order to compel discovery from the plaintiff, Tequila Centinela, S.A. de C.V., ("Centinela"), and to have certain matters deemed admitted. The underlying case before the Court involves the review of the March 5, 2003, February 24, 2004, and October 19, 2004 Decisions and Orders of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to the extent they were adverse to Centinela. (Def's. 2d Mot. Compel at 2.) Centinela seeks review and reversal of the TTAB's: (1) grant of Bacardi's and joint opposer's motion for summary judgment in Opposition No. 91-125,436 ("Opposition"), on their claim of fraud and finding that Centinela's "material misrepresentations made in connection with its application were fraudulent;" (2) denial of Centinela's motion to amend its application to narrow the identification of goods; (3) grant of Bacardi's motion to join as a party-plaintiff and finding that Bacardi has standing to bring and maintain the Opposition; and (4) grant of Bacardi's motion to amend the Notice of Opposition to assert a claim of fraud. (Id.)

On March 29, 2007, this Court denied Bacardi's first Motion to Compel Discovery for Bacardi's failure to comply with Local Civil Rule 7(m). On July 9, 2007, Bacardi filed this 2d Motion to Compel Discovery from Centinela on a number of discovery matters that remain in dispute.

II. DISCUSSION

Bacardi seeks an Order from this Court: (1) directing Centinela to respond in full to Bacardi's Interrogatories Nos. 2 and 4; (2) directing Centinela to respond in full to Bacardi's First Set of Requests for Admission Nos. 44 and 45 and Bacardi's Second Set of Requests for Admission Nos. 55-62; (3) directing Centinela to respond in full and/or produce all documents responsive to Bacardi's Requests for Production of Documents and Things Nos. 2, 4--10, 13--14, 16, 20, 22, 28, 34, 40, and 42--43; (4) directing Centinela to produce a chart showing which confidential documents are responsive to which of Bacardi's Requests for Production of Documents and Things; and (5) deeming the subject matter of Bacardi's Third Set of Requests for Admission as admitted or, in the alternative, directing it to respond in full to Bacardi's Third Set of Requests for Admission Nos. 64--95.*fn1 (See Def's. 2d Mot. Compel at 30.)

A. Legal Standard

Trial courts have considerable discretion when handling discovery matters. Food Lion Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers Int'l Union, 103 F.3d 1007, 1012 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (citing Brune v. Internal Revenue Serv., 861 F.2d 1284, 1288 (D.C. Cir. 1988)). The scope of discovery in civil actions is broad, allowing for discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to a claim or defense. See FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). The term relevance at the discovery stage is broadly construed to include information which is not admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. See id. All discovery is subject, however, to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C). See id. Furthermore, discovery of matters not "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence" are not within the scope of discovery. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 352 (1978) (internal citation omitted).

Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a "[o]n 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)(1).

B. Sufficiency of Centinela's Responses to Bacardi's First Set of Interrogatories

Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may serve on any other party interrogatories related to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b). FED. R. CIV. P. 33(a)(2). Each interrogatory must, to the extent it is not objected to, be answered separately and fully in writing under oath. See FED. R. CIV. P. 33(b)(3). Bacardi claims that Centinela's responses to Interrogatory Nos. 2 and 4 are deficient and asks this Court, pursuant to Rule 37, to require Centinela to provide full and complete responses.

1. Interrogatory No. 2

Bacardi's Interrogatory No. 2 asks Centinela to "[i]dentify all parties and/or persons that have any rights in Plaintiff's Mark." (Def's. 2d Mot. to Compel at 3.) Centinela objects that the language of Interrogatory No. 2 is overly broad, harassing, and unduly burdensome. Centinela's response, however, states that "Plaintiff is the entity that has rights in Plaintiff's Mark." (Id.) Bacardi claims that during a telephone conference with Centinela's counsel, Centinela represented that it owns all rights in Plaintiff's Mark. (Id. at 4.) Bacardi states that Centinela's representation would ...


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