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Dagdagan v. City of Vallejo

January 28, 2010

MACARIO BELEN DAGDAGAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF VALLEJO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION

On December 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed a request for reconsideration of the magistrate judge's order filed on December 15, 2009, in which Plaintiff's motion to compel the City of Vallejo (the "City") to produce certain internal affairs complaints and to compel the City's "Rule 30(b)(6)" witness to answer certain deposition questions was denied. (Docket No. 56.) The City did not file a timely opposition.*fn1 For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion to compel is GRANTED AND DENIED IN PART.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

As stated in Coleman v. Schwarzenegger,

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) provides that non-dispositive pretrial matters may be decided by a magistrate judge, subject to reconsideration by the district judge. The district judge shall, upon reconsideration, modify or set aside any part of the magistrate judge's order which is 'found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law.'

Discovery motions are non-dispositive pretrial motions within the scope of Rule 72(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), and thus subject to the 'clearly erroneous or contrary to law' standard of review."

No. CIV S-90-0520 LKK JFM P, 2008 WL 2468492, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 17, 2008); see also E.D. Cal. R. 303(c). "The 'clearly erroneous' standard applies to the magistrate judge's findings of fact [while] legal conclusions are freely reviewable de novo to determine whether they are contrary to law." Wolphin v. Philip Morris, Inc., 189 F.R.D. 418, 421 (C.D. Cal. 1999). A ruling is "contrary to law" "when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." Martin v. Woodford, No. CV F 08-415 LJO DLB PC, 2009 WL 3841868, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 17, 2009)(quotations and citations omitted). The party requesting reconsideration must "specifically designate the ruling, or part thereof, objected to and the basis for that objection." E.D. Cal. R. 303(c).

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges in his first amended complaint that Vallejo police officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they entered his apartment without a warrant, woke him up while he was in bed asleep, questioned him, arrested him, and employed excessive force in effectuating the arrest. (First Amended Compl. ("FAC") ¶¶ 10, 28.) Plaintiff also alleges state law claims of trespass, battery, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and violation of California Civil Code section 52.1 against the individual officers. (FAC ¶¶ 33-50.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges the City is liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for "fail[ing] to maintain adequate policies or conduct adequate training to prevent violations of the Fourth Amendment" and for being "deliberately indifferent to the demonstrated propensity of [defendant police officers] to violate the constitutional rights of citizens . . . ." (FAC ¶ 31.)

On October 27, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 to compel the City to produce certain internal affairs complaints and to compel Sergeant Miller to provide responses to certain deposition questions. A joint statement was filed on November 2, 2009, outlining the parties' discovery disputes. The magistrate judge heard Plaintiff's motion on November 5, 2009, issued a summary order on November 6, 2009, granting and denying in part Plaintiff's motion, and explained and confirmed that ruling in an order filed on December 15, 2009.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Production of the Internal Affairs Complaints

Plaintiff requests reconsideration of his motion to compel a response to production "Request 22." Plaintiff originally sought in this request, an order compelling the City to produce "[a]ll complaints filed with the internal affairs division of the Vallejo Police Department in the five years preceding the incident [with Plaintiff,] alleging that officers of the Vallejo Police Department utilized excessive force or unlawfully entered a residence." (Mot. to Compel 11:7-11.) The magistrate judge issued an order on November 6, 2009, instructing the parties:

Within fourteen days . . . ., [P]laintiff shall be allowed to view Internal Affairs Division complaints filed in the last two (2) years. Plaintiff shall designate the cases he wants produced. Within five days after plaintiff has designated these cases, defendant shall provide the court with the complaint case files for an in camera review. Plaintiff shall make no copies, take no notes, and not contact ...


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