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Sinigaglio v. Federal National Mortgage Association

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 17, 2018

Joseph Sinigaglio, Plaintiff,
Federal National Mortgage Association, Defendant.


          Katherine Menendez United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Federal National Mortgage Association's (“Fannie Mae”) Motion to Compel Supplemental Initial Disclosures and Responses to Defendant's Discovery Requests, and to Deem Facts Admitted. [ECF No. 27.] Fannie Mae asks the Court to enter an Order that: (1) compels Mr. Singiaglio to supplement his initial disclosures to include the information required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(A); (2) compels him to provide complete responses to Fannie Mae's Interrogatories and Requests for Production; (3) deems statements in Fannie Mae's Requests for Admission admitted; and (4) awards Fannie Mae its reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees in bringing the motion to compel. [Id.] Mr. Sinigaglio filed written responses to the motion to compel on March 23 and March 27, 2018. [ECF Nos. 39 & 40.]

         On April 9, 2018, the Court held a hearing on the motion. The Court discussed the discovery and disclosure issues with counsel for both parties. Consistent with the foregoing discussion and the narrowing and clarification of issues that took place during the April 9, 2018 hearing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Fannie Mae's Motion to Compel [ECF No. 27] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as described more fully herein.

         1. Interrogatories and Requests for Production

         The greatest focus of the discussion at the hearing was on Mr. Sinigaglio's obligations to respond fully to Fannie Mae's interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Fannie Mae's motion to compel raises several issues with Mr. Sinigaglio's interrogatory responses and production of documents. The Court addresses the key issues below.

         Damages discovery

         In part, Fannie Mae asserts that Mr. Sinigaglio's responses to discovery provided insufficient information to substantiate his damages claims. Early on, Mr. Sinigaglio indicated that he seeks damages in excess of $200, 000. Over $100, 000 of those damages are for medical expenses and over $100, 000 are for “non-economic damages.” Fannie Mae asserts that Mr. Sinigaglio's documents and interrogatory responses do not provide a basis for such damages.

         The Court discussed the issue of discovery relating to damages with plaintiff's counsel at the hearing. Plaintiff's counsel confirmed that the documents reflecting medical expenses incurred as a result of the slip-and-fall incident at issue in this case show a damages range closer to $19, 000 or $20, 000. Plaintiff's counsel further clarified that the documentation of the medical bills he has provided represents the extent of the compensatory damages for medical expenses his client seeks in this case. He further indicated that the $100, 000 amount identified early in the litigation was a prediction based on incomplete information, and that Mr. Sinigaglio has lowered his settlement demand in this case upon learning that the medical expenses were less than anticipated.

         As explained at the hearing, the Court appreciates plaintiff's counsel's candor regarding the scope of damages for medical expenses sought in this case. The Court also appreciates Mr. Sinigaglio's willingness to engage in realistic settlement discussions during the course of the litigation. However, the lowering of the demand for settlement purposes does not eliminate the need for Mr. Sinigaglio to provide complete responses to discovery. To fulfill his obligations in this respect, the Court finds that Mr. Sinigaglio must supplement his response to Fannie Mae's Interrogatory No. 10, which asked Mr. Sinigaglio to “[p]rovide the specific amount and nature of any damages Plaintiff contends he sustained as a result of the acts and omissions of Fannie Mae alleged in the Complaint.”[1] [Hauser Aff. ¶ 7, Ex. F, Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Interrogs.]

         Accordingly, Fannie Mae's motion to compel is GRANTED IN PART to the extent it seeks a more complete answer to Interrogatory No. 10. Mr. Sinigaglio must provide a supplemental answer to this Interrogatory consistent with his counsel's representations at the hearing.[2]

         Before turning to the other written discovery issues raised by Fannie Mae, the Court is encouraged that the parties have made some efforts to reach a resolution of this case. It appears that the parties have recently made progress on that front and those efforts should continue. The District Court has recently ordered the parties to meet with the undersigned for a settlement conference no later than August 1, 2018. [Order, ECF No. 50.] That settlement conference will be scheduled by the Court as soon as possible. However, the Court advises the parties to make every effort to resolve this litigation on their own without the Court's assistance. Doing so seems more possible now than it has been in the past.

         Medica l providers

         The next major issue discussed at the hearing was Mr. Sinigaglio's compliance with discovery requests that sought information about his medical providers. For example, Fannie Mae asked Mr. Sinigaglio to identify doctors, physicians, persons, hospitals, and clinics where he received treatment during the last ten years. Prior to the hearing, Mr. Sinigaglio's responses to written discovery identified only one treating physician: Dr. Douglas Becker, Minneapolis Orthopedics. [Hauser Aff. ¶ 7, Ex. F, Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Interrog. No. 11.]

         Dr. Becker treated Mr. Sinigaglio for the injuries he sustained as a result of the incident alleged in the Complaint. Plaintiff's counsel confirmed at the hearing that no other medical provider has treated Mr. Sinigaglio for the injuries he attributes to that incident. However, Mr. Sinigaglio did not provide a list of any other medical providers who may also have treated him in the years leading up to the incident or since it occurred. The Court finds that Fannie Mae is entitled to obtain some discovery relating to other medical providers because that information is relevant to Fannie Mae's defense (particularly on the issue of damages) and proportional to the needs of the case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). However, the ten year period requested by Fannie Mae's Interrogatory No. 11 is too broad, and defense counsel agreed that a narrower time frame would be acceptable. The incident alleged in the Complaint occurred on November 25, 2013. The Court finds that medical records from other providers for the period of ...

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