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Fair Housing Council of Central California, Inc., et al v. Henry D. Nunez

June 24, 2011

FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL OF CENTRAL CALIFORNIA, INC., ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
HENRY D. NUNEZ, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

(Documents 17, 18, 19 and 22)

Plaintiffs Fair Housing Council of Central California, Inc., Nelida Mendiola, Martha Lemos and Maria Nava ("Plaintiffs") filed the instant motion to compel responses to document requests served on Defendant Henry Nunez. The matter was heard on June 24, 2011, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. Elizabeth Brancart appeared telephonically on behalf of Plaintiffs. Daniel Harralson appeared on behalf of Defendant Henry Nunez. Mr. Nunez appeared on behalf of Defendant Minnie Avila.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Nelida Mendiola, Martha Lemos and Maria Nava are current or former tenants of the Cypress Estates apartment complex ("Cypress Estates"). These tenants complained of discrimination at Cypress Estates to Plaintiff Fair Housing Council of Central California, a nonprofit corporation ensuring compliance with fair housing laws throughout the Central Valley. Complaint, ¶¶ 4-7.

Defendant Henry Nunez controls the management of Cypress Estates and its onsite manager, Defendant Minnie Avila. Complaint, ¶¶ 8-9. Cypress Estates claims to be a housing complex for older persons under the Housing for Older Persons Act ("HOPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3607(b)(2).

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants enforced unreasonable and discriminatory rules against them and their children, served them with eviction notices because of their protected familial status, and made derogatory statements about their national origin that interfered with the enjoyment of their tenancy. Complaint, ¶¶ 12-22. Plaintiffs assert violations of the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.), the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code §§ 12955,et seq.), the California Civil Code § 1714, Civil Code §§ 1927 and 1940.2, Civil Code §§ 44 through 46, and California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1159 and 1160. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages, including punitive damages, along with declaratory and injunctive relief.

Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to compel on April 21, 2011, but continued the hearing several times. Plaintiffs seek to compel Defendant Nunez to provide responses to specific document requests served on February 18, 2011. The parties filed a Joint Statement of Discovery Dispute on June 10, 2011. Subsequently, on June 22 and 23, 2011, Defendants filed an additional opposition and supporting declarations regarding the motion to compel.

DISCUSSION

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identify and location of person who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

The document requests at issue concern three categories: (1) tenant records; (2) compliance with Housing for Older Persons Act ("HOPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3607(b)(2); and (3) financial information.

A. Tenant Records

1. Plaintiffs' Requests 1, 2, 4 and 19

Request Number 1: A complete copy of all files regarding tenants or residents, including the file covers, as kept in the ordinary course of business that are or were maintained regarding each tenant or resident who has resided at the Cypress Estates apartment complex at any time since January 1, 2006, including a copy of all leases or rental agreements, applications, notices, rent receipts, security deposit refunds, eviction documents, complaints, notes, and communications.

Request Number 2: A complete copy of all files regarding past tenants or residents, including the file covers, as kept in the ordinary course of business, regarding every tenant who has vacated a dwelling unit at the Cypress Estates apartment complex at any time since January 1, 2006, including documents that ...


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