United States District Court, S.D. California
KIM ALLEN, LAINIE RIDEOUT and KATHLEEN HAIRSTON, on behalf of themselves, all others similarly situated, and the general public, Plaintiffs,
SIMILASAN CORPORATION, Defendant. OF PLAINTIFFS' MEDICAL
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY RECORDS [ECF No. 80]
JILL L. BURKHARDT, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiffs Lainie Rideout and Kathleen Hairston (collectively, "Plaintiffs") are pursuing this consumer protection putative class action lawsuit against homeopathic drug manufacturer Similasan Corporation ("Defendant") for alleged false, deceptive and misleading advertising of certain homeopathic products. Plaintiffs are suing for violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act; the Unfair Competition Law; the False Advertising Law; the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act; as well as violations of express and implied warranties. Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Compel Discovery of Plaintiffs' Medical Records. (ECF No. 80.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
I. LEGAL STANDARD
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally allow for broad discovery, authorizing parties to obtain discovery regarding "any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 26(b)(1). In addition, "[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 generally no requirement that the information sought by a party 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 present in the case. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). If, however, a party is challenging a discovery request based on a right of privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of California, a heightened standard of direct relevance is required. Davis v. Superior Court, 7 Cal App. 4th 1008, 1017 (1992).
District courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. 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. Pro. 26(b)(2)(C). Limits should also be imposed where the burden or expense outweighs the likely benefits. Id.
A party may request the production of any document within the scope of Rule 26(b). Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 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 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, 619 (N.D. Cal. 1995).
Defendant seeks to have this Court compel Plaintiffs to respond to certain requests for production ("RFP") and interrogatories. The following requests are at issue: (1) RFP Nos. 22-26; and (2) interrogatories No. 5 and No. 6. (ECF No. 80.) In addition, Defendant seeks an order compelling Plaintiffs to provide "authorizations to obtain medical records directly from plaintiffs' medical providers for their health information and medical records two years prior to their first Similasan product purchase through the time they were taking the alleged Similasan product." (ECF No. 80.)
Plaintiffs object to all of Defendant's requests on various grounds including that the requests are overbroad, burdensome, oppressive, and seek documents that are private and confidential. (ECF No. 86.)
A. Requests for Production Nos. 22-26
Defendant seeks to have the Court order Plaintiffs to produce documents responsive to RFP Nos. 22-26. (ECF No. 80.) RFP No. 22 asks Plaintiffs for "All Documents regarding any and all ailments, illnesses, afflictions, diseases, disorders, sicknesses, or other medical conditions,  from which You suffered from January 1, 2000, to the present." (ECF No. 80, Ex. A.) RFP No. 23 seeks "All documents regarding symptom(s) you experienced that caused you to purchase the product. Id. RFP No. 24 asks Plaintiffs for:
All documents regarding every medical professional from whom you or any individual identified in your response to Interrogatory No. 2, sought or received treatment from any reason, and including for each medical professional: (1) the name, title, specialty, address, and telephone number of the medical professional; (2) the reasons for seeking such treatment; and (3) the date(s) on which you sought or received the treatment.
RFP No. 25 ...