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Main Street America Assurance Co. v. Savalle

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 16, 2019




         Pending before the Court is a motion by defendant Vincent Savalle (“Savalle”) seeking to compel further responses to his written discovery requests directed to plaintiff Main Street America Assurance Company (“Main Street”). [Doc. #39]. Main Street has filed an objection to Savalle's motion. [Doc. #50]. For the reasons articulated below, and to the extent Savalle's motion may be construed as seeking to compel the production of a privilege log, the Court GRANTS, in part, Savalle's Motion to Compel. [Doc. #39].

         A. Background

         The Court presumes general familiarity with the background of this matter. However, the Court will briefly address the procedural and factual background as relevant to the pending motion to compel.

         Main Street brings this action seeking a declaration of its rights under a “Businessowners Policy” issued to Savalle. See generally Doc. #19, Amended Complaint. Specifically, Main Street seeks a declaration that it is not obligated to defend or pay the claims that Lee Winakor (“Winakor”), Savalle's co-defendant here, brought against Savalle in state court. See generally Id. Winakor obtained a judgment in the state court against defendant Savalle as a result of Savalle's alleged faulty workmanship at Winakor's property. See Id. at ¶5, ¶¶12-16. That judgment is currently being appealed. See Doc. #27 at 6.

         Main Street asserts that Savalle failed to provide notice of Winakor's lawsuit, and that the claims asserted against Savalle by Winakor in the underlying state court litigation are not covered by the policy at issue. See Id. at ¶¶17-19, ¶¶23-26, ¶¶31-35, ¶¶40-45. Savalle has filed a counterclaim against Main Street alleging, inter alia, that his office manager telephoned plaintiff's agent, Marcus Insurance, “to advise it of the Winakor lawsuit ... on July 22, 2015, at the defendant Savalle's direction[.]” Doc. #20 at 5. As stated in the parties' Rule 26(f) report, Savalle contends that Main Street “breached its duty to defend him, to his substantial cost, and that [Main Street's] breach bars it from the protection of the terms of the policy[.]” Doc. #25 at 2-3.

         On August 12, 2019, Savalle filed the motion to compel now at issue, asserting that Main Street had failed “to answer five of the seven interrogatories the named defendant propounded to it on June 19, 2019, and likewise failed to respond to all but one or two of his six requests for production[.]” Doc. #39 at 1. On August 13, 2019, Judge Janet C. Hall referred Savalle's motion to compel to the undersigned. [Doc. #40].

         On that same date, the Court ordered that counsel for Main Street and Savalle engage in a follow-up meet-and-confer conference, either by telephone or in person. See Doc. #41. The Court further ordered that: (1) Main Street and Savalle file a joint status report by August 28, 2019, detailing which of Savalle's discovery requests had been resolved by agreement, and which remained outstanding for the Court's adjudication; and (2) Main Street file a response to Savalle's motion by August 30, 2019. See Id. The Court scheduled a telephonic discovery conference for September 6, 2019, to address any issues that had not been resolved by agreement of the parties. See id.; see also Doc. #44.

         On August 28, 2019, Main Street and Savalle timely filed their joint status report. [Doc. #46]. Main Street and Savalle reported that they had successfully resolved the disputes surrounding Interrogatories 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7, as well as Request for Production 11. See Id. at 1. Main Street and Savalle were unable to reach an agreement with respect to Interrogatory 5, and Requests for Production 12 and 13. See id.

         On August 28, 2019, Main Street filed a motion to continue the September 6, 2019, telephonic status conference, due to the unavailability of its counsel. [Doc. #45]. In light of the representation that Main Street's counsel was unavailable for the status conference, and where only three discovery requests remained for the Court's adjudication, the Court canceled the September 6, 2019, telephonic discovery conference and indicated that it would rule on the motion to compel once Main Street responded to the motion. See Doc. #47. Main Street timely filed its objection to the motion to compel on August 30, 2019. [Doc. #50].

         B. Applicable Law

         Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged 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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “[T]he burden of demonstrating relevance remains on the party seeking discovery.” Bagley v. Yale Univ., 315 F.R.D. 131, 144 (D. Conn. 2016) (citation omitted), as amended (June 15, 2016); Republic of Turkey v. Christie's, Inc.,326 F.R.D. 394, 400 (S.D.N.Y. 2018) (same). Once the party seeking discovery has demonstrated relevance, the burden then shifts to “[t]he party resisting discovery ... [to] show[] why discovery should ...

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