United States District Court, D. Maryland
DAVID G. FEINBERG, et al., and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs
T. ROWE PRICE GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.
Mark Coulson United States Magistrate Judge
matter has been referred to me for discovery and all related
scheduling. (ECF No. 75). Presently before the Court is T.
Rowe Price Groups' (“Defendants”) Motion to
Compel Further Interrogatory Responses. (ECF No. 120). David
Feinberg, and all others similarly situated
(“Plaintiffs”) filed an Opposition (ECF No.
120-10), and Defendants filed a Reply (ECF No. 120-12). This
issue is fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105(6) (2018). For the reasons stated
below, Defendants' Motion to Compel Further Interrogatory
Responses is GRANTED in PART.
pertinent to this Motion, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants
violated the Employment Retirement Income Security Act
(“ERISA”) by limiting the investment options of
the T. Rowe Price U.S. Retirement Program (“the
Plan”) to a range of investment options offered by T.
Rowe, to the exclusion of other funds by non-T. Rowe
affiliated providers. (ECF No. 120-2 at 2). In addition,
Plaintiffs allege that the Plan's investment options were
too expensive, Defendants imprudently failed to remove funds
that underperformed, Defendants relied upon improper
benchmarks to assess performance, and Defendants used Plan
assets to seed new investment vehicles. Id.
the discovery posture of this matter, a scheduling order was
issued on December 18, 2018, establishing a June 1, 2019
deadline for the service of fact discovery requests including
requests for admission. (ECF No. 65). On March 27, 2019, the
fact discovery deadline was reestablished as July 30,
2019. (ECF No. 73). Shortly thereafter, on April
17, 2019, this case was referred to me for discovery and
related scheduling, prompted by a motion to compel filed by
Plaintiffs regarding Defendants' Response to Request for
Production of Documents. (ECF No. 75). The motion was denied.
(ECF No. 76.)
short order, this Court next dealt with various discovery
disputes centered largely on the discovery of Electronically
Stored Information (“ESI”). (ECF Nos. 85, 94, 104
& 105). On July 1, 2019, the Court also granted the
parties' joint motion to extend the schedule deadlines by
ninety days, extending the deadline for service of written
discovery to September 30, 2019, and fact discovery to
October 28, 2019. (ECF No. 103).
August 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Targeted ESI
Discovery Relief (ECF No. 107), to which Defendants responded
on September 3, 2019. (ECF No. 110). This Court denied
Plaintiffs' Motion (ECF No. 111). On September 30, 2019,
Counsel filed an additional joint motion for a thirty-five
day extension of time to complete fact discovery, which this
Court granted on that same day, thereby extending the
discovery deadline to December 2, 2019. (ECF Nos. 114 and
115). Thus, the parties have been engaged in fact discovery
for almost a year, have appropriately and promptly sought
Court assistance when necessary, and hopefully would agree
that the Court has responded in a nimble fashion to resolve
disputes as they arose.
question pending before the Court is whether to compel
Plaintiffs to fully respond to Defendants'
Interrogatories, specifically numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12,
and 14, with the information available to them at this stage
of the case now that fact discovery has closed. (ECF No. 120
at 1). Plaintiffs resist answering, arguing that the
interrogatories are premature, overly broad, unduly
burdensome, and/or compound.
Discovery at Issue
interrogatories at issue are as follows.
number four requests that Plaintiffs:
State all facts and identify all Documents and Communications
that You believe support Your contention that Plan Investment
Options charged the Plan and/or Plan participants excessive
or unreasonable fees at any point during the Relevant Time
Period. See Compl. ¶ 53-74. Include in Your
response an identification of Investment Options allegedly
bearing excessive or unreasonable fees, and the period of
time within the Relevant Time period during which You contend
those Investment Options' fees were excessive or
unreasonable. (ECF No. 120-4 at 8).
object on the grounds that the interrogatory is premature (by
which Plaintiffs mean prior to the close of expert
discovery), overbroad, unduly burdensome, compound and
impermissibly seeks discovery of expert information prior to
an obligation to provide same. (ECF No. 120-5 at 7).
Plaintiffs also object to the phrase “excessive or
unreasonable fees” as an improper distillation of the
allegations in paragraphs 53-74 of Plaintiffs' Second
Amended Complaint. Id.
number five requests that Plaintiffs:
State all facts and identify all Documents and Communications
that You believe support Your contention that the Plan's
Investment Options charged fees that “were generally
many times higher than the fees in comparable funds offered
by other mutual fund companies that were frequently used by
other plans.” Compl. ¶ 52. Include in Your
response an identification of the purportedly
“comparable funds” and all facts purporting to
show that those funds are “comparable” to one or
more of the Investment Options. (ECF No. 120-4 at 8).
raise the same objections. (ECF No. 120-5 at 8).
number six requests that Plaintiffs:
Identify all Investment Options that You contend had a
“cheaper, yet materially identical Sub-advised
analogue that could have replaced the Investment Option in
the Plan at any point during the relevant Time Period. Compl.
¶ 68. Include in Your response an identification of each
“cheaper, yet materially identical Sub-Advised
analogue” that corresponds to each Investment Option
and the period of time within the Relevant Time Period during
which you contend that the “cheaper, yet materially
identical Sub-Advised analogue” was available. (ECF
No. 120-4 at 7-8).
objects that the interrogatory is premature and seeks
disclosure of expert information prior to any obligation to
provide same. (ECF No. 120-5 at 8).
number seven requests that Plaintiffs:
Identify the investment Options that You contend were
“underperforming” or “poorly performing
investments” that Defendants imprudently and disloyally
“failed to monitor” and remove at any point
during the Relevant time period. See Compl.
¶¶ 75-90. Include in Your response an
identification of the date on which You contend a prudent
fiduciary would have removed the identified Investment
Options. (ECF No. 120-4 at 7-8).
object that the interrogatory is premature and compound and
seeks disclosure of expert information prior to any