United States District Court, S.D. California
CONSOLIDATED ORDER ON JOINT MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF DISCOVERY DISPUTE RE: (1) PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO INTERROGATORIES 3-5, 8 [ECF NO. 57]; AND, (2) PLAINTIFF'S. MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES PURSUANT TO PATENT L.R. 3.4(a) AND REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS [ECF NO. 69]
[ECF NOS. 57, 69]
MITCHELL D. DEMBIN, Magistrate Judge.
Before the Court are discovery disputes presented by the parties in two Joint Motions for Determination of a Discovery Dispute. One dispute, filed on January 18, 2014, consists of Plaintiff's motion to compel further responses to certain interrogatories by Defendant. [ECF No. 57]. The other dispute, filed on January 29, 2014, consists of Plaintiff's motion to compel further production from Defendant under Patent L.R. 3.4(a) and regarding 65 Requests for Production. [ECF No. 69].
The Court held a discovery conference with counsel for the parties on February 10, 2014. This Order is based upon the filed documents and the discussions held with counsel at the conference.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally allow for broad discovery, authorizing parties to obtain discovery of "any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Also, "[f]or good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Id. Relevant information for discovery purposes includes any information "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, " and need not be admissible at trial to be discoverable. Id. There is no requirement that the information sought directly relate to a particular issue in the case. Rather, relevance encompasses any matter that "bears on" or could reasonably lead to matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be presented in the case. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). District courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. See Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). Similarly, district courts have broad discretion to limit discovery where the discovery sought is "unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C). Limits also should be imposed where the burden or expense outweighs the likely benefits. Id.
"An interrogatory may relate to any matter that may be inquired under Rule 26(b)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2). The responding party must answer each interrogatory by stating the appropriate objection(s) with specificity or by "answer[ing] separately and fully in writing under oath." Id. at 33(b). The responding party has the option in certain circumstances to answer an interrogatory by specifying responsive records and making those records available to the interrogating party. Id. at 33(d).
Similarly, a party may request the production of any document within the scope of Rule 26(b). Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a). "For each item or category, the response must either state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested or state an objection to the request, including the reasons." Id. at 34(b)(2)(B). The responding party is responsible for all items in "the responding party's possession, custody, or control." Id. at 34(a)(1). Actual possession, custody or control is not required. Rather, "[a] party may be ordered to produce a document in the possession of a non-party entity if that party has a legal right to obtain the document or has control over the entity who is in possession of the document. Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 620 (N.D. Cal. 1995).
1. Dispute Regarding Interrogatories 3-5 and 8 [ECF No. 57]
a. Interrogatory 3
Interrogatory 3 asks Defendant to identify third parties with whom Defendant contracted to provide access to the accused technology to include identifying the specific technology supplied and the consideration paid. In response, Defendant relied upon Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(d) and identified specific documents provided earlier to Plaintiff. Plaintiff argues that this response is insufficient as it fails to answer all of the components of the Interrogatory.
Rule 33(d) provides that if an answer to an interrogatory may be determined from a party's business records and the burden of ascertaining the answer will be substantially the same for either party, the responding party may answer by specifying the records that must be reviewed.
The Court finds that Defendant's reliance on Rule 33(d) in this instance is appropriate - identifying with specificity the relevant contracts provides both parties with substantially the same burden in deriving the terms of the contracts. Plaintiff asserts, however, that certain contracts identify financial terms, such as cost per image, but do not identify what actually was paid. To the extent that payments were made pursuant to these contracts, Plaintiff ...