Will Soper writes: 

On May 29, the United State Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled on several discovery motions between disputed owners of an unsecured claim in a bankruptcy action.  See In re: Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., Inc., No. 15-1145 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. May 29, 2018).  The case serves as a reminder that bankruptcy litigation matters are subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and objections to discovery must be specific enough to avoid waivers of the objections for lack of specificity.

Document ProductionThe dispute centers around whether or not Earl of Sandwich (“Earl”) sold its $3.6 million claim against Caesars to Whitebox Advisors, LLC (“Whitebox”). Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the hearing to determine the true holder of the claim included a discovery process which incorporates Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26, 30, 34, and 37.  Both parties filed motions objecting to document requests.

The court took a hard line against “rote or boilerplate” objections to document requests and found that where Whitebox simply stated that requests were “overbroad” or “unduly burdensome” without specificity or reasons given, the objections were insufficient and resulted in waivers.  Id. at 6-7.

Similarly, the court found that objections must be raised by a party in its Response to a Request for Production of Documents, not in discussions with the opposing party or other pleadings. Whitebox failed to properly assert its objections on the grounds of relevance, raising them for the first time in its Response to Earl’s Motion to Compel and asserting they were discussed in conference. As such, the court deemed these objections waived as well.  The Court also found that failure to serve a privilege log amounts to “non-assertion of the privilege” and constitutes yet another waiver.  Id. at 9-10.

Will Soper is a Summer Associate in Fox Rothschild’s Denver, Colorado Office.