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Tumbling v. Merced Irrigation District

July 14, 2009

LAMONTE TUMBLING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MERCED IRRIGATION DISTRICT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL (Document 22)

Defendant Merced Irrigation District ("Defendant") filed the instant discovery motion on June 19, 2009. The matter was heard on July 10, 2009, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. Matthew Racine appeared on behalf of Defendant. Lawrence D. Murray appeared on behalf of Plaintiff LaMonte Tumbling ("Plaintiff").

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed the instant employment discrimination action on November 21, 2008. The complaint states causes of action under Title VII, California's Fair Housing and Employment Act and other federal and state statutes based mainly on allegations of race and gender discrimination.

Defendant served its Request for Inspection of Documents on April 2, 2009. Plaintiff did not respond, or request additional time, prior to the response due date of May 5, 2009. In a letter dated May 14, 2009, Defendant's counsel advised Plaintiff's counsel that he had not received a response. On May 18, 2009, Plaintiff served his response.

On June 19, 2009, Defendant filed the instant motion to compel responses. Defendant also requests the imposition of sanctions.

During the meet and confer efforts that followed, and based on Plaintiff's Amended Responses served on June 29, 2009, the parties were able to resolve all issues related to the 76 requests except for responses claiming the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine.

The parties' joint statement was filed on July 7, 2009.

DISCUSSION

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the claim or defense of any party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter.... The information sought need not be admissible at trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

In federal question cases such as this, privileges asserted in response to discovery requests are determined under federal law, not the law of the forum state. Fed.R.Evid. 501; United States v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554, 562 (1989).

A. Plaintiff's Hard Drive

Request Number 68 requests Plaintiff's "computer, hard drive and any other electronic storage media in your possession, custody or control used by you to send and receive e-mail, or store any electronic information related to the allegations in your complaint." Plaintiff objected to the request based on the attorney-client privilege, work-product doctrine and the spousal communication privilege.

When questioned at the hearing, Defendant explained that it hoped to determine whether Plaintiff sent a specific e-mail from the e-mail address "midwatchdog@hotmail.com." Defendant admitted, however, that it had not yet exhausted less ...


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