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Liguria Foods, Inc. v. Griffith Laboratories, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

March 13, 2017

LIGURIA FOODS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GRIFFITH LABORATORIES, INC., Defendant. Suspect Objections To Discovery Requests Objection Response Rule(s) Possibly Violated

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING THE COURT'S ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY COUNSEL FOR BOTH PARTIES SHOULD NOT BE SANCTIONED FOR DISCOVERY ABUSES

          MARK W. BENNETT U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 6

         A. Factual Background ............................................................... 6

         1. The nature of the litigation ............................................... 6

         2. Potentially obstructionist discovery responses ......................... 7

         B. Procedural Background ......................................................... 17

         1. Pretrial matters ........................................................... 17

         2. The Show Cause Order .................................................. 17

         C. Responses Of The Parties To The Order To Show Cause ................ 18

         1. Responses in briefs ....................................................... 18

         2. Responses at the evidentiary hearing ................................. 19

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS ...................................................................... 21

         A. Proper Discovery Responses .................................................... 22

         B. Improper discovery responses .................................................. 30

         C. Sanctions ........................................................................... 34

         III. CONCLUSION ............................................................................ 40

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”
-Otto von Bismarck

         This litigation is about who is responsible for tons and millions of dollars' worth of sausage, of the peperoni variety, some of which turned rancid. It's also about lawyers who were not concerned about how the federal discovery rules were made, but how and why they flaunted them. This ruling involves one of the least favorite tasks of federal trial and appellate judges-determining whether counsel and/or the parties should be sanctioned for discovery abuses. This case squarely presents the issue of why excellent, thoughtful, highly professional, and exceptionally civil and courteous lawyers are addicted to “boilerplate” discovery objections.[1] More importantly, why does this widespread addiction continue to plague the litigation industry when counsel were unable to cite a single reported or non-reported judicial decision or rule of civil procedure from any jurisdiction in the United States, state or federal, that authorizes, condones, or approves of this practice? What should judges and lawyers do to substantially reduce or, more hopefully and optimistically, eliminate this menacing scourge on the legal profession? Perhaps surprisingly to some, I place more blame for the addiction, and more promise for a cure, on the judiciary than on the bar.[2] What follows is my ruling after a hearing on March 7, 2017, pursuant to my January 27, 2017, Order To Show Cause Why Counsel For Both Parties Should Not Be Sanctioned For Discovery Abuses And Directions For Further Briefing, Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that the Rules “should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.” Nevertheless, modern “litigation” practice all too often disregards that admonition and seems to favor wars of discovery attrition. “[A]lthough the rule is ‘more aspirational than descriptive, '” it can, nevertheless, inform the courts' authority to sanction discovery misconduct.[3]Furthermore, the specific Rules devoted to discovery attempt to facilitate the disclosure of relevant information and to avoid conflicts by setting out the when, what, and how of discovery, as well as how to raise objections, in ways that should lead to the narrowing of issues and the resolution of disputes without the involvement of the court. Even so, discovery all too often becomes a needlessly time-consuming, and often needlessly expensive, game of obstruction and non-disclosure. Indeed, obstructionist discovery practice is a firmly entrenched “culture” in some parts of the country, notwithstanding that it involves practices that are contrary to the rulings of every federal and state court to address them. As I remarked at an earlier hearing in this matter, “So what is it going to take to get . . . law firms to change and practice according to the rules and the cases interpreting the rules? What's it going to take?”[4] While one of the attorneys gave the hopeful answer that admonitions from the courts had made clear what practices are unacceptable, it is clear to me that admonitions from the courts have not been enough to prevent such conduct and that, perhaps, only sanctions will stop this nonsense. I know that I am not alone in my goal of eliminating “boilerplate” responses and other discovery abuses, because the goal is a worthy one.[5] As one commentator observed:

Though boilerplate objections are relatively common in modern civil litigation, the legal community can take steps to curb their use. Attorneys and judges alike must recognize the costs these objections impose on the efficient administration of justice and on the legal profession. Only with such an understanding, and an attendant willingness to effectively penalize those who issue boilerplate objections, can their use be reduced. Hopefully, with an increased focus on preventing abusive discovery practices, including boilerplate objections, the legal profession can move toward fairer, more effective discovery practices.[6]

         Thus, while I find the task distasteful, I embark on my consideration of whether the conduct of the parties in this case warrants sanctions for discovery abuses.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Factual Background

         1. The nature of the litigation

         Plaintiff Liguria Foods, Inc., (Liguria) is a pepperoni and dried sausage manufacturer with its principal place of business in Humboldt, Iowa. Liguria's most popular product is a finished pepperoni product called “Liguria Pepperoni, ” although Liguria makes other kinds of pepperoni, as well. Defendant Griffith Laboratories, Inc., (Griffith) is a manufacturer of food seasonings and spice blends with its principal place of business in Alsip, Illinois. Beginning in approximately 1994, Griffith sold mixes of custom spices to Liguria or its predecessor company, Humboldt Sausage. In late 2012 and early 2013, Liguria received complaints from customers that the Liguria Pepperoni, which contains Griffith's Optimized Pepperoni Seasoning, was prematurely turning green and grey, within 140 to 160 days after production, even though Liguria Pepperoni was supposed to have a shelf life of 270 days from slicing. After this problem arose, Liguria lost several of its longstanding customers.

         Eventually, Liguria concluded that Griffith's Optimized Pepperoni Seasoning contributed to the premature spoliation of its Liguria Pepperoni. On July 3, 2014, Liguria filed a Complaint asserting claims for breach of implied warranty of fitness for a purpose and breach of implied warranty of merchantability. Griffith filed an Answer denying the substance of Liguria's claims. Throughout this litigation, Griffith has contended, inter alia, that either underlying problems in Liguria's raw meat supply or Liguria's “rework”[7]policies were far more likely to be responsible for Liguria's rancidity problems than Griffith's spices.

         2. Potentially obstructionist discovery responses

         In my review of another discovery dispute between the parties, raised in Griffith's January 12, 2017, Emergency Motion To Address Possible Discovery Abuses, the issue now before me, which involves potentially obstructionist discovery responses by both parties, came to my attention. In preparing for a hearing on January 23, 2017, on Griffith's Motion, I reviewed some of Liguria's written responses to Griffith's discovery requests attached to the Motion. I noted discovery responses that I suspected or believed were abusive and/or not in compliance with the applicable rules, but mere “boilerplate” objections. At the hearing on January 23, 2017, after questioning Griffith's lead counsel and hearing his candid responses, I indicated my belief that it was likely that Griffith's written responses to Liguria's discovery requests were also abusive “boilerplate” responses. Consequently, I directed the parties to file, under seal, all their written responses to each other's discovery requests by the following day. I also notified counsel of my intention to impose sanctions on every attorney who signed the discovery responses, if I determined that the responses were, indeed, improper or abusive. The parties filed their written responses to discovery requests, as directed, the following day. After reviewing those discovery responses, I entered an order advising the parties that I suspected that the discovery responses listed in the following table were improper:

Suspect Objections To Discovery Requests
Objection
Response
Rule(s) Possibly Violated

PL: “to the extent they seek to impose obligations on it beyond those imposed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ** or any other applicable rules or laws”

DF: “to the extent that it purports to impose obligations . . . beyond those required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Gen. Obj. 1 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Gen. Obj. 1

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Gen. Obj. 3 Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Gen. Obj. 3 Df's Ans. To Pl's 4th Set (#118, Tab F), Gen. Obj. 3 Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Gen. Obj. 3 Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Gen. Obj. 3

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “to the extent they call for documents protected by the attorney-client privilege, the work product rule, or any other applicable privilege”

DF: “to the extent they seek information that is protected from discovery under the attorney-client privilege, the attorney work-product doctrine or is otherwise privileged or protected from disclosure”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Gen. Obj. 4 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Gen. Obj. 4

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Gen. Obj. 1 Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Gen. Obj. 1 Df's Ans. To Pl's 4th Set (#118, Tab F), Gen. Obj. 1 Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Gen. Obj. 1 Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Gen. Obj. 1

Rule 26(b)(5)

PL: “to the extent they request the production of documents that are not relevant, are not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence or are not within their possession, custody and control”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Gen. Obj. 5 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Gen. Obj. 5

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “insofar as they seek information that is confidential or proprietary”

DF: “to the extent they seek the disclosure of trade secrets, or confidential or proprietary information without the entry of an appropriate protective order”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Gen. Obj. 6 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Gen. Obj. 6

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Gen. Obj. 6 Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Gen. Obj. 6 Df's Ans. To Pl's 4th Set (#118, Tab F), Gen. Obj. 7 Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Gen. Obj. 6 Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Gen. Obj. 6

Rule 26(b)(5)

PL: “to the time period defined in the Document Requests and Interrogatories as overbroad and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”

DF: Similar objection concerning “burdensomeness, ” adding, “[The request] is not limited to a reasonable time frame [and so is] overly broad and unduly burdensome. Plaintiff purports to seek information for all periods from January 1, 2009 to the present.”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Gen. Obj. 7 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Gen. Obj. 7

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Gen. Obj. 5 Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Gen. Obj. 5 Df's Ans. To Pl's 4th Set (#118, Tab F), Gen. Obj. 5 Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Gen. Obj. 5 Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Gen. Obj. 5

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

DF: “the defined term ‘Liguria Related Documents' as overly broad, unduly burdensome and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” and “to the extent it seeks to impose an obligation to retain every document related in any way to Liguria”

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Gen. Obj. 7

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “subject to [and without waiving] its [general] objections”

DF: “Subject to and without waiving its general and specific objections”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 1, 5-7, 10(1), 11, 12, 14, 15, 18-20

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Doc. Reqs. 1-7, 12-15, 19, 21-26

Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Interrogs. 21, 22, 25 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Doc. Reqs. 27-29, 31-33

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Doc. Reqs.

1-20, 22, 26

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Interrogs.

1-6

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Doc. Reqs.

1-8

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Interrogs. 1-4

Df's Ans. To Pl's 4th Set (#118, Tab F), Interrogs. 1, 2

Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Gen. Obj. 1, 2, 4-9

Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Doc. Reqs. 1

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “overbroad, unduly burdensome”

DF: frequently stated, “and depending on the meaning [of an allegedly vague term] may also be overly broad, [and] unduly burdensome, ” but sometimes without any limitation

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 2, 5-7, 10(2), 12, 18-20

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Doc. Reqs. 1, 7, [8] 12, 14, 16, 18, 20

Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Interrogs. 21-23, 25 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Doc. Reqs. 27-33

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Doc. Reqs.

4, 6-22

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Interrogs.

1, 2, 4-6

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Doc. Reqs.

1-8

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Interrogs. 5, 6

Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Doc. Reqs. 1

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”

DF: frequently stated, “and depending on the meaning [of an allegedly vague term] may also be . . . not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, ” but sometimes without any limitation

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 2, 12, 19, 20

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Doc. Reqs. 1, 7, 14, 16, 18, 20

Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Interrogs. 21-23, [9] 25 Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Doc. Reqs. 27-33

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Doc. Reqs.

4, 6-22

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Interrogs.

1, 2, 4-6

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Doc. Reqs.

1-8

Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Interrogs. 5, 6

Df's Ans. To Pl's 3rd Set (#118, Tab H), Doc. Reqs. 1

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “as the term(s) [X and Y] are not

defined”

PL: (Similar) “[to a term or terms] as

vague and ambiguous, insofar as it

presupposes that Griffith provided

[information about its own procedures to

Liguria for its review]

DF: “to the [undefined] term [Z] as

vague and ambiguous [or confusing]”[10]

(sometimes adding that the term in question “is not a term used by or known to Griffith”)

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 2 Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 11

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Doc. Reqs.

3, 5, 9-13, 15-17, 19, 20, 25

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Interrogs. 4 Df's Ans. To Pl's 4th Set (#118, Tab F), Interrogs. 1, 2

Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Interrogs. 2, 4-9

Rules

33(b)(4),

34(b)(2)(B)

PL: “as discovery remains ongoing and Griffith [has failed to respond to Liguria's discovery requests]”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 3, 4

Rule 26(d)

PL: “as discovery remains ongoing and Liguria reserves the right to [supplement]”

DF: “as premature. Discovery in this matter has only recently commenced and Griffith's investigation is continuing.”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 9, 10(1)

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Doc. Reqs.

22-24

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Interrogs.

1, 2, 4, 6

Rule 26(d)

PL: “as calling for the disclosure of information subject to the attorney-client privilege and/or work product immunity doctrine”

DF: “seeks documents protected by the attorney-client privilege and/or the attorney work product doctrine”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Interrogs. 14, 15 Pl's Ans. To Df's 1st Set (#116), Doc. Reqs. 5, 6, 17

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Doc. Reqs.

3-5, 10-12

Df's Ans. To Pl's 1st Set (#118, Tab A), Interrogs. 3 Df's Ans. To Pl's 2nd Set (#118, Tab B), Interrogs. 1-4

Df's Ans. To Pl's 5th Set (#118, Tab G), Interrogs. 1

Rule 26(b)(5)

PL: “requests the production of confidential and proprietary information of non-parties”

Pl's Ans. To Df's 2nd Set (#117), Interrogs. 21

Rule 26(b)(5)

         Liguria's responses to Griffith's interrogatories and requests for production of documents were signed by local counsel on behalf of Liguria's lead attorneys, who have their offices in Chicago, Illinois. Griffith's pertinent discovery responses were signed by its lead attorney, who also has offices in Chicago, Illinois. At the January 23, 2017, hearing, I ascertained that local counsel for both parties had acted essentially as “drop boxes” for filings, but did not have any active role in formulating the discovery responses in question.

         B. Procedural Background

         1. Pretrial matters

         The relevant pretrial matters can be summarized quite briefly. On July 3, 2014, Liguria filed a Complaint asserting claims for breach of implied warranty of fitness for a purpose and breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and, on August 29, 2014, Griffith filed an Answer denying the substance of Liguria's claims. The trial has been reset to begin on May 1, 2017.

         2. The Show Cause Order

         On January 27, 2017, I entered an Order To Show Cause Why Counsel For Both Parties Should Not Be Sanctioned For Discovery Abuses And Directions For Further Briefing. In the Order To Show Cause, I directed that every attorney for the parties who signed a response to interrogatories or a response to a request for documents in this case, with the exception of local counsel, appear and show cause, at a hearing previously scheduled for March 7, 2017, why he should not be sanctioned for discovery abuses.[11] I also provided the table of the discovery responses, included above, showing the responses that I suspected were improper. In Section II of that order, I then directed the parties to submit, not later than February 28, 2017, briefs in response to the Show Cause part of the Order addressing the following matters:

1. Whether each of the discovery responses by that party identified in the table . . . is or is not a violation of the rule cited or otherwise an abuse of discovery, and
2. If any responses identified in the table . . . are discovery abuses, the appropriate sanction or combination of sanctions that is appropriate for an offending attorney.

         On February 28, 2017, the parties filed those briefs, as directed. Those briefs were Liguria's Brief In Response To Section II Of The Order To Show Cause Of January 27, 2017, and Griffith's Response To Order To Show Cause.

         C. Responses Of The Parties To The Order To Show Cause

         1. Responses in briefs

         In its brief in response to the Order To Show Cause, Liguria states that, based upon its review of my Order To Show Cause, the applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and its discovery responses, it recognizes that many of its objections are not stated with specificity. Liguria asserts, nevertheless, that it has not interposed any objection “for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation, ” pursuant to Rule 26(g)(1)(B)(ii). Liguria also points out that some of its objections did interpose explanations to justify their basis, such as the ones that I identified, supra, in notes 8 and 9. In addition, Liguria argues that it did so in its responses to Interrogatories Nos. 2 and 18 and Request For Production No. 1.

         In its brief in response to the Order To Show Cause, Griffith, like Liguria, states that its written responses to Liguria's discovery requests were not intended for any improper purposes and that the parties have, in fact, conducted this litigation in a cooperative and professional manner. Griffith also contends that a magistrate judge has already reviewed various of Griffith's responses and found no fault with them. Griffith contends that both parties relied on standard “boilerplate” language to assure that they were not waiving their rights while they met and conferred about the scope of privileges, pertinent time periods, and myriad other issues in this complex case. Indeed, Griffith contends that the eleven statements in its discovery responses that I identified in my Order To Show Cause do not constitute discovery abuses. This is so, Griffith argues, because the responses were intended to preserve any objection, but not for harassment or delay, and they did not require any additional work or expense by Liguria. Griffith contends that certain of its responses were intended to narrow the privilege issues or protect information until an appropriate protective order was entered, or were intended to narrow the relevant time frame, where the parties have had a relationship since at least 1995, but the problems at the center of the litigation arose only in late 2012. Counsel for Griffith does acknowledge that, in light of my concerns expressed at the January 23, 2017, hearing and in the Order To Show Cause, four of its responses were not helpful nor well-constructed, but nevertheless were not in bad faith or for any improper purpose, and another response could have been “more artful” to indicate an intent to supplement that response later.

         2. Responses at the evidentiary hearing

         The first part of the hearing on March 7, 2017, was devoted to the issues raised in my Show Cause Order. Counsel for both parties candidly admitted that there were no published decisions that allowed or condoned the sort of “boilerplate” objections that I had pointed out in the Show Cause Order. Counsel for both parties also represented that, notwithstanding the “boilerplate” objections, they had conferred professionally and cordially and had been able to resolve most discovery issues by consultation, with what I agree was surprisingly little need for intervention by the court in such a complicated case involving such voluminous discovery.

         As to the question of why counsel for both sides had resorted to “boilerplate” objections, counsel admitted that it had a lot to do with the way they were trained, the kinds of responses that they had received from opposing parties, and the “culture” that routinely involved the use of such “standardized” responses. Indeed, one of the attorneys indicated that some clients-although not the clients in this case-expect such responses to be made on their behalf. I believe that one of the attorneys hit the nail squarely on the head when he asserted that such responses arise, at least in part, out of “lawyer paranoia” not to waive inadvertently any objections that might protect the parties they represent. Even so, counsel for both parties admitted that they now understood that such “boilerplate” objections do not, in fact, preserve any objections. Counsel also agreed that part of the problem was a fear of “unilateral disarmament.” This is where neither party's attorneys wanted to eschew the standard, but impermissible, “boilerplate” practices that they had all come to use because they knew that the other side would engage in “boilerplate” objections. Thus, many lawyers have become fearful to comply with federal discovery rules because their experience teaches them that the other side would abuse the rules. Complying with the discovery rules might place them at a competitive disadvantage.

         Returning to the matter of the conduct of counsel in this case, counsel for both parties reiterated that their relationship has been professional and effective in narrowing the scope of discovery requests. They represented that the responses with which I had taken issue, and which they admitted were improper under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, were taken by counsel in this case as signals of a need or desire to narrow discovery requests, and a desire for discussion, rather than as refusals to provide responses or indications of any intent to impede or improperly delay discovery. Thus, while they admitted that both sides had made improper discovery responses, they suggested that this was a poor case in which to impose sanctions, because there had been no bad faith and no real detriment or impediment to discovery.

         Furthermore, counsel for both parties sincerely pledged not to engage in such improper discovery practices in the future and to work within their firms to change the way their firms do things. They also both suggested that they would be willing to put together courses or continuing legal education programs for lawyers or law students about the applicable discovery rules and proper and improper discovery objections. They also raised legitimate concerns that sanctions could impede their ability to obtain pro hac vice admission in other jurisdictions, which they suggested was a negative consequence out of proportion to their conduct in this case, which had involved an effective working relationship between opposing counsel despite whopping defiance of discovery rules and court decisions.

         Formal discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is one of the most abused and obfuscated aspects of our litigation practice.[12]

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         Although it was the second issue to arise, I find it appropriate to rule, first, on the Order To Show Cause, relating to what I believed were obstructionist discovery responses by both parties. Having considered the parties' arguments, I now confirm that belief as to all or nearly all the responses that I identified. The question of whether or not to impose sanctions, in light of such improper responses, is a much more difficult issue, however, because I find that this case involved courteous ...


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