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Michael Drouin et al. v. American Home Mortgage Servicing

February 5, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph N. Laplante United States District Judge


Despite this court's best efforts, the parties in this case are apparently incapable of observing this court's order of July 26, 2012, which set forth the court's standard discovery dispute resolution procedure. Plaintiffs Michael and Kathleen Drouin, in violation of that order, have filed a motion to compel discovery from defendants Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and Option One Mortgage Corporation, asserting that those defendants have refused to answer, or provide complete answers to, certain of the Drouins' interrogatories. The Drouins' motion comes hard on the heels of Wells Fargo's own discovery motion, which was also filed in violation of the July 26, 2012 order---as the court specifically noted in its order on that motion (albeit too subtly for counsel to notice, it would seem). See Order of Jan. 23, 2013.

Notwithstanding plaintiffs' failure to comply with that order, the court is compelled to address their motion (as it did Wells Fargo's) in light of the recent close of discovery and defendants' recently-filed motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the court orders Option One, but not Wells Fargo, to provide further discovery responses. The court also assesses sanctions for Option One's noncompliance with an earlier order of this court.

I. Wells Fargo's interrogatory responses

Plaintiffs' motion to compel further interrogatory responses from Wells Fargo comes too late. This court held a conference call on January 22, 2013---nearly two weeks after the close of discovery on January 11--to address Wells Fargo's discovery motion. Prior to that call, the parties, including plaintiffs, submitted written statements setting forth unresolved issues they wished to bring to the court's attention. Though plaintiffs' statement was particularly lengthy, it did not suggest that Wells Fargo's interrogatory responses were incomplete or objectionable, although Wells Fargo had provided those responses to plaintiffs several days beforehand. To be sure, plaintiffs' statement noted that Wells Fargo's responses were "laden with objections." But it did not seek any relief on that basis.

On the conference call, the court explicitly asked the parties if there were any further issues that would require the court's intervention. That would have been a particularly opportune time for plaintiffs to raise the issues now presented in their motion, given that a good deal of the call was devoted to similar issues. Provided with this opportunity, however, plaintiffs again remained silent on the issue of Wells Fargo's interrogatory responses.

The court cannot interpret plaintiffs' previous silence on this issue, coming well after the close of discovery in this case, as anything but an acceptance of Wells Fargo's responses as sufficient. Nor can the court interpret plaintiffs' belated attempt to inject new discovery issues into this case as anything but an attempt to further delay the resolution of this action. Wells Fargo will not be ordered to provide further responses to plaintiffs' interrogatories (though the court encourages Wells Fargo to attempt to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution with plaintiffs).

If plaintiffs desire responses to the questions posed in their interrogatories, they may naturally pose those questions to Wells Fargo's Rule 30(b)(6) deposition designee if they wish. To the extent the questions are not covered by any of the designated deposition topics, however, Wells Fargo's designee need only answer them to the best of his or her individual knowledge.

II. Option One's interrogatory responses

Insofar as plaintiffs' motion seeks to compel further discovery responses from Option One, it stands on considerably firmer ground. Plaintiffs could not have raised concerns about Option One's interrogatory responses on the January 22 conference call because Option One did not provide those responses until January 25 (conduct which, as discussed in the following section, warrants sanctions). And substantively speaking, plaintiffs' motion has some merit. Among other things, as plaintiffs note, in its responses Option One has apparently conflated "Option One Mortgage Corporation" with "Option One Mortgage Acceptance Corporation" (or "OOMAC"), and has not provided independent responses to interrogatories that inquire about the latter entity. In light of this and other apparent deficiencies in Option One's responses, and after careful consideration of the arguments set forth in plaintiffs' motion, the court rules as follows:

* Option One need not provide further responses to Kathleen Drouin's interrogatories 1-4 and 8-13 or Michael Drouin's interrogatories 1-9, 11-14, and 16-20. Taking into account Option One's objections, which the court finds, for the most part, well-founded, Option One appears to have provided sufficient responses to these interrogatories.

* Option One shall provide further responses to Kathleen Drouin's interrogatories 5-7 on or before February 12, 2013. As just noted, Option One's responses to those interrogatories apparently conflate Option One Mortgage Corporation with OOMAC.

* Option One shall also provide further responses to Michael Drouin's interrogatories 10 and 15 on or before February 12, 2013. When responding to interrogatory 10, Option One need not provide any of the information requested after the clause "if still applicable," for the reasons stated in Option One's objection to that interrogatory. When responding to interrogatory 15, Option One need not provide any of the information requested after ...

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