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Valenzuela v. City of Calexico

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 11, 2015

MARIANO VALENZUELA, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CALEXICO, SERGEANT FRANK URIARTE, OFFICER PETER J. WEST, OFFICER VICTOR FLORES, OFFICER CARLOS RAMIREZ, Chief of Police POMPEYO TABAREZ, Former Chief of Police JIM NEUJAHR, and DOES 1 through 25, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION OF MICHAEL BOSTIC

PETER C. LEWIS, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Deposition of Michael Bostic, current Chief of Police for the City of Calexico, and a non-party to this suit. (Doc. 41.) The motion was filed March 20, 2015, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. Defendants filed an Opposition on April 2, 2015, and Plaintiff filed a Reply on April 9, 2015. (See Docs. 51, 55.) After thorough consideration of all moving papers and exhibits, and based on the following, the Court DENIES the Motion to Compel.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging civil rights violations giving rise to claims for: (1) false arrest and imprisonment; (2) battery; (3) negligence; (4) unlawful seizure, arrest, and detention; (5) unlawful entry into home; (6) use of excessive force; (7) a claim against Defendant City of Calexico under Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Serv. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); (8) failure to properly train; (9) failure to supervise and discipline; and (10) violations of the Bane Act, California Civil Code §§ 52.1 and 52. (Doc. 1, at 6-9.) Plaintiff's complaint includes the following relevant factual allegations in support of these causes of action:

At the direction of Defendant Uriarte, Defendants Ramirez and Flores went to Plaintiff's house on June 11, 2013 in response to a domestic violence complaint. (Plaintiff's Compl., Doc. 1, ¶¶ 21-23, 41.) Defendants Ramirez and Flores arrested Plaintiff without probable cause, and during that arrest used excessive force, including physical abuse and the use of a Taser. (Id. at ¶¶ 23-26, 83.) Plaintiff sustained several bodily injuries. (Id. at ¶¶ 29-31, 85.) The police incident-reports of the Defendant officers differed, Id. at ¶ 27, suggesting they were falsified, misleading, or incomplete. (Id. at ¶¶ 32, 36.) No corrective action was taken by Defendants Uriarte, Neujahr, or Tabarez to remedy the situation, Id. at ¶¶ 63-64, 96, and no supervising officer from the Calexico Police Department took steps to supervise Defendants Flores and Ramirez during their arrest of Plaintiff or during their subsequent filing of reports. (Id. at ¶ 110.)

In addition, Plaintiff's complaint includes many conclusory allegations, unaccompanied by factual assertions. (See id., passim. ) While the Court recognizes that all of the allegations in the complaint may ultimately prove to be true, many of the allegations suggesting causes of the incident on June 11, 2013 are strikingly lacking of factual support. Among others, these allegations include:

Defendants Uriarte and Neujahr failed to properly train, supervise, and control Defendants Flores and Ramirez, which caused Plaintiff's injuries. (Id. at ¶¶ 58-67, 100-107, 110-120.) Defendant Uriarte and Neujahr ratified the acts of Defendants Flores and Ramirez, and this caused the injuries of Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 66-67.) The acts of Defendants Flores and Ramirez were consistent with a custom and practice of harassing and physically abusing citizens, and then arresting them, which was endorsed, promulgated, or tolerated by Defendant Calexico Police Department's policy-makers, and this custom caused the incident on June 11, 2013. (Id. at ¶¶ 91, 94, 97.)

Plaintiff has attached a declaration of counsel and several video exhibits in support of this motion to compel, which attempts to explain the connection of Michael Bostic ("Chief Bostic") to the underlying incident, outlined above. (Doc. 41-1, Decl. Brody McBride.) According to Plaintiff, Chief Bostic "may be the single most important individual regarding Plaintiff's Monell and Negligent Hiring, Retention, and Supervision causes of action..." (Doc. 41-2, at 2.) Plaintiff asserts that Chief Bostic: was hired to root out corruption in the Calexico Police Department, based on his prior law enforcement experience (Doc. 41-1, at ¶ 7); was aware of prior complaints against officers, and the apparent inadequacy of the Calexico Police Department's Investigations Unit (Id. at ¶¶ 13, 16-18); became aware of issues in background investigations (Id. at ¶ 25); became aware of a pattern of retribution against Calexico Police Department members who have tried to bring corruption to light (Id. at ¶ 26); has taken steps to remedy any corruption in the Calexico Police Department (Id. at ¶ 27-29); and personally fired Defendants Duran and Uriarte, among other officers for unspecified reasons. (Id. at ¶ 30.)

On February 12, 2015, Plaintiff served Defendants with a "Notice of Deposition of Chief Bostic and Request for Production of Documents, " attached to Defendants' opposition as Exhibit "B", pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) and 34. (Doc. 51-1, at 2, 5.) Defendants briefly objected to Chief Bostic's deposition as unduly burdensome, oppressive, and harassing, and refused to produce Chief Bostic. (Doc. 51-1, at 12.) As a result, Plaintiff brought this motion to compel pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standards

District courts enjoy broad discretion in controlling discovery. Palmer v. Ellsworth, 12 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 1993); Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988); Canadian Am. Oil Co. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 577 F.2d 468 (9th Cir. 1978).

District courts also have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005); Brown Bag Software v. Symantec Corp., 960 F.2d 1465, 1470 (9th Cir. 1992). "[F]or good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1); Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). 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 also no requirement that the information sought directly relate to a particular issue in the case; rather, relevance "encompass[es] any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 354, 98 S.Ct. 2380, 57 L.Ed.2d 253 (1978) (citation omitted). However, the party seeking to compel discovery has the burden of establishing that its request satisfies the relevance requirement of Rule 26. Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 610 (N.D. Cal. 1995); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b). Further, the moving party must demonstrate actual and substantial prejudice would result from the denial of discovery. Sablan v. Dep't of Fin., 856 F.2d 1317, 1321 (9th Cir. 1988) (denial of motion not an abuse of discretion absent a clear showing that the denial of discovery resulted in actual and substantial prejudice to moving party); Goehring v. ...


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