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Bowoto v. Chevron Corp.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


June 22, 2005

LARRY BOWOTO, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHEVRON CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Illston United States District Judge

ORDER RE: FALSE AND FORGED DISCOVERY RESPONSES

By letter briefs,*fn1 defendants bring a series of requests relating to deposition testimony from plaintiffs that their sworn discovery responses were false or forged.

1. Deposition of Ayiwe

Defendants request that the Court require plaintiffs to produce Macauley Ayiwe, the interpreter who translated the discovery submissions at issue, for deposition. Plaintiffs agree to this request. Pl.'s Opp'n at 1. Therefore, the Court GRANTS defendants' request.

2. Depositions of Obele Ignoni and Rodah Eferusua

In his deposition, Ignoni stated that the signature on his verification of interrogatory responses was forged.*fn2 Eferusua stated at her deposition that her interrogatory responses were incorrect and provided a variety of reasons why her testimony differed from her interrogatory responses. Defendants asked plaintiffs a variety of questions regarding the circumstances surrounding their involvement in the interrogatory responses. While plaintiffs answered some of the questions, plaintiffs' counsel instructed plaintiffs not to answer some questions on the basis of attorney client privilege.

Because of plaintiffs' failure to answer many questions at the depositions, defendants now request that the Court order that the depositions of Ignoni and Eferusua be resumed and require that plaintiffs answer questions relating to the process for preparing and verifying their interrogatory responses. Plaintiffs provide no argument in opposition, aside from stating that defendants obtained the information requested in the interrogatories at the deposition. The Court finds that this argument is insufficient, as defendants identify many questions in their reply brief that plaintiffs did not answer, and GRANTS defendants' request with respect to Eferusa. However, the Court DENIES the request with for Ingnoni, because plaintiffs have identified responses provided by the witness for each of the outstanding questions claimed by the defendant.*fn3 See June 14, 2005 Letter Brief at 1-2. Therefore, the Court finds that resuming Ignoni's deposition is unnecessary. The Court DENIES defendants' request that the Court require plaintiffs to pay the costs of resuming the depositions.

3. Production of Draft Interrogatory Responses and Verifications

Plaintiffs have informed defendants that there are verifications for earlier drafts of the interrogatory responses of Iteimor, Edekou, and Ikenyan, which were not provided to defendants. Defendants request that the Court order plaintiffs to provide all verifications signed by plaintiffs and the interrogatory responses referred to in those verifications.

The Court DENIES defendants' request, finding that plaintiffs do not need to provide draft verifications. If defendants want Iteimor, Edekou, and Ikenyan to submit verified interrogatory responses now, they can request them from plaintiffs and plaintiffs must provide them. Plaintiffs counsel are also not required to explain why the verified interrogatory responses were not submitted to defendants.

4. Sixth Set of Interrogatory Responses and Fourth Set of Document Production Requests

Plaintiffs ask the Court to relieve them entirely of any duty to respond to these discovery requests, because it creates an undue burden. The Court finds that any burden has been created by plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and their agents; therefore, the Court DENIES plaintiffs' request to be absolved from any requirement to respond. The Court does, however, limit plaintiffs' duty to respond as follows: Plaintiffs are ORDERED to seek answers and verifications from plaintiffs whose deposition testimony revealed possible false or forged discovery responses. If plaintiffs' counsel is aware of any other plaintiffs affected by possible false or forged discovery responses, counsel must also seek answers and verifications from them.

Plaintiffs' additional responses must be provided no later than July 15, 2005.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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