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Fair Housing Council of Central California v. Henry D. Nunez

November 2, 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 GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL FINANCIAL INFORMATION DISCOVERY (Documents 22 and 30) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT HENRY NUNEZ TO RESPOND TO DISCOVERY (Document 29)

Plaintiffs Fair Housing Council of Central California, Inc., Nelida Mendiola, Martha Lemos and Maria Nava ("Plaintiffs") filed the instant motions to compel responses to document requests and to compel financial information discovery from Defendant Henry Nunez. The matter was heard on October 21, 2011, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. Elizabeth Brancart and Christopher Brancart appeared telephonically on behalf of Plaintiffs. Daniel Harralson appeared on behalf of Defendant Henry Nunez. Defendant Nunez also appeared.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Nelida Mendiola, Martha Lemos and Maria Nava are current or former tenants of the Cypress Estates apartment complex ("Cypress Estates"), each of whom resided there with minor children. Defendant Henry Nunez controls the management of Cypress Estates. 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 and other residents complained of discrimination at Cypress Estates to the Fair Housing Council of Central California, a nonprofit corporation ensuring compliance with fair housing laws throughout the Central Valley. Complaint, ¶¶ 4-7. 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, 1927, 1940.2, 44-46, and the California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1159 and 1160. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages, including punitive damages, along with declaratory and injunctive relief.

I. MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION

A. Procedural Background

Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel on April 21, 2011. The motion sought, among other things, to compel Defendant Henry Nunez to produce financial information relevant to Plaintiffs' punitive damages claim. The parties continued the hearing several times and filed a joint statement of discovery dispute on June 10, 2011. The Court ultimately held a hearing on June 24, 2011. Following the hearing, the Court issued an order. With regard to the requested financial information, the Court's order stated as follows:

As discussed at the hearing, the parties have agreed to allow Defendants to file a motion for protective order regarding the requested financial information and Defendants intend to file a motion to strike the punitive damage allegation in the complaint. Therefore, the Court defers ruling on this portion of Plaintiffs' motion to compel pending resolution of the impending motion for protective order.

Doc. 27, p. 6 (Order dated June 27, 2011).

On October 7, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a request to reset the hearing on the motion to compel production of financial information. Plaintiffs explained that three months had passed and Defendants had not moved for a protective order. Plaintiffs now seek an order to compel discovery of Defendant Nunez's financial information.*fn1

Defendant Nunez did not file a timely opposition to this request. Rather, on October 18, 2011, he filed a motion to strike allegations of Plaintiffs' complaint and a motion to dismiss. Thereafter, he filed an untimely opposition to Plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery responses. In that opposition, Defendant Nunez requested that the instant hearing be continued to December 15, ...


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