The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS
Plaintiff Ruben Garcia has filed objections to Magistrate Judge Lewis's November 30, 2009 ruling regarding the production of documents in response to Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Production of Documents and Tangible Things, Request No. 8. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's objections are OVERRULED.
Plaintiff alleges that on November 3, 2007, Officer Abel Heredia, a City of Imperial police officer, shot him in the back with a Taser while detaining him for investigation of a minor graffiti charge. (FAC, ¶¶ 14-21.) Plaintiff has brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as tort claims against Officer Heredia and Officer Valenzuela, another officer at the scene. Plaintiff has also brought a Monell claim against the City of Imperial (the "City"), alleging that the City has unlawful customs or practices of (1) improper and inadequate hiring, training, retention, discipline and/or supervision of its police officers; and (2) permitting or condoning the application of excessive force, including the improper use of Tasers. (FAC, ¶¶ 43-49.)
On May 7, 2009, Plaintiff propounded the following document request: "ALL DOCUMENTS sufficient to show how many times YOUR Police officers have employed Tasers in the five years prior to the date of the COMPLAINT." (Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Production of Documents and Tangible Things, Request No. 8 (Ex. A to Egnatios Decl.).) The City initially objected to the request as vague, ambiguous, and overbroad. (Ex. B to Egnatios Decl.) The City also asserted the privacy rights of police officers under California law. (Id.)
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff's counsel initiated the "meet and confer" process regarding Request No. 8. (Ex. C to Egnatios Decl.) Plaintiff's counsel asserted that the Request sought documents directly relevant to Plaintiff's Monell claim. Plaintiff's counsel also argued that the Request was clear and narrowly-tailored and that the requested documents were not protected from disclosure by police officers' right to privacy.
In a letter dated July 24, 2009, counsel for the City wrote:"The City's objections notwithstanding, I have inquired about providing information concerning the number of times its police officers have employed Tasers in the five years prior to November 3, 2007.... If the information can be gathered with a reasonable amount of effort, I will provide it." (Ex. D. to Egnatios Decl.) A couple of months later, counsel for the City informed Plaintiff: "[T]he City's best estimate is that its officers have employed a Taser a total of 28 times over the past five years, which includes the subject incident." (Ex. E to Egnatios Decl.)
Plaintiff's counsel was unsatisfied with the City's response to Request No. 8. Plaintiff's counsel complained that the City had not produced the requested documents "including but not limited to narrative reports and officers' reports of taser use," and asserted that the City's responses were not in the appropriate form with the required verification. (Ex. F to Egnatios Decl.)
In a Supplemental Response to Plaintiff's document requests, the City stated:
Without waiving previously interposed objections, defendant responds: Deriving an accurate figure for the number of times City of Imperial police officers have employed a Taser in the five years prior to November 3, 2007 would require manual retrieval and review of all police department incident reports for that time period, and is therefore unduly burdensome and oppressive. However, the City's best estimate is that its officers utilized their Tasers 28 times in the five year period prior to September of 2009. This includes the tasing of Ruben Garcia and several instances of Taser use occurring after November 3, 2007. (Ex. H to Egnatios Decl.)
On November 17, 2009, Magistrate Judge Lewis held a telephonic discovery conference during which the parties discussed the discovery dispute regarding Request No. 8. (Egnatios Decl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff's counsel agreed to narrow Request No. 8 to the time period between November 3, 2006 (one year before the Incident) and December 19, 2008 (the filing date of the Complaint). Id. Judge Lewis ordered the City to search for documents responsive to Request No. 8 that corresponded to the narrowed time period, to produce the information within the week, and to report back at a further telephonic conference on November 24, 2009. (Egnatios Decl. ¶ 2.)
During the November 24 conference, the City reported that it had uncovered 12 Taser incident reports falling within the narrowed time period. (Egantios Decl. ¶ 3.) However, the City argued that production of the actual reports would implicate privacy and confidentiality issues and proposed production of an "outline" of the 12 tasing incidents instead. (Id.) The City offered to provide the "outline" to the Magistrate Judge for in camera review. (Id.) Plaintiff's counsel argued that the City should have to produce the full incident reports because they directly relate to Plaintiff's Monell claim. (Id.) Plaintiff's counsel also argued that the relevance of the reports outweighed any confidentiality or privacy concerns, especially in light of the protection afforded by the protective order that had already been entered in the case. (Id.) Judge Lewis directed counsel for both sides to file two-page letter briefs by the end of the following day. (Id.)
On November 30, 2009, Judge Lewis ruled that the City was not required to produce the incident reports for the period between November 3, 2006 and December 19, 2008. (Docket # 46.) Judge Lewis determined that the privacy interests of private citizens and of police officers not involved in the litigation outweighed the production of the complete incident reports. Judge Lewis also determined that the "Outline of Tasing Incidents" ("Outline") submitted in camera by the City "addresses Plaintiff's RFP to compel documents sufficient to show how many times Imperial Police officers have employed tasers during the previously ordered time period for production." Judge Lewis ordered the City to produce the Outline to Plaintiff by December 3, 2009. For each Taser incident, the Outline (Ex. K to Egnatios Decl.) sets forth: the date of ...