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Rijhwani v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

January 28, 2015

MANOJ RIJHWANI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE, INC., Defendant.

ORDER REGARDING THE PARTIES' THREE JOINT DISCOVERY DISPUTE LETTERS DATED JANUARY 23, 2015 [Re: ECF Nos. 37-39]

LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs Manoj Rijhwani and Lisa Rijhwani ("Plaintiffs") sued Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo")[1] for its alleged misconduct in relation to Plaintiffs' attempt to get a loan modification and the concurrent foreclosure proceedings on Plaintiffs' property. See Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), ECF No. 1-1 at 1-24.[2] The parties now have filed three joint discovery dispute letters. See First 1/23/2015 Letter, ECF No. 37; Second 1/23/2015 Letter, ECF No. 38; Third 1/23/2015 Letter, ECF No. 39. Upon consideration of the letters and the record before it, the court rules as follow.

I. WELLS FARGO'S DISCOVERY

In the First 1/23/2015 Letter, Wells Fargo asks the court to order Plaintiffs to respond, without objection, to its Special Interrogatories, Set One, and its Request for Production ("RFPs"), Set Two, no later than February 10, 2015. See First 1/23/2015 Letter, ECF No. 37. Wells Fargo served the discovery at issue on Plaintiffs on December 17, 2014. This means that Plaintiffs' deadline to respond to it was January 16, 2015. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2), 34(b)(2)(A). In the letter, Plaintiffs say they have not responded because one of the two Plaintiffs (Manoj Rijhwani) was injured in early January 2015, but Plaintiffs fail to explain why they did not seek or get an extension of time to respond or seek a protective order prior to January 16, 2015, or why the other Plaintiff (Lisa Rijhwani) could not have assisted with the responses. Plaintiffs nevertheless say that they agree to respond by Wells Fargo's proposed date of February 10, 2015.

The dispute, then, is whether Plaintiffs may object to the discovery. Wells Fargo provides authority supporting its argument that Plaintiffs' failure to timely respond means that they waived their right to object. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4) ("The grounds for objecting to an interrogatory must be stated with specificity. Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the court, for good cause, excuses the failure."); Richmark Corp. v. Timber Falling Consultants, 959 F.2d 1468, 1473 (9th Cir. 1992) ("It is well established that a failure to object to discovery requests within the time required constitutes a waiver of any objection."); Davis v. Fendler, 650 F.2d 1154, 1160 (9th Cir. 1981) ("Generally, in the absence of an extension of time or good cause, the failure to object to interrogatories within the time fixed by Rule 33, FRCivP, constitutes a waiver of any objection."). And although some courts "read into Rule 34 the discretion granted under Rule 33(b)(4) (dealing with interrogatories) to excuse untimely objections to requests for production, " Cal. Prac. Guide: Civ. P. before Trial § 11:1905 (The Rutter Guide 2015) (citing Blumenthal v. Drudge, 186 F.R.D. 236, 240 (D.D.C. 1999)), and other courts have granted relief from such a waiver "upon a proper showing, " see id. § 11:1906 (citing In re Uranium Antitrust Litig., 480 F.Supp. 1138, 1149 (N.D. Il. 1979), Plaintiffs make no effort to argue that they meet such a standard and in fact do not ask the court to excuse their untimeliness. See First 1/23/2015 Letter, ECF No. 37 at 2.[3] On this record, then, the court finds that Plaintiffs have waived their rights to object to Wells Fargo's propounded discovery.

Accordingly, the court orders Plaintiffs to provide written responses to Wells Fargo's Special Interrogatories, Set One and its Request for Production, Set Two, without objections, and produce copies of all documents responsive to the requests that are currently within Plaintiffs' possession, custody or control, no later than February 10, 2015.

II. PLAINTIFFS' DISCOVERY

In the Third 1/23/2015 Letter, Plaintiffs ask the court to order Wells Fargo to further respond, without objection, to their Requests for Admissions ("RFAs"), Set One, and their Request for Production, Set Two, no later than February 10, 2015. See First 1/23/2015 Letter, ECF No. 39.

As an initial matter, the court notes that Plaintiffs' RFAs consist of 405 separate requests, roughly one-third of which appropriately ask Wells Fargo to admit the truth of certain matters related to this action. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1) (scope of requests for admission). The remaining two-thirds inappropriately ask Wells Fargo to "state all facts" if the response to the preceding question was not an admission or to "produce all documents" that supported the denial of the request for admission. Compare id. with Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2) (scope of interrogatories) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1) (scope of requests for the production of documents). The court finds that Wells Fargo does not need to further respond to any so-called RFAs that ask Wells Fargo to "state all facts" or "produce all documents." Whether Wells Fargo has to further respond to RFAs that actually seek admissions, or to Plaintiffs' RFPs, is discussed below.

As for the remaining RFAs and the RFPs, Wells Fargo argues that it appropriately objected to them and should not have to respond to them because they were not timely served. Plaintiffs' RFAs and RFPs, which were received by Wells Fargo on December 22, 2014, are dated December 12, 2014. Plaintiffs say that their counsel placed the envelopes containing the requests into his law firm's mailing system that same day. The proof of service also states that the requests were served by regular mail on December 12, 2014. If this is true, then Wells Fargo would have had to respond to the requests by January 14, 2015, two days before the close of fact discovery. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(a) (calculating time), 6(d) (add three days to response time when service is by regular mail), 36(a)(3) (a party must respond to RFAs within 30 days of being served with them).

Wells Fargo, however, says that Plaintiffs' position is betrayed by the envelope's postmark, which indicates that the requests were processed as received by the postal service on December 19, 2014. If the requests were not delivered to the postal service and mailed until that date, responses to them would not have been due until January 21, 2015, five days after the close of discovery, making them untimely served. Wells Fargo also notes that the proof of service signed by Plaintiffs' counsel states: "I am aware that on motion of the party served, service is presumed invalid if the postal cancellation date or postage meter date is more than one (1) day after the date of deposit for mailing in the affidavit."

In light of the conflicting evidence, and with the postal service annual holiday inundation in mind, the court will not find that Plaintiffs' requests were untimely. Wells Fargo must respond to Plaintiffs' Requests for Admissions, Set One (to the extent that they actually seek admissions and not to the extent that they ask Wells Fargo to "state all facts" or "produce all documents"), and their Requests for Production, Set Two, no later than February 10, 2015.

III. MR. TERAN'S DEPOSITION

In the Second 1/23/2015 Letter, Plaintiffs ask the court to order Wells Fargo to either designate Juan Teran as Wells Fargo's deponent for its upcoming Rule 30(b)(6) deposition, provide them with Mr. Teran's contact information so they can serve him with a ...


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