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Wilson v. Conair Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 30, 2015

DELIA WILSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CONAIR CORPORATION, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (ECF Nos. 30, 32, 40, 41) THIRTY DAY DEADLINE

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

On March 16, 2015, Plaintiff Delia Wilson ("Plaintiff") filed a motion to compel. (ECF No. 30.) Plaintiff filed amended motions to compel on March 18, 2015 and April 7, 2015. (ECF No. 40.) On April 22, 2015, the parties filed Joint Statement Re: Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Further Responses to Discovery Requests. (ECF No. 41.)

The Court held oral argument on Plaintiff's motion to compel on April 29, 2015. Counsel Leslie Hurst appeared in person and counsel Katherine Odenbreidt appeared telephonically for Plaintiffs and counsel Ryan Saba and Momo Takahashi appeared for Defendant Conair Corporation. For the reasons set forth below, the Court shall grant in part Plaintiff's motion to compel.

I.

BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

The complaint in this matter was filed on June 11, 2014. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff brought this lawsuit as a class action against Defendant Conair Corporation ("Defendant") and raises three causes of action: 1) for violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code § 1750, et seq., 2) for violation of the Unfair Competition Law, California Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq., and 3) for breach of implied warranty.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant manufactures a variety of curling irons, straightening irons, and curling brushes. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant's styling irons use a power cord connected to the iron via a "stress relief." (Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant expressly and impliedly represent that their styling irons are well-designed and safe to use. (Compl. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff alleges that she, and others similarly situated, purchased Defendant's styling irons based upon those representations regarding their safety and suffered injury from using the styling irons. (Compl. ¶ 5.)

In Plaintiff's case, Plaintiff alleges that she purchased a Conair Instant Heat 1½" Curling Iron in early 2010. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Less than a month after it was purchased, the curling iron malfunctioned and would not turn on. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff contacted Conair's Customer Service Department and received a replacement curling iron. (Compl. ¶ 13.) On February 12, 2014, the replacement curling iron malfunctioned, and the power cord began to crackle and emit sparks. (Compl. ¶ 14.) A flash of sparks caused burns on Plaintiff's face and chest. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff received a corneal abrasion in her eye. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges that the curling iron failed at the point where the curling iron's power cord meets the stress relief. (Compl. ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant knew or should have known that its styling irons were defective. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant received complaints about similar incidents with the power cord from consumers as early as 2012. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant failed to warn consumers about the defects in its styling irons. (Compl. ¶ 24.)

Plaintiff seeks to bring this action on behalf of a class defined as "All persons who purchased Conair Styling Irons in California." (Compl. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act through its misrepresentations regarding the safety of their styling irons. (Compl. ¶¶ 40-47.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the California Unfair Competition Law by its misrepresentations and omissions regarding the safety of their styling irons. (Compl. ¶¶ 48-58.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached the implied warranty with respect to their styling irons because of the safety defects inherent in the styling irons. (Compl. ¶¶ 59-72.)

B. Plaintiff's Discovery Requests

On December 12, 2014, Plaintiff propounded upon Defendant one set of requests for production and one set of interrogatories. Initially, Defendant objected to the discovery requests without providing a substantive response. After meeting and conferring, Defendant provided some responses, but the parties continue to dispute the adequacy of Defendant's responses.

Plaintiff identifies two overarching disputes with respect to the discovery requests. First, the parties dispute the format on which electronically stored information is to be produced. Plaintiff requests ESI to be produced in "native" format or, alternatively, in TIFF format with accompanying metadata. Defendant contends ESI should be produced in PDF format.

Second, the parties dispute the scope of appropriate discovery. Plaintiff seeks documents and information pertaining to 45 models of styling irons. Defendant contends that discovery should be limited in scope to the two models used by Plaintiff, the "CD13" curling iron and the "CD87" curling iron which was sent to Plaintiff as a replacement for the CD13 when it would no longer turn on. Defendant argues that responding to Plaintiff's discovery requests with respect to all 45 models of styling irons would take approximately 880 man hours of work. Defendant further argues that this action is essentially one arising from false advertising. The only product falsely advertised to Plaintiff was the CD13 model Plaintiff purchased, as the CD87 model was one that was provided to Plaintiff as a replacement and not one Plaintiff was induced to purchase or request due to advertising. Defendant argues discovery should be, at most, limited to these models.

II.

LEGAL STANDARDS FOR MOTIONS TO COMPEL

Motions to compel are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, which states, in pertinent part:

(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery. (1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.

Rule 37 states that "an evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). Rule 37 also provides that attorney's fees must be awarded to the party that prevails on a motion to compel or the party who successfully opposes a motion to compel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5). If the motion to compel is granted in part and denied in part, the Court has discretion to apportion the reasonable expenses for the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(C).

III.

DISCUSSION

A. Format for Electronically Stored Information

The parties dispute the proper format for producing electronically stored information. On the subject of ESI, the Federal Rules state:

(E) Producing the Documents or Electronically Stored Information. Unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, these procedures apply to producing ...

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