United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel
Documents from Defendant Chris Leath (Dkt. #25). After
reviewing the relevant pleadings and motion, the Court finds
the motion should be granted in part and denied in part.
Peter Tsanacas alleges that his personal, confidential
information was unlawfully distributed to third-parties by
Defendant Chris Leath (“Defendant” or
“Leath”), an Amazon Senior Category Merchandise
Manager, who allegedly accessed Plaintiff's Amazon
account using his home computer and sent pictures of
Plaintiffs confidential information by text to a woman in
Texas. Plaintiff's causes of action against Leath include
federal claims under the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C.
2701-2712, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C.
1030; and state law claims under the Texas Harmful Access by
Computer Act, the Texas Identity Theft Enforcement and
Protection Act, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, invasion
of privacy, negligence, gross negligence and defamation.
August 15, 2017, Plaintiff served his first set of requests
for production (“RFPs”) to Leath (Dkt. #26,
Exhibit A). On September 14, 2017, Defendant Leath served his
responses to Plaintiff's first set of RFPs (Dkt. #26,
October 25, 2017, the Court held a telephone conference on
certain discovery issues, including Leath's invocation of
the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in
response to document requests. The Court directed both
parties to provide additional briefing on the issue.
October 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed this motion to compel (Dkt.
#25). On November 13, 2017, Leath filed a response (Dkt.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), parties “may
obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is
relevant to any party's claim or defense . . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevance, for the purposes of Rule
26(b)(1), is when the request is reasonably calculated to
lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Id.;
Crosby v. La. Health & Indem. Co., 647 F.3d 258,
262 (5th Cir. 2011). It is well-established that
“control of discovery is committed to the sound
discretion of the trial court.” Freeman v. United
States, 556 F.3d 326, 341 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Williamson v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 815 F.2d
368, 382 (5th Cir. 1987)).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a discovering
party, on notice to other parties and all affected persons,
to “move for an order compelling disclosure or
discovery.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). The moving party
bears the burden of showing that the materials and
information sought are relevant to the action or will lead to
the discovery of admissible evidence. Export Worldwide,
Ltd. v. Knight, 241 F.R.D. 259, 263 (W.D. Tex. 2006).
Once the moving party establishes that the materials
requested are within the scope of permissible discovery, the
burden shifts to the party resisting discovery to show why
the discovery is irrelevant, overly broad, unduly burdensome
or oppressive, and thus should not be permitted. Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 34 governs requests for production of
documents, electronically stored information, and tangible
things. Rule 34 requires responses to “either state
that inspection and related activities will be permitted as
requested or state with specificity the grounds for objecting
to the request, including the reasons.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
34(b)(2)(B). “An objection [to the entire request] must
state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on
the basis of that objection.” Id. 34(b)(2)(C).
On the other hand, “[a]n objection to part of a request
must specify the part and permit inspection of the
responding to each request with specificity, the responding
attorney must sign their request, response, or objection
certifying that the response is complete and correct to the
best of the attorney's knowledge and that any objection
is consistent with the rules and warranted by existing law or
a nonfrivolous argument for changing the law. Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(g). This rule “simply requires that the attorney
make a reasonable inquiry into the factual basis of his
response, request, or objection.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(g)
advisory committee note (1983).
federal rules follow a proportionality standard for
discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Under this requirement, the
burden falls on both parties and the court to consider the
proportionality of all discovery in resolving discovery
disputes. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), advisory committee note
(2015). This rule relies on the fact that each party has a
unique understanding of the proportionality to bear on the
particular issue. Id. For example, a party
requesting discovery may have little information about the
burden or expense of responding. Id. “The