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Newson v. Wal-Mart Stores

August 22, 2010

WAYNE ELDERWIN NEWSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO QUASH OR LIMIT DEPOSITION SUBPOENA ORDER MODIFYING SUBPOENA ISSUED MAY 26, 2010 ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS (Docs. 58-59 & 66-68)

On June 15, 2010, Plaintiff, appearing pro se, filed a motion to quash or limit a deposition subpoena directed to his previous employer, seeking employment records. (See Docs. 58-59.) On June 16, 2010, this Court set the motion for hearing on July 23, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 10. (Doc. 61.) On July 6, 2010, Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. filed its opposition to Plaintiff's motion. (Doc. 64.)

On July 20, 2010, this Court determined the matter was suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). Therefore, the matter was taken off calendar and submitted for written decision. (Doc. 65.)

On July 22, 2010, Plaintiff filed an "amended" motion and supporting documents, as well as a request for monetary sanctions. (Docs. 66-68.) This Court construes both the "amended" motion and "amended" separate statement of issues to be Plaintiff's reply to Defendant's opposition.

For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs motion to quash or limit the deposition is GRANTED IN PART and the subpoena issued May 26, 2010, is MODIFIED. Additionally, Plaintiff's request for monetary sanctions is DENIED.

DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Quash the Deposition Subpoena

1. The Parties' Positions

Plaintiff has filed a number of documents relating to his efforts to quash or limit the deposition subpoena directed by Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to the University of California at Santa Cruz ("UCSC"). In large part, Plaintiff relies upon California statutory authority in support of his argument that his personnel file maintained by the UCSC "antedates the commencement of this civil action by a span of more then [sic] 13 years and is not a relevant issue in this litigation." (Doc. 58 at 3, emphasis in original.) Plaintiff asserts the subpoena amounts to "an unwarranted invasion of Plaintiff's privacy" and that the subpoena fails to adequately describe the documents demanded therein. (Doc. 58 at 4-6.) In his separate statement of issues, Plaintiff further contends his employment records with the UCSC are not discoverable because he has a constitutional right to privacy pursuant to Article 1 of the California Constitution, and because the information "is irrelevant" to this litigation. (Doc. 59.)

Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion. Defendant explains it issued the subpoena for Plaintiff's employment records with the UCSC following Plaintiff's deposition testimony wherein Plaintiff indicated he was employed there from January 25, 2010, to February 5, 2010. Plaintiff testified that his employment with UCSC was terminated because he failed to disclose criminal history information on his employment application. (Doc. 64 at 2.)

The May 11, 2010, subpoena requested as follows:

Any and all records, including, but not limited to, employment records, background checks, wage records, personnel records, attendance records, employment applications, W-2's, W-4's, contracts, 1099's, resumes, payroll records, vacation schedule, sick leave, benefits, evaluations and any other records, including, but not limited to any employment of Wayne Newson . . ..

(Doc. 64, Patel Decl., Ex. A.) Unbeknownst to counsel for Defendant, the company it employed to subpoena these records, US Legal Support, Inc., issued an amended subpoena on May 26, 2010, that differed from the original subpoena; it requested "Any and all records and documents pertaining to Wayne Newson." (See Doc. 64, Patel Decl., Exs. B & C.) In response to a June 10, 2010, email objection by Plaintiff*fn1 and request to exclude documents regarding his criminal background from the May 26, 2010, subpoena, defense counsel advised Plaintiff, via email the following day, of her intention to withdraw the amended subpoena. (Doc. 64 at 3.) Defense counsel however was unable to withdraw the amended subpoena in favor of the original subpoena, and thus, on June 16, 2010, counsel advised Plaintiff in an email that Defendant would "not limit its subpoena and explained that it was entitled to documents from the criminal ...


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