United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Tenner Murphy, by his Guardians Kay and Richard Murphy; Marrie Bottelson; Dionne Swanson; and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
Emily Johnson Piper in her Capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Defendant.
DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon Defendant's appeal of
Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson's August 21, 2017 Order
and Opinion on Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel and
Defendant's Motion to Compel (“Order”) (Doc.
No. 78). Plaintiffs filed a response to Defendant's
objections on September 19, 2017. (Doc. No. 91.)
Court must modify or set aside any portion of the Magistrate
Judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or contrary
to law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); Local Rule 72.2(a). This is an
“extremely deferential” standard. Reko v.
Creative Promotions, Inc., 70 F.Supp.2d 1005, 1007 (D.
Minn. 1999). “A finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” Chakales v. Comm'r of Internal
Revenue, 79 F.3d 726, 728 (8th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Chase v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 926 F.2d
737, 740 (8th Cir. 1991)). “A magistrate judge's
ruling is contrary to law when it either fails to apply or
misapplies pertinent statutes, case law or rules of
procedure.” Coons v. BNSF Ry. Co., Civ. No.
15-4282 (WMW/TNL), __ F.Supp.3d __, 2017 WL 3382311, at *5
(D. Minn. Aug. 7, 2017) (citing Edeh v. Midland Credit
Mgmt., Inc., 748 F.Supp.2d 1030, 1043 (D. Minn. 2010)).
The Magistrate Judge's Order and Defendant's
Judge Thorson's August 21, 2017 Order addressed Motions
to Compel by Plaintiffs and Defendant, granting in part and
denying in part both motions. (See Doc. Nos. 59, 65,
78.) Only Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is at issue in
objects to the August 21, 2017 Order and asks the Court to
reverse the Order to the extent it obligates Defendant to
gather responsive information to Plaintiffs'
interrogatories contained in case management files from 87
lead agencies tasked with administering the State's
Waiver Services program. In particular, Defendant challenges the
Order with respect to Interrogatories 5, 6(c), 8, and 17.
According to Defendant, “[t]he Order is clearly
erroneous because it fails the Rule 26(b)(1) proportionality
test in which the court never engaged and rests on a
misinterpretation of the law.” (Doc. No. 79 at 2.)
Defendant asserts two fundamental objections. First,
Defendant argues that the discovery ordered by the Magistrate
Judge is not proportional under Rule 26(b)(1). Defendant
asserts that responding to the interrogatories at issue
“would require a subjective, substantive review of each
case management file, which would require a great deal of
time and resources.” (Id. at 5.) Second,
Defendant argues that the Magistrate Judge committed clear
error in requiring Defendant to obtain data from lead
agencies since “case management records are not in
Defendant's control and are not otherwise
‘reasonably available' to Defendant.”
contrast, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge did not
clearly err “in compelling Defendant to make efforts to
obtain information to supplement Defendant's
interrogatory responses that are proportional to the needs of
the case.” (Doc. No. 91 at 4.) First, Plaintiffs argue
that the issues involved in the disputed interrogatories are
of central importance to their case. Second, Plaintiffs
suggest that Defendant should have access to the information
in question and emphasize that Defendant must “make
efforts to obtain” responsive information.
(Id. at 6 (quoting Doc. No. 78 at 13).) In short,
Plaintiffs argue that Defendant has not met her burden to
demonstrate that the Magistrate Judge's Order merits
Court outlines each disputed interrogatory and the
parties' specific arguments, below.
Interrogatory No. 5: “Identify how many providers
are authorized to provide person-centered planning services
and how many of those providers specifically help individuals
develop person-centered transition
Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiff's Motion to Compel
with respect to Interrogatory No. 5 and ordered
“Defendant to identify the number of providers
she knows of who provide person-centered planning
services and how many of those providers
specifically help individuals develop person-centered
transition plans.” (Doc. No. 78 at 15.) The Magistrate
Judge also stated that “[i]f, after sufficient inquiry,
Defendant lacks necessary information to make a full, fair,
and specific answer to an interrogatory, she must state so
under oath and Defendant must also set forth in detail the
efforts made to obtain the information.” (Id.)
asserts that it does not have data concerning providers who
are “authorized” to provide person-centered
planning services because the term “authorized”
has no meaning in this context. Defendant contends that she
has provided available information and explains that
answering whether person-centered planners help to develop
transition plans would require case-management-level review.
Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge did not err in
directing Defendant to supplement her ...