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Compass Bank v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 27, 2015

COMPASS BANK, Plaintiff,
v.
MORRIS CERULLO WORLD EVANGELISM, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS

WILLIAM V. GALLO, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In an Order issued on December 22, 2014, the Court ordered all discovery to be completed by all parties on or before February 20, 2015. (Doc. No. 86 at 4.) A footnote immediately following that sentence clarified "completed" meant all discovery under Rules 30-36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure must be initiated a sufficient period of time in advance of the cut-off date, so that it may be completed by the cut-off date, taking into account the times for services, notice, and response as set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and any motions and the resolution of any discovery disputes. Id. at n.2 (emphasis in original). Additionally, that Court Order, the Scheduling Order in this case (Doc. No. 40), and this Court's Chambers Rules require that all disputes concerning discovery be brought to the Court's attention no later than thirty days following the date upon which the event giving rise to the discovery dispute occurred. Id; Doc. No. 40 at 2; Judge Gallo's Chambers Rule IV. Counsel are required to meet and confer pursuant to the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 26 and this Court's Civil Local Rule 26.1(a). (Doc. No. 86 at 4, n.2; Judge Gallo's Chambers Rule IV.)

On April 16, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Discovery and Request for Sanctions. (Doc. No. 158.) In its Motion, Plaintiff alleges that it did not receive numerous discovery items from Defendant. Id . Plaintiff seeks Court intervention to compel those items, as well as sanctions for Defendant's alleged discovery violations. Id . On April 30, 2015, Defendant filed an Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion (Doc. No. 162), and on May 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Reply (Doc. No. 164).

II. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY

Plaintiff argues that Defendant has failed to provide complete discovery responses and failed to produce key witnesses for deposition. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendant failed to: (1) produce the Mora fax[1] and corresponding fax logs; (2) provide dates of availability to depose two key witnesses; and (3) produce audio recordings that are in its possession. Plaintiff argues that during a Discovery Hearing on Defendant's Motion for Sanctions on April 2, 2015, Defendant raised complaints after discovery had closed about Plaintiff not providing complete discovery responses, and Defendant raised these complaints without properly meeting and conferring. After the Discovery Hearing, the Court issued an Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Sanctions. (Doc. No. 166.) Therefore, Plaintiff argues, because the Court entertained Defendant's discovery complaints, Plaintiff's instant Motion is also proper.

Plaintiff claims that it is prejudiced by Defendant's failure to provide complete discovery responses, as many of the withheld documents support Plaintiff's position in this case. It argues that the information sought is critical to disputing Defendant's counterclaims. Further, Plaintiff claims that it no longer has the ability to depose key Defense officers concerning the content of the numerous documents that Defendant has wrongly withheld and failed to produce in a timely manner.

Finally, Plaintiff asks that this Court sanction Defendant for its bad faith failure to produce documents and information crucial to Plaintiff's position as it is a clear abuse of the discovery process.

A. DEFENDANT FAILED TO DISCLOSE ITS PREVIOUS TRANSACTIONS WITH CHRISTOPHER HAMMATT[2]

1. PLAINTIFF'S ARGUMENT

Plaintiff alleges that the first of Defendant's many discovery abuses came to Plaintiff's attention in July of 2014. (Doc. No. 158-1 at 4.) Plaintiff claims that it later received documents from Defendant that should have been disclosed in response to Plaintiff's first round of discovery requests. Id. at 5.

2. COURT'S RESPONSE

This dispute is untimely. This Court's Chambers Rules require parties to notify the Court of discovery disputes within thirty days of the event giving rise to the dispute. Judge Gallo's Chambers Rule IV. This alleged discovery abuse came to Plaintiff's attention in July of 2014, and Plaintiff filed its instant Motion to Compel Discovery on April 16, 2015. Plaintiff waited nine months to bring this dispute to the Court's attention. The Court will not entertain this dispute.

B. DEFENDANT STALLED THE COMPLETE PRODUCTION OF HAMMATT'S SUBPOENA RESPONSE

1. PLAINTIFF'S ARGUMENT

Plaintiff claims that Defendant stalled the complete production of Hammatt's subpoena response to Plaintiff, but also notes that "... [Defense] counsel located and produced the lost documents after [Plaintiff] threatened to seek judicial intervention." (Doc. No. 158-1 at 5-6.)

Plaintiff claims that in or around November of 2014, Defendant informed Plaintiff that it had received a response to a subpoena it previously issued to Hammatt. (Doc. No. 158-1 at 5.) Plaintiff requested that Defendant produce the entire response from Hammatt, but claims that Defendant refused to do so until it had an opportunity to determine if wanted to withhold certain documents. Id . Plaintiff notes that this Court ordered Defendant to produce Hammatt's response in its entirety, but on January 7, 2015, Defendant responded that previously withheld documents from Hammatt's response had been lost or misplaced. Id; Doc. No. 158-2 at 3. Plaintiff claims that, "[a]pproximately two weeks later, [Defense] counsel located and produced the lost documents after [Plaintiff] threatened to seek judicial intervention." Id. at 6. Plaintiff is silent as to when Defendant produced the documents, but does note in a corresponding Declaration that it sent the correspondence demanding production on January 22, 2015. Id .; Doc. No. 158-2 at 4.

2. COURT'S RESPONSE

This issue is moot and untimely. It is moot because Plaintiff states that Defendant eventually produced all of the documents in response to Hammatt's subpoena. Plaintiff does not indicate what discovery, if any, Defendant has failed to produce. The Court will only rule on ripe discovery disputes.

Further, this issue is untimely because Plaintiff claims that, on January 22, 2015, it demanded production of the entire Hammatt response. Plaintiff waited nearly three months from the date of that correspondence to file the ...


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