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Career Employment Professionals, Inc. v. Manufacturers Alliance Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

July 31, 2019

CAREER EMPLOYMENT PROFESSIONALS, INC. d/b/a Trace Staffing Solutions, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MANUFACTURERS ALLIANCE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Christopher L. Ray United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is Manufacturers Alliance Insurance Company and Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company's (collectively “PMA”) Motion to Compel, doc. 64, and Amended Motion to Compel, doc. 65. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Accordingly, the Court determines both parties should be assessed certain costs and fees associated with bringing this motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 and DIRECTS the parties to file supplemental briefs or indicate that they have resolved this issue by agreement.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court has already recited the pertinent factual background of this case in disposing its myriad discovery disputes. Docs. 61, 101, 102. All that is relevant now is the December 19, 2018 Notice of Taking Rule 30(b)(6) Depositions PMA sent to plaintiffs. Doc. 65-1 at 3. This notice included 59 topics covering a variety of issues. Id. Only days before the deposition was set to occur, plaintiffs served objections to the majority of topics and indicated that they would not designate a deponent for many others. Id. at 3.

         The deposition went forward, but not as planned. Before asking any questions, counsel engaged in an extended, on the record, debate regarding the appropriate manner in which to handle the examination. Doc. 65-4 at 3-11 (the deposition transcripts begin with a 33-page dispute which, although it is difficult to determine for certain, appeared to encompass over an hour of deposition time). After bandying about in this fashion, defendants left the room to give plaintiff a two-hour break to further prepare before resuming the deposition, and swearing the witness. Doc. 65-4 at 13. Over the course of the next three days, all defendants pressed plaintiff's 30(b)(6) designee, Ms. Grimes, on a variety of topics-including the financial arrangements of plaintiffs (more on this later). For some of these questions, Ms. Grimes was suitably prepared. For others, she was not. Defendants raised the following issues with her preparation:

1. She did not receive the notice until the week of January 7, 2019;
2. She did not begin preparing for the deposition until the day before;
3. She spent no more than 8 hours preparing;
4. She did not read the operative complaint;
5. She was unaware of the allegations of claims mismanagement contained in the complaint;
6. She was unaware of the causes of action involved in the complaint;
7. She was unaware of the number and names of workers' compensation claims involved in the case;
8. She was unable to provide the years that the PMA policies covered;
9. She did not read the 2013 insurance policy from MAICO;
10. She did not read the majority of the 2014 insurance policy from PMAICO;
11. She reviewed no more than five pages of the two lengthy PMA policies;
12. She did not review any emails in advance of her deposition;
13. She was unable to speak on emails sent regarding claims handling or mismanagement;
14. She did not review any of the document production prior to deposition or production;
15. She was unfamiliar with her discovery responses;
16. She did not read documents regarding transferring of PMA related liabilities or assets;
17. And was unable to provide evidence that plaintiff's implemented precautions contained in plaintiffs' safety manual.

Doc. 65-1 at 16-17. More concerning, however, is that defendants allege that Ms. Grimes may lack the authority to speak for plaintiffs.[1] Id. at 4.

         Plaintiffs object to this characterization of the events. They argue that defendants PMA manipulated a deposition exhibit to exclude relevant information. Doc. 67 at 4. Plaintiffs also note that Ms. Grimes was able to answer many questions from memory-although there were exhibits that could have been used to refresh her recollection-and that she appropriately relied on her broker to determine which policies to purchase. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiffs also argue that it is inappropriate for the defendants to argue about the failure to produce a safety manual when no formal discovery request was made. Id. at 8. Finally, plaintiffs argue that defendants violated this Court's October 17, 2018 order which ...


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