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Womack v. Metropolitan Transit System

May 26, 2010

ROBERT C. WOMACK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
METROPOLITAN TRANSIT SYSTEM, ET AL, PAUL JABLONSKI, WAYNE TERRY, MARY JANE GREENLAND, SAN DIEGO TROLLEY INC., ET AL., WILLIAM BURKE, LARRY SAVOY, FRANK AMEZCUA, LEN PARHAM, DAVE ADAMS, TERRANCE JOSEPH, TRANSIT ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES [Doc. No. 26]

Plaintiff Robert Womack, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against his former employer, defendants San Diego Trolley, Inc. (SDTI) and its parent company Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), for various alleged civil rights and other violations. Plaintiff served discovery on Defendants, including requests for production of documents (RFPs), set one. On April 14, 2010, Defendants responded to Plaintiff's RFPs, set one. On May 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed this "Motion to Compel San Diego Trolley, Inc. Second Request for Production of Documents, Set Two." In the motion, Plaintiff attaches an "Exhibit A" that lists a series of RFPs. Plaintiff also attaches Defendants' responses to Plaintiff's RFPs, set one. Some of the RFPs in set one are similar to the RFPs listed in "Exhibit A," but the two lists of RFPs are not identical. For purposes of deciding this motion, the court deems it a motion to compel further responses to Plaintiff's RFPs, set one, and disregards the RFPs listed in "Exhibit A" because that list of RFPs was never apparently served.

Defendant opposes the motion to compel for procedural and substantive reasons. First, Plaintiff failed to meet and confer. Second, Defendants argue that Plaintiff failed to identify why the requested information is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and why Defendants' objections should be overruled. Based on Plaintiff's failure to initiate a meet and confer, Defendants request an award of attorney's fees under Rule 37. Plaintiff filed a reply.

The court finds this matter suitable for decision without oral argument under Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to compel further responses to RFPs, set one. The court also DENIES Defendants' request for attorney's fees.

Meet and Confer Requirement.

Civil Local Rule 26.1 requires counsel and self-represented parties to personally meet and confer before bringing any discovery dispute to the court's attention. Here, Plaintiff did not attempt to meet and confer, so that Defendants did not know of Plaintiff's issues with their responses until the filing of this motion. While the court would ordinarily deny the motion without prejudice for failure to comply with this requirement, because the court finds that Defendants' objections have merit, in the interest of judicial efficiency and economy, the court adjudicates this motion on the merits.

To ensure that the parties follow the meet and confer requirements for any future discovery disputes, the court amends paragraph 6 of the February 22, 2010 Scheduling Order to read as follows:

All discovery, including experts, shall be completed by all parties on or before September 20, 2010. "Completed" means that all discovery under Rules 30-36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and discovery subpoenas under Rule 45, must be initiated a sufficient period of time in advance of the cut-off date, so that it may be completed by the cut-off date, taking into account the times for service, notice and response as set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Counsel shall promptly and in good faith meet and confer with regard to all discovery disputes in compliance with Local Rule 26.1(a). The Court expects counsel to make every effort to resolve all disputes without court intervention through the meet and confer process. If the parties reach an impasse on any discovery issue, counsel shall, within forty-five (45) days of the date upon which the initial event giving rise to the dispute occurred, file a joint statement entitled, "Joint Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute" with the Court (see attached "Chambers' Rules" on Discovery Disputes).

RFPs At Issue.

Plaintiff generally argues that the court should grant his motion to compel because Plaintiff has the right to examine the documents he requests, they are admissible as evidence, and that Defendants' refusal to produce the documents demonstrates they "are and have been conspiring to defraud not only the plaintiff but the court as well" and that they will prove Plaintiff's innocence. Mem. Ps&As, p.7. Plaintiff, however, did not identify the specific RFPs for which he requests a further response. The court must assume that Plaintiff intends to challenge each response where Defendants refused to produce documents. Here, Defendants agreed to produce all documents response to RFP nos. 1-4, and refused to produce documents in response to RFP nos. 5-7.

A. RFP No. 5: All and/or complete daily activity logs filled out by Robert C. Womack ID #10656, for the years of 2006 and 2007.

Defendants refuse to produce these documents on the basis the request is overbroad, burdensome, harassing and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Plaintiff argues the activity logs will show where he was working when the complaint was filed. Reply ¶ 5. He also says the activity logs he wrote as well as the logs of each code compliance inspector "will show a pattern that the defendants go to [order] their employee[s] to lie and be dishonest." Id.

The Federal Rules allow for broad discovery in civil actions: "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party. . . . Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). This provision is liberally construed to provide wide-ranging discovery of information necessary for parties to evaluate and resolve their dispute. Oakes v. Halvorsen Marine Ltd.,179 F.R.D. 281, 283 (C.D. Cal. 1995). The party seeking to compel discovery has the burden of establishing that its request satisfies the relevancy requirements of Rule 26(b)(1). Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 610 (N.D. Cal. 1995). In turn, the party opposing discovery has the burden of showing that discovery should not be allowed, and also has the burden of clarifying, explaining and supporting its objections. DirectTV, Inc. V. Trone, 209 F.R.D. 455, 458 (C.D. Cal. 2002); Oakes, 179 F.R.D. at 283.

Here, Plaintiff asks for his daily work logs that cover a period of two years. Defendants explain that this lawsuit stems from Plaintiff's termination from SDTI, which terminated him for repeatedly lying to his employer and for falsely impersonating a San Diego Police Officer. Burke Decl. ¶ 2; Betts Decl. ¶ 3. By bringing this case Plaintiff seeks "a letter of total exoneration" regarding his employment. Reply, p.3, ¶ 1. Defendants argue that the information contained in two years worth of daily work logs ...


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