The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR REVIEW OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER FILED FEBRUARY 25, 2010 [Motion filed on March 11, 2010]
This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Review of Magistrate Judge's Order Filed February 25, 2010, filed by the defendant Chase Bank U.S.A., N.A. ("Chase"). After reviewing the papers submitted by the parties and considering the arguments therein, the Court denies the motion and adopts the following Order.
The plaintiff Gary Davis ("Plaintiff") filed this putative class action against Chase on behalf of cardholders of the Chase Circuit City Rewards Card, alleging that Chase used fraudulent and unfair business practices to charge cardholders finance charges in connection with their Circuit City purchases.
On January 21, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel, seeking the names and contact information of 1,200 putative class members out of 402,000 whom Chase has admitted it can identify. In addition, the motion to compel sought a sampling of the documents Chase used to identify these potential class members.
On February 25, 2010, Magistrate Judge Walsh issued a minute order granting Plaintiff's motion. The minute order directed Chase to produce discovery relating to a sampling of 1,200 potential class members, including the names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and billing records for at least 150 cardholders for each year from 2002 through 2010, subject to the stipulated protective order previously entered. It also directed Chase to submit a declaration setting forth how the 1,200 cardholders were selected. Finally, it provided that after Chase's production of this information, Plaintiff would use a third-party administrator to contact the putative class members to provide them the option to opt out of being contacted by Plaintiff's counsel.
Chase filed this motion challenging Magistrate Judge Walsh's Order on March 11, 2010. Chase argues that the underlying order impinges on cardholders' privacy, misapplies California law, and erroneously provides for an opt-out rather than opt-in procedure for contacting putative class members. In addition, Chase argues that the documents at issue are not relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Plaintiff filed an opposition on March 22, 2010.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) govern the authority of magistrate judges to enter non-dispositive discovery orders and the review of those orders. Grimes v. City and County of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 240 (9th Cir. 1991). Section 636(b)(1)(A) provides that a district court judge "may reconsider any pretrial matter . . . where it has been shown that the magistrate's order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law." 28 U.S.C. § 636 (2005); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a) ("The district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the [nondispositive] order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.").
"The 'clearly erroneous' standard applies to the magistrate judge's factual determinations and discretionary decisions . . . ." Computer Econ., Inc. v. Gartner Group, Inc., 50 F. Supp. 2d 980, 983 (S.D. Cal. 1999). "Under this standard, the district court can overturn the magistrate judge's ruling only if the district court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The "contrary to law" standard, on the other hand, "applies to the magistrate judge's legal conclusions, which are reviewed de novo." China Nat'l Metal Prods. Import/ Export Co. v. Apex Digital, Inc., 155 F. Supp. 2d 1174, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2001).
Chase argues that the magistrate judge's Order misapplies California law and compromises cardholders' privacy rights. As an initial matter, the Court notes that Chase has standing to assert the privacy interests of its cardholders' in the identifying information they gave to Chase on credit card applications. Pioneer Elecs. (USA), Inc. v. Super. Ct., 150 P.3d 198, 202 (Cal. 2007); see also Valley Bank of Nev. v. Super. Ct., 542 P.2d 977, 980 (Cal. 1975).
In Hill v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 865 P.2d 633, 654-55 (Cal. 1994), the California Supreme Court "set forth in detail the analytic framework for assessing claims of invasion of privacy under the state Constitution." Pioneer, 150 P.3d at 204. First, the claimant must establish that he possesses a "'legally protected privacy interest.'" Id. (quoting Hill, 865 P.2d at 654). Second, the claimant "must possess a reasonable expectation of privacy under the particular circumstances, including 'customs, practices, and physical settings surrounding particular activities.'" Id. (quoting Hill, 865 P.2d at 654). Third, "the invasion of privacy complained of must be 'serious' in nature, scope, and actual or potential impact to constitute an 'egregious' breach of social norms, for trivial invasions afford no cause of action." Id. (quoting Hill, 865 P.2d at 655). Finally, "[a]ssuming that ...