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Geneva Lema v. City of Modesto

February 8, 2012

GENEVA LEMA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF MODESTO,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES, REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION, AND AN ORDER DEEMING DEFENDANT'S REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS ADMITTED (Documents 22-24)

BACKGROUND

On January 4, 2012, Defendant City of Modesto filed a motion to compel responses to special interrogatories and requests for production, and further sought an order of this Court deeming its requests for admissions admitted against Plaintiff Geneva Lema. (Docs. 22-24.)

On January 27, 2012, Defendant and Plaintiff, as directed, submitted their Joint Statement Re Discovery Dispute. (Doc. 30.)

In the joint statement, Defendant alleged that Plaintiff failed to timely respond to its discovery requests, however, it is also noted that "just prior to the filing of the[] motion, Plaintiff's counsel sent Defense counsel Roy C. Santos, via email, courtesy PDF copies of Plaintiff's responses . . .."*fn1 (Doc. 30 at 4.) Defendant asserts that, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rule 36, its requests for admission should be deemed admitted as Plaintiff failed to timely respond. (Doc. 30 at 4.) Defendant further noted in its joint statement that responses to its special interrogatories had been received and, in light of Plaintiff's subsequent confirmation that her responses were not limited by any objection, the motion as to this particular discovery request was withdrawn. (Doc. 30 at 4-5.) Defendant does not separately address its requests for production of documents in the joint statement. Finally, Defendant seeks costs and fees it incurred in filing the motion to compel. (Doc. 30 at 5-6.)

Conversely, Plaintiff argues that Defendant is not seeking to compel any discovery, rather it is only seeking an award of attorney fees because "it already had full discovery responses (without objections) in hand, before filing of the motion." (Doc. 30 at 7.) More particularly, Plaintiff's counsel contends that at some point in time after the initial extension was granted he contacted defense counsel "by telephone seeking an open extension of time to answer discovery," and that defense counsel "agreed and stated 'take as much time as you need.'" (Doc. 30 at 7.) Plaintiff's counsel declares that discovery responses were provided in electronic format at 1:59 p.m. on January 4, 2012, and also that hard copies were hand delivered at 4:07 p.m. on that same date.*fn2 The responses consisted of an eight-page response to the request for admissions, a twenty-four page response to interrogatories, and a 1,094 page response to the requests for production. (Doc. 30 at 7, ¶ 4.) Plaintiff contends "there was absolutely no meet and confer" with Defendant after she provided the discovery responses. (Doc. 30 at 9-10.)

Following submission of the parties' joint statement, this Court is left to decide the following: (1) whether the admissions will be deemed admitted as against Plaintiff; and (2) whether costs and fees will be awarded to Defendant.

DISCUSSION

The purpose of discovery is to make trial "less a game of blind man's bluff and more a fair contest with the basic issues and facts disclosed to the fullest practicable extent possible." United States v. Procter & Gamble, 356 U.S. 677, 683 (1958). Discovery will also serve to narrow and clarify the issues in dispute. Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947).

Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes the scope of discovery and states in pertinent part:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge 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 trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

"The party who resists discovery has the burden to show that discovery should not be allowed, and has the burden of clarifying, explaining, and supporting its objections." Oakes v. Halvorsen Marine Ltd., 179 F.R.D 281, 283 (C.D. Cal. 1998); Nestle Foods Corp. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 135 F.R.D. 101, 104 (D. N.J. 1990).

Requests for Admission

As previously indicated, Defendant seeks an order of this Court deeming its requests for admission admitted by Plaintiff. Defendant propounded a total of thirty separate requests for admission. Rule 36 of the Federal Rules ...


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