United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF GERALD
ULIBARRI39;S MOTION TO COMPEL [1" name="FN1" id="FN1">1]
H. RITTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Southland39;s
Motion to Compel [Doc. 89');">89');">89');">89]. The Court, having
considered the submissions, the relevant law, and being
otherwise fully advised in the premises finds that Defendant
Southland39;s Motion is not well taken and should be
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Ulibarri filed his Class Action Complaint on October 16, 2015
in the Eleventh Judicial District Court in San Juan New
Mexico, alleging that Defendant Southland Royalty Company,
LLC (Southland) underpaid royalties to him and to other
members of the putative class on natural gas produced by
Southland from wells located in the state of New Mexico since
January 1, 2015. [Doc. 1-1, ¶¶ 1-2]. Southland
removed the action from state court on March 22, 2016. [Doc.
1]. The parties are engaged in discovery in advance of and
pertaining to the class certification hearing set for
September 9, 2019. [Doc. 47; Doc 121; Doc. 159].
issue in the instant Motion are Southland39;s Interrogatory
No. 4 and Request for Production No. 9 to Plaintiff Ulibarri
Interrogatory No. 4: Identify each
Royalty Interest you own or have owned in any natural gas
producing property. For each interest, state (1) the type of
interest (i.e., royalty, overriding royalty interest, or
unleased mineral interest), (b) the geographic location of
the property by county and state, (c) the well name or
number, (d) your percentage of interest, (e) the names of all
payors, current and past, (f) the names of all operators,
current and past (g) the name of any unit to which the
interest is committed, (h) the dates of your ownership of
such interests, (i) how the property was acquired, e.g., by
gift, purchase, exchange, inheritance or devise, or any other
method by which you acquired or claim to have acquired such
interest, and if by multiple conveyances, separately identify
each conveyance by grantor, grantee, date and percentage
ownership conveyed, (j) the methodology used to calculate
that interest, (k) the dates upon which you became aware of
the methodology, (1) how you became aware of the methodology,
(m) all social security numbers or taxpayer identification
numbers under which you have received payments attributable
to any mineral interest you claim to own, and (n) the total
amount of royalties you received from each payor. ….
Request for Production No. 9: With
respect to Interrogatory Number 4, (a) all documents relating
to the basis for paying royalties identified in Interrogatory
4, and the method for calculating such payments; (b) all
contracts, agreements, and other instruments relating to your
working interests; (c) all leases, division orders, unit
agreements, and other agreements relating to your payment of
Royalties; and (d) all documents relating to your payment of
Royalty Interests, including samples of each type of check
detail or monthly statement used in making such payments.
[Doc. 89');">89');">89');">89, pp. 3-5].
Ulibarri objected to these discovery requests as overly broad
as they are not limited in geographical or temporal scope.
[Doc. 89');">89');">89');">89-1, p. 5');">p. 5]. Plaintiff Ulibarri further objected on
relevance grounds, asserting that the information sought is
not relevant to the claims in this litigation, which are
based on Southland39;s New Mexico natural gas production
since January 1, 2015, or to the class certification
requirements set forth by Rule 23(a).
parties attempted in good faith to resolve their discovery
disputes. [Doc. 89');">89');">89');">89-2, p. 1; Doc. 89');">89');">89');">89-3, p. 1]. However, the
parties were not able to come to an agreement relative to
Southland39;s requests for “information about each
royalty interest that [he] currently owns or has owned in
any natural gas producing property, ” which
Southland claims is relevant for purposes of class
certification, and now seeks to compel. [Doc. 89');">89');">89');">89, p. 3].
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) governs the scope of
discovery, providing that “[p]arties may obtain
discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant
to any party39;s claim or defense and proportional to the
needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant
evidence is that which “has any tendency to make a fact
more or less probable than it would be without the evidence;
and the fact is of consequence in determining the
action.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. However, “[i]nformation
within [the] scope of discovery need not be admissible in
evidence to be discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1);
see Regan-Touhy v. Walgreen Co., 3d 641');">526 F.3d 641, 649
(10th Cir. 2008) (“Under our rules, parties to civil
litigation are given broad discovery privileges.”).
Nonetheless, the Court is not required to permit the parties
to engage in fishing expeditions in the hope of supporting
their claims or defenses. See Landry v. Swire Oilfield
Servs., L.L.C., 323 F.R.D. 360');">323 F.R.D. 360, 375 (D.N.M. 2018).
considerations in determining the scope of permissible
discovery include “the importance of the issues at
stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the
parties39; relative access to relevant information, the
parties39; 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). Ultimately, “[c]ounsel bears the
responsibility of propounding proper discovery requests, and
expecting counsel to fulfill this responsibility is neither
capricious nor unfair.” Punt v. Kelly
Services, 3d 1040');">862 F.3d 1040, 1047 (10th Cir. 2017).
may propound interrogatories and requests for production
pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 33 and 34,
provided that such requests are within the scope of Rule
26(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a); Fed.R.Civ.P.
34(a). “[A]n evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer,
or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer
or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). A party may move to
compel a response if good faith attempts to secure the answer
are unsuccessful. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv). The party
moving to compel discovery has the burden of ...