United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ANDREA T. ANNESE, Plaintiff,
U.S. XPRESS, INC. and GLENN ANDERS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J.CAUTHRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Order
Compelling Discovery (Dkt. No. 134). Defendant U.S. Xpress,
Inc. filed a Response (Dkt. No. 145) and Plaintiff has filed
a reply (Dkt. No. 150). The motion is now at issue.
Andrea T. Annese alleges that on March 9, 2016, Defendant
Glenn Anders negligently drove a tractor-trailer owned by
Defendant U.S. Xpress (“Xpress”) and caused an
accident, resulting in damages to her. Plaintiff further
alleges that Xpress (1) negligently hired, trained,
supervised, and retained Defendant Anders and (2) negligently
entrusted him to drive its vehicles. The parties have been
engaged in discovery, and the dispute here is whether Xpress
must comply with one of Plaintiff's discovery requests:
“Please produce the driver qualification, personnel,
accident, disciplinary and safety file of every U.S. Xpress
driver that had two or more preventable motor vehicle
determinations from March 1, 2013 until March 9, 2016.”
(Pl.'s Mot., Dkt. No. 134-1, p. 1.) Xpress objects to the
relevance of this request, and warns that compliance will be
unduly burdensome. Plaintiff maintains that this request is
relevant to her negligent hiring claim, and disputes the
weight of any burden Xpress might endure.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally permit the
discovery of any nonprivileged matter that is relevant-as
long as the discovery sought is “proportional to the
needs of the case . . . .” See Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). But Rule 26 does not authorize unlimited discovery.
See Murphy v. Deloitte & Touche Grp. Ins. Plan,
619 F.3d 1151, 1163 (10th Cir. 2010). Indeed, a court
“may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party
or person [from whom discovery is sought] from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense.'” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1).
mere fact that compliance with an inspection order will cause
great labor and expense or even considerable hardship and
possibility of injury to the business of the party from whom
discovery is sought” does not-without more-amount to an
undue burden. Snowden By and Through Victor v. Connaught
Labs., Inc., 137 F.R.D. 325, 332-333 (D. Kan. 1991)
(quoting C. Wright and A. Miller, 8 Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2214, p. 647-48 (1970)).
Rather, “Rule 26(c) speaks of ‘undue burden or
expense' and discovery should be allowed unless the
hardship is unreasonable in the light of the benefits to be
secured from the discovery.” Snowden, 137
F.R.D. at 333 (quoting C. Wright and A. Miller, 8
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2214, p.
647-48 (1970)). In sum, any motion to compel inevitably
requires a court to examine the desired discovery's
relevancy in light of any burden that may be placed on a
non-movant. See Cohlmia v. Ardent Health Servs.,
LLC, No. 05-CV-384-GKF-PJC, 2008 WL 4925764 at *1 (N.D.
Okla. Nov. 14, 2008) (“It is well-established that
discovery under the Federal Rules is limited only by
relevance and burdensomeness.”).
maintains that she has established the relevancy of her
discovery request. In support, she relies on her need to
gather evidence to support her negligent hiring, training,
and retention claim:
U.S. Xpress retains drivers that would not qualify under
their safety policy regarding hiring guidelines. Plaintiff
must receive documentation of “same or similar
circumstances” so that she may investigate the claim
that there is a systematic problem within U.S. Xpress and its
drivers. This information will demonstrate and confirm that
Defendant has a pattern and practice of allowing drivers with
multiple driving violations and preventable actions to remain
on the road which endangered and caused injuries to
(Pl.'s Mot., Dkt. No. 134, p. 4.)
short, Plaintiff seeks to establish that there is a
“systemic problem” with Xpress's hiring
practices-particularly the hiring of its drivers. Xpress,
however, disputes the relevance of Plaintiff's request;
it points out that Plaintiff's negligent hiring claim
targets Xpress's hiring of Defendant Anders, not its
hiring practices in general. (Def.'s Resp. Dkt. No. 145,
p. 8.) Xpress further objects to the requests as unduly
burdensome. Specifically, Xpress asserts that compliance with
the requests could require 12, 600 hours of work- possibly
costing Xpress over $1.5 million. (Def.'s Resp. Dkt. No.
145, p. 12-13.) Plaintiff disputes these figures, and,
notably, has offered to reduce the scope of her request.
(Pl.'s Mot., Dkt. No. 134, p. 4.)
Court finds that Plaintiff's requests are relevant and
capable of leading to discoverable evidence. The Court also
finds, however, that it is appropriate to limit the scope of
the request to ease the burden on Xpress. As a result, the
Court finds that Xpress must produce to Plaintiff the driver
qualification, personnel, accident, disciplinary, and safety
file of every U.S. Xpress ...