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Moore v. Lightstorm Entertainment

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 18, 2016

BRYANT MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
LIGHTSTORM ENTERTAINMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles B. Day United States Magistrate Judge.

         Defendants, Lightstorm Entertainment, James Cameron, and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, submit before this Court their Motion to Compel (“the Motion”) (ECF No. 233). Plaintiff Bryant Moore filed a response, pro se, in Opposition to the Motion. The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions and applicable law. No hearing is deemed necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons presented below, the Court DENIES the Motion without prejudice.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff initiated a copyright action against Defendants on December 19, 2011 (ECF No. 1). On January 31, 2015, this Court granted Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment and awarded costs in favor of Defendants (ECF No. 176). On August 31, 2015, the Court ordered Plaintiff to pay taxable costs in the amount of $30, 028.25 (ECF No. 218), and on September 1, 2015, the Court awarded attorney's fees in the amount of $741, 785.00 and nontaxable costs in the amount of $435, 735.00 (ECF No. 220). In total, the judgment against Plaintiff amounts to $1, 207, 548.25 in attorney's fees and costs. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the Court's judgment on March 15, 2016 (ECF No. 226).

         On March 30, 2016, Defendants served fifteen written interrogatories and fifteen document requests on Plaintiff. Defs.' Mot. 2. Plaintiff's responses were due by May 2, 2016, but Plaintiff failed to respond. Id. at 3. Defendants' counsel then sent Plaintiff an email on May 12, 2016, informing him that Defendants intended to file a motion to compel, and also requested a meeting with Plaintiff to “confer regarding the discovery.” Id. Plaintiff has similarly not responded to this request. Id. at 4.

         DISCUSSION

         Rule 69(b) permits a judgment creditor to obtain discovery “[i]n aid of the judgment or execution . . . as provided in [the Federal Rules] or by the procedure of the state where the court is located.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 69(b). The Maryland Rules also allow for a judgment creditor to “obtain discovery to aid enforcement of a money judgment [] by use of depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents[.]” Md. Rules 2-633.[1] Rule 37 allows the Court to compel a party to respond to discovery requests when a party fails to respond to discovery requests. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. The Court has broad discretion in whether to grant or deny a motion to compel. See Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) (reviewing denial or granting of motions to compel for abuse of discretion).

         I. Defendants failed to comply with Local Rule 102.1(c).

         Local Rule 102.1(c) requires for proof of service:

[A]ll court documents other than the original complaint must bear a signed certificate signed by counsel stating that the service required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(a) has been made.

(Emphasis added.)

         Defendants have included as Exhibit D, attached to the Motion, the Certificate of Service for Defendants' post-judgment discovery requests. The Certificate of Service is signed, however, by the “Assistant to” one of Defendants' counsel. Local Rule 102.1(c) expressly requires a “certificate signed by counsel” and does not provide an option for a signature from the counsel's assignee.

         The purpose of Local Rule 102 is to ensure effective delivery and receipt of discovery and pleadings among the parties, and the rule intentionally holds the parties' counsel responsible for that task. With this understanding, Defendants have the opportunity to cure the deficiency in their Certificate of Service by providing evidence of Plaintiff's receipt of the discovery demands. Such evidence can be in the form of a receipt from Federal Express with a supporting affidavit or by a reference to Plaintiff's admission that he did in fact receive the discovery requests. Provided that Defendants can satisfy this requirement to comply with the spirit and purpose of Local Rule 102.1(c), the Court will GRANT IN PART a supplemental motion as explained below.

         II. Defendants' ...


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