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Alsabur v. Autozone, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 18, 2014

JOWHAR ALSABUR, Plaintiff,
v.
AUTOZONE, INC., Defendant.

ORDER REGARDING 5/21/2014 JOINT LETTER CONCERNING RULE 30(B)(6) DEPOSITION Dkt. No. 54

KANDIS A. WESTMORE, Magistrate Judge.

On May 23, 2014, the parties filed a joint letter dated May 21, 2014. (Joint Letter, Dkt. No. 54.) This joint letter concerns Defendant Autozone's Rule 30(b)(6) deponent, Francis Tobias, who Plaintiff contends knew nothing of Plaintiff's employment or the 55 noticed deposition categories. (Joint Letter at 3-4.) Plaintiff seeks an order requiring the reopening of the 30(b)(6) deposition. Id. at 4.

Upon review of the joint letter, the Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without further briefing or oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), and will not order the reopening of the 30(b)(6) deposition.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jowhar Alsabur worked for Defendant Autozone, Inc. at Store 5229 in Oakland, California. On March 25, 2011, Plaintiff was allegedly demoted from Store Manager to Assistant Manager. On or about April 9, 2011, Plaintiff was terminated for allegedly misusing company time by not adjusting his reported time at work after attending a doctor's appointment for a work-related injury. Plaintiff, who is African American, claims that his demotion and eventual termination were based on race discrimination rather than for violating company policy.

Plaintiff did not notice the depositions of any percipient witnesses, despite discussing the potential depositions of six witnesses, including Sheri Lemond, James Sechler, and Venustino Ochoa, and their respective dates of availability. (Joint Letter at 3.)

Instead, "[t]o save both parties money, " Plaintiff noticed a deposition of Defendant's corporate representative pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) on May 14, 2014. ( See Joint Letter at 3; Dep. Not., Joint Letter, Ex. A at 6.) Defendant did not object to the 55 noticed deposition topics, and the deposition went forward on May 15, 2014. (Joint Letter at 2.) Defendant produced Francis Tobias, Regional Human Resource Manager, as its 30(b)(6) deponent. Plaintiff began Mr. Tobias' deposition at 10:00 a.m. and took a recess at 10:51 a.m. after a dispute arose as to whether a question was on a noticed deposition topic. (Dep. of Francis Tobias, "Tobias Dep., " Joint Letter, Ex. C at 40.) When the parties went back on the record at 11:12 a.m., Plaintiff's counsel, Tiega-Noel Varlack, terminated the deposition because "Autozone has produced a witness who we believe does not have knowledge of the categories noticed in our deposition." Id.

The parties did not seek judicial intervention pursuant to Civil Local Rule 37-1(b) and the Court's Standing Order-which permits parties to seek a judicial determination during a discovery event-prior to the termination of the deposition. (Judge Westmore's Standing Order ΒΆ 16.)

On May 23, 2014, the parties filed the joint letter dated May 21, 2014.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 30(a)(1) provides that, subject to certain limitations, "[a] party may, by oral questions, depose any person, including a party, without leave of court...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(a)(1). In turn, Rule 30(b)(6) provides that

[i]n its notice or subpoena, a party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination. The named organization must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6). "The corporation has a duty to educate its witnesses so they are prepared to fully answer the questions posed at the deposition." Bowoto v. ChevronTexaco Corp., No. C 99-02506 SI, 2006 WL 294799, at *1 (N.D.Cal. Feb. 7, 2006) (citing In re Vitamins Antitrust Litig., 216 F.R.D. 168, 172 (D.D.C.2003)).

A party noticing a deposition pursuant to Rule 30(b)(6) must describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which the examination is requested. Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6). "However, the reasonable particularity' requirement of Rule 30(b)(6) cannot be used to limit what is asked of the designated witness at a deposition." UniRAM Technology, Inc. v. Monolithic Sys. Tech., Inc., No. C 04-1268 VRW (MEJ), 2007 WL 915225, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 23, 2007) (citing Detoy v. City and County of San Francisco, 196 F.R.D. 362, 366-67 (N.D. Cal. 2000)). "The 30(b)(6) notice establishes the minimum about which the witness must be prepared to testify, not the maximum." Id. (citing Detoy, 196 F.R.D. at 366-67). "However, if the deponent does not know the answer to questions outside the scope of the matters described in the notice, ...


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