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Pittman v. County of San Diego

November 3, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. William V. Gallo U.S. Magistrate Judge


Pending before the Court is defendant, County of San Diego's ("County"), motion for reconsideration (Doc. No. 26) of the Court's order compelling production of documents (Doc. No. 23). Specifically, the County objects to the Court's determination that documents bearing Bates numbers Sheriff 0001832-0001845 and Sheriff 0001851-0001870 are not protected by the attorney-client privilege or work-product doctrine. After considering new facts the County presented for the first time here, the Court GRANTS the motion.


County Counsel is charged with representing the County and its various subdivisions and departments in all legal affairs.

County Counsel's role includes primary responsibility for investigating administrative claims for damages against the County.

Plaintiffs in this case tendered a claim that arose from their confrontation with San Diego Sheriff Deputies on the evening of October 19, 2008. County Counsel received and handled the evaluation and disposition of the claim.

On February 20, 2009, a non-attorney, Mary Ann Wiggs of the County Counsel's Claims Division, sent the Sheriff's Department a request for the Sheriff's "comments" on the claim. (Bates Nos. Sheriff 001844-45.) The letter advised the Sheriff to mark his response as "Attorney Client Communication" and advised that "[a]ny investigative efforts you now take and your analysis of the facts are in anticipation of litigation." (Id.)

On February 25, 2009, Lieutenant Margaret Sanfilippo of the Sheriff's Division of Inspectional Services forwarded the request to the Commander and Captain in charge of the Sheriff's Lemon Grove substation for their "recommendation regarding settlement." (Bates No. Sheriff 001843.)

On March 19, 2009, the Sergeant assigned to review the matter and make a recommendation completed and submitted a highly detailed report that included the Sergeant's evaluation of the underlying incident and recommendation regarding the outcome of the plaintiffs' claim. (Bates Nos. Sheriff 001840-42, Sheriff 001851-71.)

On March 24, 2009, Lieutenant Sanfilippo wrote Ms. Wiggs and made a recommendation regarding the Pittmans' claim. (Bates No. Sheriff 001835.)

On March 30, 2009, Ms. Wiggs sent an e-mail requesting Joseph Pittman's full medical records on a compact disc. (Bates No. Sheriff 001833.)

On April 1, 2009, Lieutenant Sanfilippo forwarded Ms. Wiggs's request to the Sheriff's Medical Services Division. (Bates No. Sheriff 001832.)

On April 14, 2009, a Sheriff's Detentions Supervising Nurse prepared a very superficial report of Mr. Pittman's medical treatment in jail. (Bates Nos. Sheriff 001836-39.)

On April 15, 2009, the Division of Inspectional Services forwarded the medical report to Ms. Wiggs. (Bates No. Sheriff 001834.)

The lead or title document in each submission was marked either "Confidential," "Attorney Client Confidential," or "Attorney Client Communication."


A. Motions For Reconsideration

The Court has discretion to reconsider interlocutory orders at any time prior to final judgment. Hydranautics v. Filmtec Corp., 306 F. Supp. 2d 958, 968 (S.D. Cal. 2003); Washington v. Garcia, 977 F. Supp. 1067, 1069 (S.D. Cal. 1997); Cal. v. Summer Del Caribe, Inc., 821 F. Supp. 574, 577 (N.D. Cal. 1993) (citations omitted). "Such motions may be justified on the basis of an intervening change in the law, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Cal., 821 F. Supp. at 577 (citing Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Indians v. Hodel, 882 F.2d 364, 369 n.5 (9th Cir. 1989)). "To succeed in a motion to reconsider, a party must set forth facts or law of a strongly convinc- ing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior decision." Id. (citations omitted).

As the Fifth Circuit explained, "the trial court is free to reconsider and reverse its decision for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or clarification of the substantive law." McKethan v. Tex. Farm Bureau, 996 F.2d 734, 738 n.6 (5th Cir. 1993) (quoting Lavespere v. Niagara Mach. & Tool Works, Inc., 910 F.2d 167, 185 (5th Cir. 1990)). Ultimately, the decision on a motion for reconsideration lies in the Court's sound discretion. Navajo ...

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