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Steele v. Goodman

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

July 25, 2019

ROBERT DAVID STEELE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JASON GOODMAN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          M. Hannah Lauck, United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on four motions, all pertaining to discovery:

(1) pro se[1] Defendant Jason Goodman's "Motion for Protective Order and Motion to Stay Discovery," ("Goodman's Discovery Motion"), (ECF No. 109);
(2) Plaintiffs Robert David Steele and Earth Intelligence Network's ("EIN," and, collectively with Steele, "Plaintiffs") Motion for Sanctions, (ECF No. 121);
(3) Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery, (ECF No. 126), and the related Discovery Chart, (ECF No. 136); and,
(4) Plaintiffs' Motion for Protective Order, (ECF No. 127).

         The motions border on unintelligibility, and a review of the parties' other filings complicate matters further. Critically, Goodman and Plaintiffs (collectively, "Parties") consistently fail to satisfy all Local Rules for the Eastern District of Virginia. As a result, the Court will not decide the merits of these motions in their current form.

         I. Goodman's Protective Order and Motion to Stay Discovery

         In what purports to be a Motion for Protective Order and for Stay of Discovery, Goodman seeks a relief from engaging in discovery for this case via improper procedure and based on upon several faulty positions. First, Goodman's Discovery Motion does not comply with Local Rule 7(F)(1), which states, in relevant part: "All motions, unless otherwise directed by the Court and except as noted herein below in subsection 7(F)(2), [2] shall be accompanied by a written brief setting forth a concise statement of the facts and supporting reasons, along with a citation of the authorities upon which the movant relies." E.D. Va. Loc. Civ. R. 7(F)(1). Goodman's Discovery Motion consists of a single document in which Goodman moves the Court to stay discovery and enter a protective order in his favor and without making any substantial arguments in support of his motion.[3] Goodman failed to file his supporting brief separate from the motion itself, as required by the Local Rules.

         As to compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26 governs the broad scope of discovery:

Parties 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, considering 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Of course, discovery matters fall within the Court's sound discretion, and Goodman parrots the Rules when noting that "the court may grant an order to deny, limit or restrict discovery to '[p]rotect a participant or other person from undue annoyance, burden, harassment or oppression.'" (Goodman Disc. Mot. 3 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1) (emphasis omitted)).)

         But in relying on Rule 26(c)(1), Goodman fails to satisfy an additional procedural prerequisite: "The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Goodman's Discovery Motion meanders along a series of communications with Counsel for Plaintiffs regarding the Rule 26(f) Conference, focusing almost exclusively on alleged failures by Plaintiffs' Counsel. This does not constitute the kind of certification, or good faith attempt, that the Federal or Local Rules require.

         Even were the Court to overlook these procedural defects, Goodman's Discovery Motion fails to raise legally relevant arguments. Goodman generally makes two arguments in favor of entering a protective order, neither of which persuade the Court. First, Goodman essentially argues his case: "Plaintiff has failed to make a legitimate claim for which relief can be granted." (Goodman Disc. Mot. 2.) Goodman previously filed a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 45), which the Court denied, (ECF ...


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