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Whitsitt v. City of Tracy

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 19, 2014

WILLIAM J. WHITSITT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF TRACY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the court is plaintiff's motion to withdraw deemed admissions. ECF No. 54. This motion was filed following the filing of defendant City of Tracy's ("the City") motion for summary judgment, which relies on plaintiff's failure to respond to defendant's Requests for Admission ("RFA"), Set One. For the reasons set forth here, plaintiff's motion will be denied.

RELEVANT BACKGROUND

On September 12, 2013, the City mail-served plaintiff with written discovery requests, including Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and the RFA at issue here. Crawford Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. A. As to the RFA, they included requests that plaintiff admit that (1) he did not request a post-tow hearing (RFA No. 5), (2) he suffered no damages as a result of his vehicle being towed on June 5, 2009 (RFA No. 6), and (3) defendant did not cause plaintiff any damages (RFA No. 7). See id. The discovery requests were served on plaintiff at 2920 Fairmont Avenue, Stockton, California 95206 via first class mail. Crawford Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. A. They included introductory language that pursuant to Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, plaintiff's responses were due within thirty days after service of the requests. Id . Plaintiff's discovery responses were due on October 17, 2013. Crawford Decl. ¶ 5; Fed.R.Civ.P. 36.

On September 25, 2013, the court held a status conference in this case.[1] Prior to the start of the conference, defense counsel, Sheila Crawford, asked plaintiff whether he received defendant's discovery requests. Crawford Decl. ¶ 4. Ms. Crawford declares that plaintiff confirmed receipt. Id . At the conference, the undersigned asked plaintiff to confirm that his then-current address was indeed 2920 Fairmont Avenue, Stockton, California 95206. Plaintiff confirmed both that the address was his current address and that it had a mailbox.[2]

Non-expert discovery concluded in this case on April 30, 2014. Nearly three months prior this deadline, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment relying on plaintiff's failure to respond to the RFAs, which are now deemed admitted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(3). On March 20, 2014, plaintiff filed the instant motion to withdraw the deemed admissions.

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standards

With respect to requests for admission, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that "[a] matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to whom the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3). As to the effect of an admission and its withdrawal or amendment:

A matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court, on motion, permits the admission to be withdrawn or amended. Subject to Rule 16(e), the court may permit withdrawal or amendment if it would promote the presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on the merits. An admission under this rule is not an admission for any other purpose and cannot be used against the party for any other proceeding.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(b).

Rule 36(b) presents a permissive standard, and whether a party is entitled to relief in the form of withdrawal or amendment of responses to requests for admissions lies within the discretion of the district court. Conlon v. United States , 474 F.3d 616, 621 (9th Cir. 2007). A district court must consider both factors specified in Rule 36(b) before deciding a motion to withdraw or amend admissions, but may in addition consider other factors, including whether the moving party can show good cause for the delay and whether the moving party appears to have a strong case on the merits. Id. at 625. Even if the moving party satisfies the two-pronged test, the court retains discretion to deny the motion. Id. at 624-25.

B. Analysis

1. Promotion of Presentation ...


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