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Lilyan Hassaine and Salim Salahi, (Bgs v. Home Depot U.S.A.

August 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


Plaintiff Lilyan Hassaine has filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's March 30, 2011 Order denying her requests to reopen discovery and remove confidentiality designations under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a).*fn1 [Doc. No. 50.] Defendant Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc. ("Home Depot") filed a response, and the Court thereafter deemed the matter under submission pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. For the reasons stated herein, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's objections to the Magistrate Judge's Order.


Plaintiff alleges on July 29, 2009, she was a business invitee at one of Home Depot's stores, and while shopping she slipped on a puddle of liquid on the floor, fell, and suffered physical injuries. Plaintiff filed this action in San Diego Superior Court, and Home Depot removed the action to federal court based on diversity of citizenship.

On January 11, 2010, the parties filed a joint motion for the Court to enter a stipulated protective order regarding the use and disclosure of confidential information. [Doc. No.13.] On January 13, 2010, the Court granted the parties' joint motion, and entered the Protective Order, which adopted the parties' stipulated terms. [Doc. No. 14.]

On April 27, 2010, the parties filed a joint motion for determination of a discovery dispute before Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler. [Doc. No. 15.] The dispute focused, inter alia, on Plaintiff's request for production numbers 5 and 11, which sought in pertinent part, "all documents relating to . . . customer personal injury accidents inside Home Depot stores nationwide" (request number 5), and "All documents relating to . . . slips, trips, and/or fall type[] accidents occurring at Home Depot stores nationwide over the last five years" (request number 11). [Id, pp. 22, 26.]

Home Depot argued Plaintiff's request for documents was too broad because she did not articulate how her request for information is sufficiently similar to be relevant. [Id, p. 4.] Home Depot also argued Plaintiff's request for "all documents" was unduly burdensome because it would require Home Depot to search for every document located in every one of its 1,800 stores across the nation.

On May 10, 2010, Magistrate Judge Adler issued an order to resolve the parties' dispute: Defendant shall produce responsive documents concerning injuries caused by floor hazards resulting from product spills on inside aisles during the past three years, in accordance with the directives provided by the Court during the May 6, 2010 conference. As discussed at the conference, Defendant need only produce corporate level (i.e., not store-level) or summary-type documents reflecting a collection or amalgamation of data. Defendant need not produce documents reflecting the minutia or details of all personal injury incidents occurring at each of Defendant's stores throughout the country. ["May 10, 2010 Order," Doc. No. 17.]

The case was transferred to Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal on June 4, 2010. Thereafter, the parties filed another joint motion for determination of discovery dispute. [Doc. No. 22.] Plaintiff argued Home Depot did not comply with the May 10, 2010 Order, and the Court should require Home Depot to produce additional documents.

On October 1, 2010, the Court held a discovery hearing. The Court ruled Defendant complied with the May 10, 2010 Order, and did not need to produce additional documents. Fact discovery concluded on November 19, 2010. [See Doc. No. 26.]

A. The Disputed Discovery

On January 12, 2011, the parties jointly contacted the Magistrate Judge's chambers to inform the Court they had another discovery dispute. The Magistrate Judge determined the discovery dispute should be addressed after the mandatory settlement conference, which was set for January 27, 2011. The Magistrate Judge held the conference, and the case did not settle. Thereafter, Plaintiff's counsel contacted the Magistrate Judge's chambers on March 3, 2011, to re-raise the discovery dispute.

On March 10, 2011, the Magistrate Judge ordered the parties each to file a four-page supplemental brief. Plaintiff argued discovery should be reopened so that she could obtain additional data and take additional deposition testimony. Plaintiff averred discovery should be reopened because Home Depot did not properly disclose, under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 16 and 26, that they maintain a claims database from which accident information could be easily produced. [Doc. No. 43, p.4.; Doc. No. 43-1, ¶ 6.] She argued that if Home Depot properly disclosed the database in 2009, then Magistrate Judge Adler's May 10, 2010 Order would not have imposed such stringent limitations on her requests for documents numbers 5 and 11. Plaintiff argued she only learned of the database shortly before October 2010, and that the substance of the database was revealed during the deposition of Monica Patterson, Home Depot's corporate counsel and person most knowledgeable designee under Rule 30(b)(6). [Doc. No. 43-1 ¶ 10.]

Plaintiff seeks the following additional discovery: (1) data regarding slip and fall incidents, including employee incidents, due to all floor hazards in inside aisles at Home Depot stores for the last five years; (2) data reflecting the number of liquid spill incidents in inside aisle floors of Home Depot stores for the last five years, including employee incidents; and (3) additional testimony from Monica Patterson regarding the data production. Plaintiff also requested the Court to issue an order preventing ...

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