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Davis v. Jacob S. Ciborowski Family Trust

United States District Court, First Circuit

June 28, 2013

Dean Davis, et. al.
v.
Jacob S. Ciborowski Family Trust, et. al. Opinion 2013 DNH 089

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Paul Barbadoro United States District Judge

This case involves claims by plaintiffs that defendants – Jacob S. Ciborowski Family Trust, which owns Phenix Hall in downtown Concord, and Bagel Works, a café that leases space within Phenix Hall – violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) when they renovated Phenix Hall without making the entrance accessible to disabled persons. Magistrate Judge Landya McCafferty awarded plaintiffs attorney’s fees they incurred while preparing and filing motions to compel defendants to provide interrogatory answers and objections to defendants’ motions for protective orders. Presently before me is defendants’ motion to reconsider the Magistrate Judge’s decision (Doc. No. 110). Because I conclude that the decision is not clearly erroneous, I deny defendants’ motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint on September 20, 2011. Doc. No. 3. Bagel Works answered on November 21, 2011, and the Trust answered on November 23, 2011. Doc. Nos. 13, 15. The parties jointly filed a discovery plan on January 3, 2012. Doc. No. 27.

On February 2, 2012, plaintiffs served interrogatories and requests for production on the Trust.[1] Doc. No. 33-1 at 1. On February 10, 2012, they served interrogatories and requests for production on Bagel Works. Doc. No. 34 at 2. On March 19, Bagel Works provided unsigned and incomplete responses to plaintiffs’ discovery requests. Id. On March 30, the Trust provided unsigned and incomplete responses to plaintiffs’ discovery requests, and each defendant provided plaintiffs with a draft motion for a protective order. Doc. Nos. 33-1 at 2, 34-1 at 2. On April 20, plaintiffs sent a follow-up letter to the Trust in which they reasserted their requests for answers to the interrogatories and production of certain documents. Doc. No. 33-1 at 2, 7. Plaintiffs sent a similar follow-up letter to Bagel Works on April 23. Doc. No. 34 at 2. On June 6, plaintiffs again sent letters to the defendants explaining the legal basis of their discovery requests. Doc. Nos. 33-2, 34-2. A week later, having still not received a substantive response from the defendants, plaintiffs filed motions to compel the Trust and Bagel Works to answer the interrogatories and produce related documents. Doc Nos. 33, 34.

A. Contested Discovery Requests

Plaintiffs’ motion to compel the Trust to produce discovery covered Interrogatories 26, 28, 29, 30, and 31. Through these interrogatories, plaintiffs sought two categories of information: (1) information about the Trust’s communications with the City of Concord regarding use of the city sidewalk to build a handicapped accessible entrance to Phenix Hall, and (2) financial information.

The motion to compel Bagel Works to produce discovery covered Interrogatories 21, 22, 23, and 24 – which are identical to the four financial interrogatories (28, 29, 30, and 31) plaintiffs served on the Trust – and Interrogatories 8, 10, 20, and 30. The latter four interrogatories requested information about Bagel Works’ communications with the Trust and the City of Concord regarding access to Phenix Hall and also requested information relating to a 1992 letter the Disability Rights Center apparently sent to Bagel Works. Doc. No. 34-2 at 6-8, 13.

In each motion, plaintiffs provided substantive arguments justifying their discovery requests and explaining the relevance of the subject interrogatories to claims or defenses the parties raised in the pleadings. Plaintiffs also noted in each motion that, even assuming the defendants had a valid basis for objecting to the discovery, defendants had waived those objections because their responses were untimely. Doc. Nos. 33-1 at 6, 8; 34-1 at 2 6, 10.

Each defendant filed an objection to the motion to compel served on it, addressing the substantive arguments they believed justified their refusal to provide the discovery. Doc. Nos. 35, 37. Neither defendant addressed the fact that its responses were untimely. Plaintiffs filed replies to the objections, and defendants subsequently filed surreplies. Doc. Nos. 46, 47, 66, 70.

In combination with their objections to plaintiffs’ motions to compel, each defendant moved for a protective order. Doc. No. 35, 37. Defendants later re-filed their motions for protective orders as independent documents, Doc. Nos. 49, 50, in accordance with Magistrate Judge McCafferty’s instructions and local rules. Doc. No. 43.

The Trust’s motion for a protective order covered Interrogatories 10, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31. Doc. No. 50-1 at 2-3. Interrogatories 15-17 requested information about properties the Trust owns other than Phenix Hall. Id. at 6-7. Interrogatories 10, 20, and 28-31 were covered by the motion to compel and are described above. Interrogatory 19 asked the Trust for information about resources it had consulted to determine Phenix Halls’ historical significance. Doc. No. 50-2 at 23. Interrogatory 27 asked the Trust whether it had asked the City of Concord for permission to build a ramp in front of Phenix Hall. Id. at 31. Bagel Works’ motion for a protective order covered Interrogatories 21-24, which relate to Bagel Works’ finances. Doc. No. 49-1 at 1-2.

B. Orders on the Motions to Compel and for a Protective ...


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