United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter has been referred to me for discovery disputes and
related scheduling matters. [ECF No. 58]. Plaintiff People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc.
(“PETA”) filed this citizen lawsuit against
Defendants Tri-State Zoological Park of Western Maryland,
Inc., and Animal Park Care & Rescue, Inc. (collectively,
“Tri-State”), and Robert L. Candy
(“Candy”), alleging ongoing violations of the
Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and its
implementing regulations. [ECF No. 1]. Presently pending is
PETA's July 2, 2018 request for leave to re-depose
Defendants' primary veterinarian, Dr. Gale Duncan, and
for an order compelling Defendants' production of (1)
veterinary records related to the death of Cayenne, a tiger
who died under anesthesia while under Dr. Duncan's care,
and (2) Tri-State's purchase and financial records. [ECF
No. 62]. I held a telephone conference with the parties on
July 3, 2018. During the conference, I granted the parties
leave to conduct a limited re-deposition of Dr. Duncan as a
fact witness, in accordance with their agreement.
Specifically, if Dr. Duncan is designated as an expert
witness for Defendants, the re-deposition will occur at the
same time as the expert deposition. I also instructed
Defendants' counsel to ask Dr. Duncan regarding the
timetable for producing her remaining veterinary records
relating to the death of Cayenne, and to notify me if there
would be a problem producing those records to PETA in advance
of the agreed re-deposition date.
respect to PETA's request for Tri-State's financial
records, in addition to the arguments made during the
conference, I have considered PETA's requests,
Defendants' response, and related correspondence and
exhibits. [ECF Nos. 62, 63, 64, 65, 66]. For the following
reasons, PETA's request for an order compelling
Defendants' production of Tri-State's purchase and
financial records is DENIED.
January 12, 2018, PETA submitted its First Set of Document
Requests to Defendants. See Pl.'s First Set Doc.
Reqs. In its requests, PETA specifically requested
“[a]ll documents related to the purchase of items for
the care of lions, tigers, and lemurs, including but not
limited to receipts or invoices for food, nutritional
supplements, veterinary supplies, substrate, bedding
materials, toys, tires, boomer balls, bowling balls, ropes,
pools, or other environmental enrichment items.”
Id. at 9 ¶ 4. PETA also requested “[a]ll
documents that you contend support Tri-State has the
financial wherewithal to care for the animals in its
possession (or the possession of any Defendant).”
Id. at 10 ¶ 11. On February 19, 2018,
Defendants submitted to PETA its Responses to Plaintiff's
Request for Production of Documents. See Defs.'
Resps. to Pl.'s Req. Produc. Docs., [ECF No. 67-1]. With
respect to PETA's request for documents related to the
purchase of items for the care of lions, tigers, and lemurs,
Defendants objected on the basis of “relevance and
improper purpose, ” but provided documents related to
food donations and food supplies. Id. ¶ 4.
Defendants also objected to PETA's request for documents
related to Tri-State's financial wherewithal on the basis
of “improper purpose.” Id. ¶ 11.
March 12, 2018, PETA submitted a letter identifying
“several deficiencies in Tri-State's responses,
” including Defendants' failure to provide purchase
records and financial records. [ECF No. 67-2 at 1, 8-10]. In
a March 30, 2018 email, Defendants provided supplemental
interrogatory responses, but advised PETA that “there
[we]re no more responsive documents in [Defendants']
possession.” [ECF No. 67-3]. Despite Defendants'
response that they would provide no further documents in
response to PETA's requests, PETA did not seek an order
to compel production of such documents, nor did it seek a
pre-motion conference with the Court to discuss its request,
until July 2, 2018. [ECF No. 62].
July 2, 2018 request, PETA requested Tri-State's
financial records to support its “allegations that
Tri-State's financial weakness prevents it from providing
adequate care to its animals.” [ECF No. 62 at 2]. In
response, Defendants argued that: (1) Tri-State's
financial records are not relevant to the instant case, and
(2) PETA failed to timely move to compel Tri-State's
financial records in accordance with the Local Rules. [ECF
No. 66]. I agree that PETA's request for an order to
compel Tri-State's financial records is untimely.
reviewing the related correspondence and exhibits, this Court
finds that PETA failed to timely file its motion to compel
Defendants' purchase and financial records. Pursuant to
Local Rule 104.8, “[i]f a party who has propounded . .
. requests for production is dissatisfied with the response
to them and has been unable to resolve informally . . . any
disputes with the responding party, that party shall
serve a motion to compel within thirty (30) days of the
party's receipt of the response.” Loc. R.
104.8(a) (emphasis added). Here, Defendants notified PETA
that they would not produce any further documents, including
their purchase records and financial records, on March 30,
2018. [ECF No. 67-3]. Accordingly, to comply with Local Rule
104.8, PETA was required to file any motion to compel related
to its document requests on or before April 30,
2018. Instead, PETA filed its motion on July 2,
2018. [ECF No. 62]. PETA's motion to compel
Defendants' purchase and financial records is therefore
time-barred under the Local Rules.
above reasons, PETA's request for an order compelling
Defendants' production of Defendants' purchase and
financial records is DENIED.
the informal nature of this letter, it should be flagged as