United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISQUALIFY MAGISTRATE JUDGE (Docs. 101,
ANTHONY ISHII, Senior District Judge.
Plaintiff Krishna Reddy ("Plaintiff") has filed a motion for reconsideration (Doc. 101) of the Magistrate Judge's order granting Defendant's motion to modify the scheduling order and denying Plaintiff's motions for protective order, change of venue, and discovery-related sanctions (Doc. 91). Plaintiff has also filed a motion to disqualify the Magistrate Judge (Doc. 103). For the following reasons both of those motions will be denied.
II. Motion For Reconsideration
On May 4, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued an order regarding numerous motions filed by Plaintiff and Defendant, noting that he addressed those motions as permitted by 28 U.S.C. § 636 and L.R. 302(a), generally authorizing a magistrate judge to determine any non-dispositive matter. The Magistrate Judge then noted that the motions for protective order and discovery related motion - despite the fact that both seek default as a sanction - are non-dispositive. See Doc 91 at 3. The Magistrate Judge then characterized Plaintiff's motion for change of venue as a motion for reconsideration because the Court has twice before heard and denied this motion. Doc. 91 at 7; see Doc. 18 at 4-5.
The Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff's motion for protective order should not be granted because Plaintiff did not show good cause: reasonable notice of the challenged deposition was given, the deposition location being fifty miles from Plaintiff's home did not prejudice her, and the circumstances surrounding the deposition were authorized and appropriate. As to Plaintiff's motion for change of venue, the Magistrate Judge applied Local Rule 230(j), providing the requirements for reconsideration of a prior order. The Magistrate Judge found that no new or different facts exist now that did not exist at the time of the prior motions. Doc. 91 at 8. Finally, the Magistrate Judge modified the scheduling order to allow sufficient time for Plaintiff's deposition to be taken for use in dispositive and non-dispositive motions - including the motion for summary judgment now pending.
As a threshold matter, Plaintiff alleges that the Magistrate Judge lacked the authority to resolve Plaintiff's motions for protective order and discovery-related motion for terminating sanctions because, she claims, both are dispositive. Not so. A party's request for unwarranted relief does not transform an inherently non-dispositive discovery-related issue into a dispositive motion. Moreover, the Magistrate Judge did not need to reach the question of the appropriateness of Plaintiff's requested sanctions because he found that the alleged discovery violations to be without merit. The underlying determination of the alleged discovery violations falls within the heartland of the grant of authority to the Magistrate Judge to determine non-dispositive pretrial matters. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).
i. Legal Standard
This Court reviews a motion to reconsider a Magistrate Judge's ruling on non-dispositive motions under the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). As such, the court may only set aside those portions of a Magistrate Judge's order that are either clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also Grimes v. City and County of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 240 (9th Cir.1991) (discovery sanctions are non-dispositive pretrial matters that are reviewed for clear error under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).
A magistrate judge's factual findings are "clearly erroneous" when the district court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Security Farms v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 124 F.3d 999, 1014 (9th Cir.1997); Green v. Baca, 219 F.R.D. 485, 489 (C.D.Cal.2003). The "clearly erroneous' standard is significantly deferential." Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California, 508 U.S. 602, 623, 113 S.Ct. 2264, 124 L.Ed.2d 539 (1993) (citation omitted).
The "contrary to law" standard allows independent, plenary review of purely legal determinations by the magistrate judge. See Haines v. Liggett Group, Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91 (3rd Cir.1992); Green, 219 F.R.D. at 489; see also Osband v. Woodford, 290 F.3d 1036, 1041 (9th Cir.2002). "An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." Knutson v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minn., 254 F.R.D. 553, 556 (D.Minn.2008); Rathgaber v. Town of Oyster Bay, 492 F.Supp.2d 130, 137 (E.D.N.Y.2007); Surles v. Air France, 210 F.Supp.2d 501, 502 (S.D.N.Y.2001); see Adolph Coors Co. v. Wallace, 570 F.Supp. 202, 205 (N.D.Cal.1983).
"Pretrial orders of a magistrate under § 636(b)(1)(A)... are not subject to a de novo determination...." Merritt v. International Bro. of Boilermakers, 649 F.2d 1013, 1017 (5th Cir.1981). "The reviewing court may not simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding court." Grimes, 951 F.2d at 241; see Phoenix Engineering & Supply v. Universal Elec., 104 F.3d 1137, 1141 (9th Cir.1997) ("the clearly erroneous standard allows [for] great deference"). A district court is able to overturn a magistrate judge's ruling "only if the district court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.'" Computer Economics, Inc. v. Gartner Group, Inc., 50 F.Supp.2d 980, 983 (S.D.Cal.1999) (quoting Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir.1997)). Nonetheless, "[m]otions for reconsideration are disfavored, however, and are not the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their ...