Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC v. 252.071 Acres, More or Less, in Baltimore County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 6, 2016

Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC
v.
252.071 Acres, More or Less, in Baltimore County, Maryland, et al.;

          Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge

         Dear Counsel:

         Pursuant to an order referring this case to me for discovery, [ECF No. 223], I have reviewed the Motions to Compel filed by both parties, and the oppositions and replies thereto. [ECF Nos. 222, 224]. No hearing is deemed necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Compel will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART; and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Columbia Gas Transmission LLC (“Columbia”) is authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to engage in the business of transporting natural gas. Columbia has operated a natural gas pipeline (“Line MB”[1]) in and around Baltimore County since the 1960s. See Pl.'s Compl., [ECF No. 1 at 22]. Columbia now seeks to construct and operate an extension to Line MB. Id. FERC issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Columbia for this purpose on November 21, 2013. Id. Subsequently, Columbia filed a complaint in condemnation against numerous owners of interest in real property (“Defendants”) seeking temporary and permanent easements on Defendants' property necessary to carry out the project. Id. Defendants Dean L. and Jill K. Fiergang, Mary M. Herndon, Robert and Joan M. Iwanowski, Chanan and Adriana Levy, Benjamin Lowentritt, Steven G. and Lisa C. Luray, Lee Snyder, and Timothy S. Wang are involved in the instant discovery dispute.

         In March, 2016, U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander granted Columbia's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Immediate Possession, allowing Columbia to begin surveying and construction activities and to take immediate possession of the areas of Defendants' property over which easements are sought. See [ECF Nos. 163, 164]. The only issues remaining before the Court involve determining “whether Columbia is entitled to any permanent land rights in this matter” and “the amount of any just compensation owed to the [Defendants] in this matter.” Order Granting Pl.'s Mot. for Immediate Possession of the Easements, [ECF No. 181 at 3]. The instant discovery dispute relates to the latter of these two issues.

         The parties' Amended Scheduling Order set a discovery deadline of November 4, 2016. See [ECF No. 221]. The parties exchanged interrogatories and requests for production beginning in January, 2016. See [ECF Nos. 222 at 1-3, 224 at 1-4]. Answers and responses from both sides, as well as discussions intended to cure perceived deficiencies, followed. Id. Despite these efforts, Defendants filed their Motion to Compel Discovery Responses on July 13, 2016. See [ECF No. 222]. Columbia's Motion to Compel Discovery Responses followed on July 14, 2016. See [ECF No. 224].

         Each party disputes the adequacy of several of its opponent's Responses to Document Production Requests and Answers to Interrogatories. Specifically, the following Answers and Responses are contested:

• Columbia's Responses to Defendants' Requests for Document Production Nos. 9, 16, 20, 21, and 23 as to Defendants Fiergang, Herndon, Iwanowski, Levy, Lowentritt, and Luray;
• Columbia's Responses to Defendants' Requests for Document Production Nos. 27, 28, and 30 as to Defendant Herndon;
• Columbia's Responses to Defendants' Requests for Document Production Nos. 27 and 28 as to Defendants Lowentritt and Fiergang;
• Columbia's Responses to Defendants' Requests for Document Production No. 27 as to Defendant Iwanowski;
• Columbia's Answers to Defendants' Interrogatories Nos. 1 and 18 as to Defendants Fiergang, Herndon, Iwanowski, Levy, Lowentritt, and Luray;
• Defendants' Response to Columbia's Request for Document Production No. 3 as to Defendants Fiergang, Herndon, Iwanowski, Levy, Lowentritt, Luray, Snyder, and Wang; and
• Defendants' Answer to Columbia's Interrogatory No. 14 as to Defendants Fiergang, Herndon, Iwanowski, Levy, Lowentritt, Luray, Snyder, and Wang.

         I will address each of these disputes in turn.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) permits discovery of “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” In determining proportionality, the Court must consider “the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendants' Motion to Compel

         1. Graphic representations, surveys, construction and engineering plans, and related visual and technical information i. Request for Document Production No. 9

         Defendants' Request for Document Production No. 9 asks Columbia to produce all graphic representations, such as photographs, maps, diagrams or surveys, relating to the Defendants' Property. Defs.' Mot. to Compel, [ECF No. 222-1 at 7]. Columbia contends Request No. 9 is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and irrelevant to the extent it seeks graphic representations of Defendants' property prior to the date of the taking. Id. Nonetheless, Columbia promised to produce any plats depicting the easements it seeks to acquire relating to Defendants' property, and reserved the right to supplement its Response with documents produced as part of its expert disclosures. Id. at 7-8. Defendants claim that Response No. 9 is deficient because Columbia has limited its production to plats amounting to “rough sketches of the properties and Line MB locations” that lack specificity as to the location of the lots, as well as the permanent and construction easements sought. Id. at 1-2, 8. In its Opposition, Columbia insists that it has already produced all non-privileged and responsive documents it possesses relating to this Request and, therefore, that Defendants' motion to compel should be denied. Pl.'s Opp., [ECF No. 222-2 at 2].

         According to Judge Hollander's finding, Columbia has furnished the following graphic representations:

• A set of maps identifying “each particular lot for which Columbia seeks an easement relative to adjacent properties and major roads;”
• A set of maps containing “diagrams purporting to show the path of the pipeline and the proposed easement on each ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.