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Hansen v. Vista Outdoor Inc.

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

April 17, 2017

RONALD W. HANSEN and PAIGE R. HANSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
VISTA OUTDOORS INC., VISTA OUTDOOR SALES LLC, SAVAGE ARMS CO., and SAVAGE ARMS INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          C. J. WILLIAMS CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to plaintiffs' Motion to Compel filed timely on March 28, 2017. (Doc. 16). Plaintiffs requested a telephonic oral argument on the motion. Defendants filed a timely resistance on April 10, 2017. (Doc. 22). On April 12, 2017, the Court heard the parties' arguments on the motion. (Doc. 23).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff, Ronald Hansen, alleges that on or about December 6, 2014, he was injured when a 10ML-II muzzle-loading rifle manufactured by Savage exploded. Plaintiffs (Mr. Hansen and his wife) filed this suit in the Iowa District Court In and For Franklin County. (Doc. 8). Defendants timely removed this suit to federal court under diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 2). Plaintiffs' petition at law reads as follows: “Count I (Facts Applicable to All Counts . . . [rifle exploded] causing severe personal injury to Plaintiff, Ronald W. Hansen); Count II (Products Liability); Count III (Negligence); Count IV (Compensatory Damages); and Count V (Exemplary Damages).” (Doc. 8).

         Jury trial in this matter is scheduled for November 19, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. before Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. (Doc. 19). Furthermore, the Court recently entered the standard Stipulated Protective Order. (Doc. 24).

         III. MEET AND CONFER REQUIREMENT

         Both the local rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure impose a meet-and-confer requirement. Before the parties can file discovery motions with the Court, they must meet and confer in good faith with each other in an attempt to resolve the dispute without court intervention. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37; LR 37, 7(1). Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a motion to compel include a certification that the movant “has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Likewise, the applicable local rule mandates that the movant attach, to his or her motion to compel, a declaration attesting that “[c]ounsel, in good faith, has conferred personally with counsel for the opposing party in an attempt to resolve or narrow by agreement the issues raised by the motion; [t]he lawyers have been unable to reach an agreement; and [t]he nature of the disagreement.” LR 37(a). Alternatively, the local rule also allows counsel to attach a declaration attesting that “a personal conference with opposing counsel was impossible” with a description of the efforts taken to schedule a personal conference. Id. The local rule specifies that merely “[a]n exchange of written communications or a single telephone message will not, by itself” satisfy the requirement of attempting to confer in good faith. Id.

         As other courts have noted, courts take the meet-and-confer requirement seriously.

         As the District Court in the Eastern Division of Missouri noted:

The meet-and-confer requirement is “not an empty formality.” Robinson v. Napolitano, No. Civ. 08-4084(VLD), 2009 WL 1586959, *3 (D. S.D. 2009). “Good faith” requires “a genuine attempt to resolve the discovery dispute through nonjudicial means, ” and “conferment” requires the parties “to have had an actual meeting or conference.” Shuffle Master, Inc. v. Progressive Games, Inc., 170 F.R.D. 166, 171 (D. Nev. 1996). Therefore, prior to filing a motion to compel, “a moving party must personally engage in two-way communication with the nonresponding party to meaningfully discuss each contested discovery dispute in a genuine effort to avoid judicial intervention.” Id. Unilateral communication demanding that the other side comply with a discovery request does not satisfy the requirement. Id. at 172; see also Alexander v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 186 F.R.D. 197, 198-99 (D. D.C. 1999) (stating that calling opposing counsel and leaving a vague message two hours before filing the discovery motion does not satisfy the meet-and-confer requirement). Nor is the requirement satisfied by communication in which a party indicates a motion to compel will be filed if the opposing party does not comply with discovery requests. Bolger v. District of Columbia, 248 F.R.D. 339, 343-44 (D. D.C. 2008).

Williams v. Central Transport Intern., Inc., No. 4:13-CV-2009 (CEJ), 2014 WL 6463306, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 17, 2014).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiffs move to have the Court compel defendants to take two actions. The first action involves defendants consenting to the testing of a part of the rifle barrel that peeled away during the explosion. The second ...


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