United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL
BANK'S MOTION TO COMPEL INTERROGATORY ANSWERS
H. RITTER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Los Alamos National
Bank's Motion to Compel Interrogatory
Answers. [Doc. 62]. The Court, having considered the
parties' submissions, the relevant law, and being
otherwise fully advised in the premises finds that the Motion
is well taken and should be granted.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case arises out of alleged breaches of a Mortgage Loan
Servicing Rights Purchase Agreement (Agreement) by which Los
Alamos National Bank (LANB) sold Fidelity Bank (Fidelity) the
servicing rights to approximately 4, 500 mortgage loans on
real property in northern New Mexico. [Doc. 30-1]. The
Agreement provides Fidelity several options in the event of a
defect with any of the mortgages whose servicing rights
Fidelity purchased. [Doc. 30-1, p. 31]. According to
Fidelity, claims by the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San
Ildefonso, and Tesuque that certain county roads built by the
County of Santa Fe trespass on tribal land impact the access
roads to approximately 240 real properties subject to
mortgages now serviced by Fidelity by virtue of the Agreement
with LANB. [Doc. 4, pp. 9-11]. Fidelity further contends that
the disputed access roads cloud title to the mortgaged
properties. [Id., p. 10].
April 11, 2018, Fidelity wrote to LANB asserting that the
Pueblos' Access Claims clouded title to approximately 240
mortgaged properties, rendering those mortgage loans
defective within the meaning of the Agreement. [Doc. 30-2].
Fidelity demanded that LANB repurchase the defective loans.
[Id.]. LANB refused and filed this declaratory
judgment action, seeking a declaration that LANB did not
cause a defect in the mortgage loans or servicing rights, has
no obligation to repurchase the mortgage loans or servicing
rights, and did not breach the Agreement. [Doc. 1]. Fidelity
brought contractual and tort counterclaims against LANB,
specifically, breach of contract, breach of the implied
covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional
misrepresentation, fraud by silence, and negligent
misrepresentation. [Doc. 4, pp. 4-17].
February 6, 2019, LANB served its First Set of
Interrogatories and Requests for Production on Fidelity.
[Doc. 46]. LANB's First Set of Interrogatories consisted
of five enumerated interrogatories, three of which contained
subparts. [Doc. 61-1, pp. 1-10]. Fidelity asserted various
objections to each interrogatory and did not provide any
substantive answers. [Id.]. On March 26, 2019, the
Court held an informal discovery conference to address the
parties' discovery disputes, including disputes
concerning Fidelity's objections to LANB's
interrogatories. [Doc. 51].
for Fidelity represented that Fidelity had engaged Consensus
Planning, Inc. to help it identify the mortgages whose
servicing rights were impacted by the Pueblos' Access
Claims and that it anticipated being able to provide
information responsive to LANB's interrogatories by April
12, 2019. [Doc. 50; Doc. 53]. The parties agreed that
Fidelity would accordingly supplement its discovery responses
by April 12, 2019, LANB would wait to file any Motion to
Compel until after the April 12, 2019 supplementation
promised by Fidelity, and the remaining pretrial deadlines
would be extended to accommodate the additional time provided
for discovery. [Id.]. The Court memorialized these
parties' stipulations in an Order Granting Extension
of Time [Doc. 52] and an Amended Scheduling
Order [Doc. 54].
April 12, 2019, Fidelity supplemented its answers to
LANB's First Set of Interrogatories. [Doc. 58]. The April
12, 2019 supplementation included additional objections to
LANB's interrogatories but did not include any responsive
answers. [Compare Doc. 62-1, pp. 1-10 with
Doc. 62-2, pp. 1-10]. In making its additional objections,
pertaining to Interrogatory Nos. 2, 3, and 5, Fidelity
asserted the information sought would be the subject of
expert testimony and would be provided in or supplemented
concurrently with its expert disclosures. [Doc. 62-2, pp.
1-10]. LANB filed the instant Motion on April 19, 2019. [Doc.
62]. LANB challenges the validity of certain of
Fidelity's objections and requests that the Court compel
Fidelity to fully answer each of LANB's interrogatories.
[Id., pp. 5-8]. LANB also seeks to recover
attorneys' fees associated with bringing the Motion.
[Id., pp. 8-9].
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 party'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., 1');">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, 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
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). 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, 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 proving the
opposing party's answers were incomplete. See
Daiflon, Inc. v. Allied Chem. Corp., 1');">534 F.2d 221, 227
(10th Cir. 1976).
Fidelity's Objections to ...