Lawson Prods., Inc. v. Midwest Motor Supply Co. d/b/a Kimball Midwest, No. 17 C 1250, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill Nov., 27, 2018) (Gilbert, Mag. J.).
Magistrate Judge Gilbert denied the parties’ motions to compel discovery on the eve of fact discovery closing in this Lanham Act case. As an initial matter, the Court reminded the parties that the discovery standard is no longer that a request be reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. As of December 1, 2015, Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) requires discovery be relevant to a party’s claim or defense and that it be proportional to the needs of the case. Requests that are reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence may fall outside the new standard, as they did in this instance.
Plaintiff Lawson Products (“Lawson”) sought discovery regarding products sold by defendant Kimball, but not manufactured by them that used a black and yellow color scheme similar to the one at issue in the case. Kimball countered that it had no additional documents and that, in any event, the requests were unduly burdensome in light of a stipulation that Kimball had provided that the black and yellow color scheme was not exclusive to Kimball. In light of Kimball’s stipulation, the requests were unduly burdensome. Furthermore, based upon Kimball’s assertion that it had no further documents, the stipulation was more than Lawson would get from Kimball responding to the document request without any additional documents.
The Court also denied Kimball’s motion to compel. While Lawson “dribbled” out its information during discovery, it claims to have produced all responsive documents in its possession. And while its interrogatory responses may have provided only “minimally responsive” information, Lawson asserts it has no more information. Forcing an additional round of supplementation would be unduly burdensome at this point in the case. The Court also denied Kimball’s request for an order barring Lawson from offering any information beyond what it has produced to date. The Court noted that this request may have been the true aim of the motion to compel, but that it was premature. Should Kimball later prove that Lawson was not forthcoming in its discovery responses, the Court can address the issue when it arises.