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Weco Supply Company, Inc., A California Corporation v. the Sherwin-Williams Ruling Company

April 24, 2012

WECO SUPPLY COMPANY, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION
PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE SHERWIN-WILLIAMS RULING COMPANY,
DEFENDANT.



ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION BY THE DISTRICT COURT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S (Doc. 46) AND RELATED CROSS-ACTION

Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant Weco Supply Company, Inc. ("Weco") filed this civil action against Defendant The Sherwin-Williams Company ("Sherwin-Williams") in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, alleging unfair business practices. Sherwin-Williams removed the action to this Court on February 2, 2010. Currently pending is Weco's request for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's ruling denying Weco's request to reopen discovery to conduct approximately five depositions. See Court's Docket, Doc. No. 46. For the reasons set forth below, Weco's request is denied.

BACKGROUND

On May 6, 2011, the Court signed an Order extending the discovery cut-off in this action from May 10, 2011 to September 30, 2011, as stipulated by the parties. See Court's Docket, Doc. No. 34; Decl. of Scott Laird ("Laird Decl.") ¶ 3. On or about October 9, 2011, after the September 30 discovery cut-off date had passed, counsel for Sherwin-Williams contacted counsel for Weco and requested a second stipulation to extend the discovery cut-off. Laird Decl. ¶ 4. Weco's counsel signed the stipulation and agreed to produce his client for deposition. Id. ¶ 5. On October 18, 2011, in light of the parties' stipulation, the Magistrate Judge signed an Order amending the Scheduling Order to extend the discovery cut-off date to January 13, 2012.*fn1 See Court's Docket, Doc. No. 42. The Magistrate Judge also set a new trial date of July 9, 2012, and a new dispositive motion filing deadline of March 28, 2012. Id.

On October 25, 2011, Sherwin-Williams noticed the deposition of Weco's president for November 16, 2011. See Laird Decl. ¶ 7, Exs. C, D, E. Weco's counsel accommodated Sherwin-Williams' last minute requests for scheduling changes, and the deposition ultimately took place in late December. Id., Ex. F. Sherwin-Williams took two additional depositions on December 9, 2011. Id. ¶ 8. During this time, counsel for Weco spoke to counsel for Sherwin-Williams and requested available dates for the depositions of various Sherwin-Williams witnesses and certain designees. Id. Counsel for Sherwin-Williams never responded with any dates. Id.

On January 9, 2012, prior to the discovery cut-off, counsel for Weco e-mailed counsel for Sherwin-Williams regarding scheduling the depositions. Id. ¶ 9, Ex. G. Counsel for Sherwin-Williams responded: "Scott, I believe the court ordered discovery cut-off for Jan. 13." Id. On January 10, 2012, counsel for Weco replied that he had been "buried with trial preparation in another case through October, November and early December," that Weco had accommodated Sherwin-Williams' deposition schedule, and that Sherwin-Williams was aware that depositions needed to be scheduled but had not provided available dates. Id. ¶ 10, Ex. G. On January 11, 2012, counsel for Sherwin-Williams responded: "Scott, I have been appreciative of your courtesies. However, to extent [sic] discovery is a decision my client will have to make. I will contact them with your request." Id.

On February 1, 2012, counsel for Weco sent another e-mail to counsel for Sherwin-Williams asking whether Sherwin-Williams would produce the requested witnesses. Id. ¶ 12, Ex. H. Counsel for Sherwin-Williams responded that his client had not authorized him to extend the discovery cut-off. Id. Weco's counsel responded: "Joe, can you identify any prejudice? I can see none." Id. ¶ 13, Ex. H. Having received no reply from Sherwin-Williams' counsel, counsel for Weco contacted the Court to reopen discovery to conduct the necessary depositions.

On February 22, 2012, the parties each submitted a two-page letter*fn2 to the Court regarding their positions on the issue of reopening discovery. See RJN, Exs. 1, 2. The Magistrate Judge held a telephonic conference call on February 23, 2012 to resolve the discovery dispute. See Court's Docket, Doc. No. 44. Following oral argument, and after reviewing the parties' two-page briefs, the Magistrate Judge denied Weco's request. Id. Doc. No. 45.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to file and serve objections to a Magistrate Judge's nondispositive order within fourteen days. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). In this court, these objections are treated as a motion for reconsideration by the assigned District Court Judge. See Local Rule 72-303.

Motions to reconsider are committed to the discretion of the trial court. See Navajo Nation v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation, 331 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003); Kona Enter., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 883 (9th Cir. 2000). Local Rule 78-230(j) requires the party seeking reconsideration to show the "new or different facts or circumstances claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist for the motion." Local Rule 230(j).

The court reviews a motion to reconsider a Magistrate Judge's ruling on a nondispositive motion under the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); Local Rule 72-303(f). "A finding is 'clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948); see also Anderson v. Equifax Info. Services LLC, 2007 WL 2412249, at *1 (D.Or. 2007) ("Though Section 636(b)(1)(A) has been interpreted to permit de novo review of the legal findings of a magistrate judge, magistrate judges are given broad discretion on discovery matters and should not be overruled absent a showing of clear abuse of discretion."). Some district courts have described the court's duty on a motion for reconsideration as follows:

This Court's function, on a motion for review of a magistrate judge's discovery order, is not to decide what decision this Court would have reached on its own, nor to determine what is the best possible result considering all available evidence. It is to decide whether the Magistrate Judge, based on the evidence and information before him, rendered a decision that was clearly erroneous or contrary to law.

Bare Escentuals Beauty, Inc. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 2007 WL 4357672, at *2 (S.D.Cal. 2007) (quoting Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Replay TV, ...


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