United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Michael H. Watson
OPINION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. PRESTON DEAVERS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Motion to Compel
Answers to Interrogatories and Responses to Document Requests
(ECF No. 73), Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to
Plaintiffs Motion to Compel (ECF No. 80), and Plaintiffs
Reply in Support of their Motion to Compel. (ECF No. 81.) For
the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs Motion is GRANTED. (ECF
an action for relief pursuant to franchise agreements between
Plaintiff, Southern Glazer's Distributors of Ohio, LLC
("Southern Glazer's"), and Defendant, The Great
Lakes Brewing Company ("Great Lakes"), as well as
Southern Glazer's and Defendant Boston Brewing Company,
Inc. ("Boston Brewing"). The Court has previously
included a detailed recitation of the facts in a prior
Opinion and Order granting Defendants' Motion to Compel
(ECF No. 62 at 1-7) and will therefore only discuss the facts
most relevant to the instant motion.
assert six counterclaims against Plaintiff, several of which
are based, at least in part, on Defendants' assertion
that Plaintiff breached the change in ownership/control
provisions (and/or related consent language) in the
controlling franchise agreements. (See Defs.'
Answer at 32-38, ECF No. 21 ("Glazer's Ohio breached
Section 9(a) of the Franchise Agreement by failing to seek
and obtain Great Lakes' consent to the change of
ownership and/or control that occurred via the
Southern/Glazer's merger.").) Plaintiff included in
its second set of discovery requests two interrogatories
seeking information about Defendants' normal practice in
relation to the change in ownership/control provisions.
(PL's Mot. Compel at 5, ECF No. 73.) Plaintiff contends
that the interrogatories were based on the Defendants'
counterclaims and 30(b)(6) witnesses who testified that the
"change-in-ownership/control provisions are an
'essential term' in all their contracts."
(Id.) Defendants objected to Plaintiffs
interrogatories as "irrelevant to any issue in the
case." (Defs.' Opp. at 3, ECF No. 80.)
Plaintiff requests a Court Order compelling Defendants to
respond to the following two interrogatories:
Interrogatory 8. Describe each and
every circumstance in the past five years in which
[Defendant] Lakes received notice of a potential change in
the ownership and/or control of a distributor, and/or a
potential assignment of a distribution agreement, within the
meaning of [the change-in-control provision] of the 
Distribution Agreement (or a similarly-worded agreement).
Your description should include, but is not limited to, the
date of the notice, the identity of the distributor, the
events that constituted a potential change in the ownership
and/or control of the distributor, and/or a potential
assignment of the distribution agreement, and whether
[Defendant] consented to the change in the ownership and/or
control of the distributor and/or the assignment of the
Interrogatory 9. For each
circumstance identified in response to Interrogatory No. 8,
describe the information, documents, and process that
[Defendant] used to decide whether to grant or withhold its
consent, including all persons involved in the decision.
(Pis.'Mot. Compel at 5.)
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Rule of Civil Procedure 37 permits a party to file a motion
for an order compelling discovery if another party fails to
respond to discovery requests, provided that the motion to
compel includes a certification that the movant has, in good
faith, conferred or attempted to confer with the party
failing to respond to the requests. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1).
The Court is satisfied that this prerequisite to filing a
discovery motion has been satisfied.
the scope of discovery is within the Court's discretion.
Bush v. Dictaphone Corp., 161 F.3d 363, 367
(6th Cir. 1998). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1),
which sets forth the permissible scope of discovery, provides
(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise
limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows:
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 ...