Massachusetts Court Explains the Scope of Discovery in Federal Litigation

Ride-sharing companies generally maintain that the people who drive on their behalf are independent contractors, not employees. As such, if a person working for a ride-sharing company causes an accident, the company must likely will deny that it is vicariously liable. Discovery is critical in such cases, and it allows plaintiffs to obtain information that could support their claims, but defendants often deny that such discovery is necessary and refuse to comply with plaintiffs’ requests. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case in which the defendant ride-sharing company moved for a protective order to quash the plaintiff’s requests. If you were hurt in a collision involving a ride-sharing company, it is advisable to speak to a capable Massachusetts car accident lawyer to assess what damages you may be owed.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was walking in a crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle operated by the defendant driver. The plaintiff sustained injuries in the crash and subsequently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts seeking compensation from the defendant driver, as well as the defendant ride-sharing company, who the plaintiff alleged employed the defendant driver.

Allegedly, the plaintiff sent the defendant company interrogatories and requests for production of documents seeking, among other things, information regarding the relationship between the defendant company and the defendant driver. The defendant company filed a motion for a protective order, asking the court to rule that it did not have to answer the requests. In response, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant company to respond.

The Scope of Discovery in Federal Litigation

The court ultimately denied the defendant company’s motion and granted the plaintiff’s motion in part. The court explained that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure define the scope of discovery and set forth grounds for seeking and granting motions for protective orders and to compel parties to respond to discovery. Pursuant to the Rules, any information that is relevant to an issue in the case is generally discoverable, as long as the request for such information is not overly burdensome or meant to oppress or harass the opposing party.

Courts will evaluate the importance of the information sought and the extent to which the party requesting it can obtain such information on its own. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant company failed to prove that its objections were valid in that much of the information sought pertained to the issue of whether there was an employment relationship between the defendants. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion and granted the plaintiff’s motion in part.

Consult a Massachusetts Attorney Regarding Your Potential Claims

If you were injured in a collision caused by a person driving on behalf of a company, you might be able to recover damages from both the individual and their employer, and you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled lawyers of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, possess the knowledge and experience needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 888-262-6664 to set up a conference.


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