United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER (ECF NO.
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action arises out of the Defendant's servicing and
purported mishandling of the Plaintiff's mortgage loan.
Familiarity with both the allegations and the tortured
procedural history of this case is presumed. On May 1, 2019,
the Defendant moved pursuant to Rule 26(b)(1) and Local Rule
37 for a protective order excusing it from producing
requested internal monthly loan reports (“HSSN
reports”). The Plaintiff filed an opposition on May 21,
2019 and therein narrowed her request for HSSN reports to
those generated from June 1, 2016 to March 1, 2017. Following
the Court's Order of June 4, 2019, the Defendant filed a
reply indicating (1) that the parties had met and conferred;
and (2) that the Plaintiff still requests approximately 268
HSSN reports. The Plaintiff filed a sur-reply on June 20,
2019, in which she disputes the Defendant's account of
the discussion and contends that the Defendant refused to
provide additional information which would allow her to
“meaningfully” narrow her request even further.
scope of discovery permitted under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure is set forth in Rule 26(b)(1):
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely
benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
“Relevance for discovery purposes is an extremely broad
concept which ‘has been construed ... to encompass any
matter that bears on, or reasonably could lead to other
matters that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in
the case.'” Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. v.
Unger, 171 F.R.D. 94, 101 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (quoting
Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351
(1978)); see also Troupin v. Metro. Life Ins.
Co., 169 F.R.D. 546, 547 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)
(“[R]elevance is defined broadly to include any
materials which appear reasonably calculated to lead to the
discovery of admissible evidence.”) (citing cases)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
so, the Court has discretion under Rule 26(c) to issue
protective orders limiting the scope of discovery. Dove
v. Atlantic Capital Corp., 963 F.2d 15, 19 (2d Cir.
1992) (“[t]he grant and nature of protection is
singularly within the discretion of the district
court....”). “[A] district court may issue
protective orders ‘for good cause ... to protect a
party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or
undue burden or expense.'” S.E.C. v.
Rajaratnam, 622 F.3d 159, 181 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)). The party seeking to restrict
discovery bears the burden of “demonstrating the
necessity for such an order.” Mitchell v.
Fishbein, 227 F.R.D. 239, 254 (S.D.N.Y. 2005); see
also In re Initial Pub. Offering Sec. Litig., 220 F.R.D.
30, 33 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citing cases). “Ordinarily,
good cause exists when a party shows that disclosure will
result in a clearly defined, specific and serious
injury.” In re Terrorist Attacks on Sept. 11,
2001, 454 F.Supp.2d 220, 222 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). Courts are ever mindful
that the scope of the discovery should be proportionate to
the claims in the case. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
the Defendant asserts that the information contained in the
HSSN reports is duplicative of previously-produced internal
communications. The Defendant also estimates that the process
of reviewing, redacting and producing the reports will
require between 130 and 270 hours of employee resources at a
cost of tens of thousands of dollars. In combination, the
Defendant asserts, these factors weigh in favor of a
protective order. The Plaintiff seeks the HSSN reports as
probative of what the Defendant was communicating to
third-parties about her loan. In this vein, the reports
clearly fall within the scope of discovery. Nor does
Plaintiff accept or agree that the reports are duplicative of
discovery already produced. Notwithstanding, the Court
remains concerned that the resources expended to date and to
be expended in the future are becoming increasingly
disproportionate to the amount in controversy.
the motion for protective order is GRANTED in part and DENIED
in part. The Plaintiff may identify a single
three-month period within the target
nine-month period on or before July 22, 2019. The Defendant
shall produce the HSSN reports for this time period on or
before August 12, 2019. If the Plaintiff identifies
information or communications in the HSSN reports not
previously disclosed in discovery, or if the HSSN reports are
significantly probative of the Plaintiff's claims, the
Court shall entertain a request to broaden this discovery
order upon a showing of same.