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Convertino v. United States Dep't of Justice

July 7, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge


This matter comes before the Court on defendant Department of Justice's Motion [83] to Compel Proper Discovery Responses from Plaintiff. Upon consideration of defendant's motion [83], plaintiff's opposition [86] and defendant's reply [88], the entire record herein and all applicable law, defendant's motion [83] will be GRANTED.


Plaintiff Richard G. Convertino ("Convertino") brought the instant action against the United States Department of Justice ("Justice") and other named defendants on February 13, 2004. Count I of the complaint alleged violations of Convertino's rights under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Lloyd-LaFollete Act and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Count II alleges that the Department of Justice violated Convertino's rights under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. §522 et. seq.

On October 19, 2005, the Court dismissed Convertino's claims under Count I of his complaint. (See Ct. Order [30].) On November 13, 2006, Justice filed a Motion to Compel Discovery Responses [51] from Convertino. On August 8, 2007 the Court granted Convertino's Motion to Stay These Proceedings [57] pending a verdict or disposition of related criminal proceedings. (Ct. Order [66].) In the same order, the Court denied Justice's Motion to Compel [51] without prejudice to renewal upon the lifting of the stay. (Id.)

On December 13, 2007 the stay in this action was lifted. (See docket [77].) On December 20, 2007, upon consideration of a joint motion of the parties, the Court entered a Scheduling Order (Ct. Order [80]), directing Convertino to respond to all outstanding discovery requests by January 25, 2008. On February 25, 2008, Justice filed its Renewed Motion to Compel [83], which was followed by Convertino's opposition [86] of March 21, 2008, and Justice's reply [88] of March 31, 2008.


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). 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 "[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. Convertino's General Objections

"The party objecting to . . . discovery bears the burden of 'show[ing] why discovery should not be permitted.' " Alexander v. F.B.I., 194 F.R.D. 299, 302 (D.D.C. 2000) (Lamberth, J.) (quoting: Alexander v. FBI, 193 F.R.D. 1, 2-3 (D.D.C. 2000)). A party objecting to a document request must "includ[e] the reasons" for the objection. Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(B). This requirement enables the requesting party to evaluate and determine whether to challenge the objection raised. "When faced with general objections, the applicability of which to specific document requests is not explained further, '[t]his Court will not raise objections for [the responding party],' but instead will 'overrule[] [the responding party's] objection[s] on those grounds.'" D.L. v. District of Columbia, 2008 WL 2555101, at *2 (D.D.C. June 27, 2008) (Lamberth, C.J.) (quoting Tequila Centinela, S.A. de C.V. v. Bacardi & Co., Ltd., 242 F.R.D 1, 12 (D.D.C. 2007) (Lamberth, J.)).

Similarly, "[t]he grounds for objecting to an interrogatory must be stated with specificity. Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the court, for good cause, excuses the failure." Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(4).

Convertino begins his responses to Justice's discovery requests with a list of "general objections." (See Def.'s Mem. Exs. 6, 7.) These general objections are then "incorporated by reference" to each specific discovery response. (See id.) This type of general reference to "boilerplate" objections provides no indication as to the ...

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