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Brooks v. Developments

June 13, 2008

GEORGE A. BROOKS; BROOKS INDUSTRIES, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEVELOPMENTS, INC.; GREGG A. MOTSENBOCKER; SKIP A. MOTSENBOCKER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Nita L. Stormes U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S FOURTH MOTION TO COMPEL MOTSENBOCKER ADVANCED [Doc. No. 88]

George Brooks and Brooks Industries, Inc. (Plaintiffs) filed this fourth motion to compel defendant Motsenbocker Advanced Developments, Inc. (MAD) to respond to their third set of Requests for Production of documents (RFPs), and to compel defendants Gregg Motsenbocker and Skip Motsenbocker to respond to their second sets of RFPs. Defendants refused to produce responses to any of the requests based on objections. Plaintiffs narrowed some of the requests, but Defendants still have not produced any responsive documents.

For the following reason, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs' motion to compel.

Telephone Numbers Used.

In RFP no. 54 of Plaintiffs' third request to MAD, Plaintiffs request that MAD provide "all documents containing phone numbers you have used either landline or cellular from April 1997 to April 2006." In RFP no. 1 to Gregg and Skip Motsenbocker, Plaintiffs request "All documents containing telephone numbers you have used either at work at home or cellular from April 1997 to April 2006." Defendants objected to both requests on grounds that the RFPs were overbroad, irrelevant, an unjustified invasion of privileged privacy, unnecessarily called for all of Defendants' phone books, and contained third parties' private identification and contact information for which Plaintiffs failed to provide proper Plaintiffs later limited the request to documents. For RFP no. 54, Plaintiffs request: "Documents showing phone number that MAD has been billed for from April 1997 to April 2006. Further, MAD need not produce all phone bills, just one document for each phone number containing somewhere on it the phone number." Pls.' Ex. E, p.58. For RFP no. 1, Plaintiffs amended the request to say: "Documents showing phone numbers that Gregg & Skip Motsenbocker have been billed for from April 1997 to June 2005. Further, MAD need not produce all phone bills, just one document for each phone number containing somewhere on it the phone number." Pls.' Ex. E, p.58.

While Defendants maintained their original objections to the revised requests, in the opposition--under the express title of "RFP No. 54"--they provide the phone and fax numbers for MAD. In the reply, Plaintiffs state that they no longer seek a response to RFP no. 54. They do argue, however, that because the individual defendants made no argument regarding RFP no. 1, this Court should order them to respond to the amended RFP.

The Court finds amended RFP no. 1 to be overbroad to the extent it calls for phone numbers that were not used to conduct business. Therefore, the Court GRANTS in part Plaintiffs' motion as to RFP no. 1, and orders Gregg Motsenbocker and Skip Motsenbocker to provide, by July 3, 2008, to Plaintiffs any phone numbers they used from April 1997 to April 2006 to conduct business for MAD. The individuals may exclude phone numbers, such as home phone numbers, unless those numbers were used to conduct business.

Travel Records.

In RFP no. 55 to MAD, Plaintiffs request "All travel records including calendars from April 1997 to April 2006." In RFP no. 2 to Gregg and Skip Motsenbocker, Plaintiffs request "All travel records including personal calendars from April 1997 to April 2006." Defendants objected to both requests on grounds that the RFPs were overbroad, irrelevant, an unjustified invasion of privileged privacy, unnecessarily called for Defendants' private and confidential credit information, and contained third parties' private identification and contact information for which Plaintiffs failed to provide proper notice. Plaintiffs then limited the RFPs to seek "All travel records including calendars from April 1997 to June 2005 of George Brooks, Gregg Motsenbocker and Skip Motsenbocker." Defendants maintain their objections.

The party resisting discovery must explain why the discovery is impermissible and has the burden to clarify, explain and support its objections. Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d 418, 429 Cir. 1975). Simply asserting these boilerplate objections is insufficient to meet Defendants' burden of explaining why the RFPs are objectionable. See Bible v. Rio Properties, Inc., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80017, *11 (C.D. Cal. 2007) (citations omitted).

Here, Defendants argue the modified RFPs remain objectionable because the travel reports for Brooks and the Motsenbockers contain the private travel records of individual employees. They also say Plaintiffs' claim that "travel records showing the Defendants were at trade shows were [sic] Mr. Brooks claims to have represented the products would show that Mr. Brooks was indeed a sales representative ... and that Defendants were well aware that Mr. Brooks was acting as a sales representative" is (1) unavailing because it is equally viable that Brooks' presence at the trade shows was to demonstrate his ability to refinish metal with Defendants' products; and (2) irrelevant because Defendants have never denied that Brooks attempted to make sales of Brass Wash, Coating Remover, Lacquer Remover and Finish Coat at trade shows.

Defendants represent that no travel records demonstrate Brooks was ever paid anything but his salary to attend trade shows on MAD's behalf during the eight months he worked for them. Because this information is at least relevant to Defendants' defense, the Court finds the documents sought in Plaintiffs' amended request for travel records to be relevant to the claims at issue here. Therefore, the GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion to compel production of these documents. The Court, however, sustains Defendants' objection regarding protection of the private travel records of individual employees. Defendants shall produce all travel records for Brooks, Gregg Motsenbocker and Skip Motsenbocker, including calendars, from April 1997 to June 2005, by July 3, 2008. Defendants may redact the private or confidential information of any individual employees, Gregg Motsenbocker or Skip Motsenbocker or may produce those documents subject to the protective order.

Requests Relating to Ability to Pay Punitive Damages.

In RFP nos. 58-75 of the third set of requests to MAD, and RFP nos. 3-20 of the second requests to the individual defendants, Plaintiffs seek Defendants' financial records to establish Defendants' ability to pay punitive damages. Defendants object to all the RFPs on the bases that they are overbroad, irrelevant, call for privileged information within Defendants' right to privacy as to a party's confidential affairs, and premature because there has been no finding of liability for punitive damages. Defendants argue the information regarding ...


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