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Watts v. All State Indemnity Co.

July 29, 2010

ROBERT WATTS, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF INDIVIDUALLY AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALL STATE INDEMNITY CO., AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Presently before this court is defendants Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company and Allstate Property & Casualty Company (collectively "Defendants" or "Allstate")'s motion to compel production of seatbelts, seatbelt components and seatbelt parts from plaintiff Robert Watts ("plaintiff")'s 2005 Honda Civic, which he contends required replacement as a result of a March 29, 2006 automobile accident. The parties appeared before the undersigned for oral argument on July 29, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Attorney Sonia Martin appeared on behalf of Allstate. Attorney Wendy York appeared on behalf of plaintiff. After careful consideration of all of the papers filed in support of and in opposition to this motion, the authorities cited therein, and following oral argument, this motion will be granted for the reasons stated at the hearing and as set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff Robert Watts allegedly had an automobile insurance policy with one or more of the defendants. (Dkt. No. 79.) His car was involved in an automobile accident, after which he requested that Allstate replace the seatbelts and associated mechanisms. (Id.) Defendants allegedly refused to pay for these costs or to engage in related accommodating actions. Plaintiff then filed a putative class action against Allstate. (Id., Dkt. No. 67.) The operative pleading is plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed April 20, 2009, save for the sixth cause of action which this court dismissed on July 1, 2009. (Dkt. Nos. 67, 79.) The putative class action complaint asserts claims for relief for breach of contract, insurance bad faith, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud and/or misrepresentation and unfair competition.

Following a status conference on January 22, 2009, the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton, Senior Judge for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, ordered that all discovery in this action was stayed except that "pertaining to class certification." (Dkt. No. 59.) However, in a subsequent order, Judge Karlton vacated the January 22 Scheduling Order. He further ordered that "the parties SHALL proceed with discovery related to class certification . . . ." (Dkt. No. 130.)*fn1 Following the issuance of this order, nine months elapsed with no other activity in this case. Accordingly, Judge Karlton set this matter for a status conference on July 26, 2010, by order dated June 11, 2010. (Dkt. No. 132.) On June 28, 2010, Allstate filed the instant motion to compel production. (Dkt. Nos. 133, 134.)

B. Discovery Dispute

Defendants served a fourth request for production on August 12, 2009. (Dkt. No. 133 at 1.) That request sought production of:

ALL seatbelts, seatbelt components, AND seatbelt parts that were in YOUR 2005 Honda Civic on March 29, 2006, which YOU contend needed to be inspected, repaired OR replaced as a result of the March 29, 2006 accident.

(Dkt. No. 133 at 13.)

On September 10, 2009, plaintiff objected to this request based on relevance, attorney-client privilege and attorney work product, and refused to produce the seatbelts.*fn2 (Dkt. No. 133 at 18.) Counsel met and conferred telephonically on September 11, 2009. (Dkt. No. 133 at 8.) The parties were unable to resolve their dispute. On September 22, 2009, Allstate's counsel sent plaintiff's counsel a proposed joint statement regarding this discovery dispute. (Dkt. No. 133 at 23.) Plaintiff's counsel did not respond.

Nine months later, Allstate's counsel again sent plaintiff's counsel the proposed joint statement and requested a response by June 25, 2010. (Dkt. No. 133 at 30-31.) Plaintiff's counsel did not respond by that date.*fn3 Allstate filed this motion on June 28, 2010. (Dkt. No. 133.)

II. MOTION TO ...


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