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Nathan Hansford v. Solano County Department of Health and Human Services*Fn1

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


June 17, 2011

NATHAN HANSFORD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SOLANO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES*FN1 AND DOES ONE THROUGH FIFTY, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

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

ORDER

Three discovery-related motions are presently before the court*fn2 : (1) plaintiff's motion to compel responses to his first set of interrogatories and requests for production of documents, to which defendant failed to provide responses for over one year (Dkt. No. 30);

(2) defendant's motion to withdraw its deemed admissions to plaintiffs' first and second set of requests for admissions, which resulted from defendant's failure to respond to plaintiffs' discovery for over one year (Dkt. No. 32); and (3) defendant's motion for a protective order, which seeks an order protecting defendant from responding to plaintiff's requests for production numbered 34 through 39, interrogatories numbered 13 through 15, and request for admission number 15 (Dkt. No. 39). Also before the court are the parties' respective requests for the award of discovery-related expenses and/or sanctions. The undersigned heard this matter on its law and motion calendar on June 16, 2011. (Minutes, Dkt. No. 59.) Attorney Wendy E. Musell appeared on behalf of plaintiffs. Attorney Peter D. Halloran appeared on behalf of defendant.

In consideration of the parties' voluminous filings and for the reasons stated on the record at the June 16, 2011 hearing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's motion to compel (Dkt. No. 30) is granted, and defendant is deemed to have waived its objections to plaintiff's first set of interrogatories and requests for production of documents, except as described below in regards to defendant's motion for protective order. Within 30 days of the date of this order, defendant shall serve amended responses to plaintiff's first set of interrogatories and requests for production of documents without objections except as described below, and shall also produce documents and other materials that are responsive to plaintiff's interrogatories and requests for production, except as narrowed below.

2. In regards to plaintiff's motion to compel, plaintiff's request for the award of reasonable expenses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(5) is granted. Defendant only responded to plaintiff's first set of interrogatories and requests for production after plaintiff was forced to file a motion to compel. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(5) ("If the motion [to compel] is granted-or if the disclosure or requested discovery is provided after the motion was filed-the court must, after giving an opportunity to be heard, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion, including attorney's fees. "). In consideration of plaintiff's counsel's declarations in support of plaintiff's motion to compel, plaintiff is awarded $2,520 as reasonable expenses pursuant to Rule 37(a)(5).*fn3 Defendant shall pay the award directly to plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel within 45 days of the date of this order and notify the court in writing within seven days of such payment.

3. Defendant's motion to withdraw its deemed admissions (Dkt. No. 32) is granted. Defendant's responses to plaintiff's first and second set of requests for admissions, served on or around May 18, 2011, are deemed timely served. As discussed more fully at the hearing, plaintiff may file a subsequent motion for the award of reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees and costs, incurred as a result of plaintiff's legitimate need to "redo" discovery as a direct result of the withdrawal of defendant's deemed admissions. As the undersigned indicated at the hearing, any such request will be heavily scrutinized by the court, and plaintiff should only seek this relief if he has a good faith basis to do so. Any abuse of this provision may result in the imposition of sanctions against plaintiff and his counsel.

4. Defendant's motion for a protective order (Dkt. No. 39) is granted in part and denied in part. Specifically:

a. Defendant shall respond and produce personnel-related documents and other materials requested in plaintiff's requests for production numbered 34 through 39, except that defendant shall be permitted to redact any home address information, and any health, tax, credit, and social security related information pertaining to the subject of the personnel file. Defendant's production shall be made pursuant to the parties' "Stipulation and Proposed Order" protecting personnel documents, which was previously executed by the parties and approved by the court on July 1, 2009. (Stip. & Proposed Order, July 1, 2009, Dkt. No. 19.) To the extent necessary, the parties may also enter into a further stipulated protective order and seek approval of the same pursuant to Local Rule 141.1.

b. Defendant has no obligation to further respond to plaintiff's request for admission number 15. This protection is subject to re-visitation by the court on a good-faith motion brought by plaintiff.

c. Defendant shall respond to plaintiff's interrogatories numbered 13 through 15 as narrowed here.*fn4 Defendant's amended responses to plaintiff's interrogatories 13 through 15 shall provide plaintiff with: (1) the identities of those employees within Solano County's Department of Health and Social Services who were granted flexible work schedules;

(2) the nature of the flexible work schedule; and (3) the general reason for the accommodation, without the disclosure of any individual's specific religious belief if a religious belief served as the basis for the work schedule accommodation. Defendant's responses shall encompass the time period of October 20, 2004, through the end of the year 2010. Defendant's production shall be made pursuant to the parties' Stipulation and Proposed Order approved by the court on July 1, 2009. However, to the extent that the parties' stipulated protective order only applies to document productions and not responses to interrogatories, the parties may enter into a further stipulated protective order and seek approval of the same pursuant to Local Rule 141.1.

5. Plaintiff's and defendant's respective requests for an award of expenses and/or sanctions in connection with defendant's motion for a protective order are denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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