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Sateriale v. Rj Reynolds Tobacco Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 8, 2015

AMANDA SATERIALE ET AL
v.
RJ REYNOLDS TOBACCO CO

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS): DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO REOPEN DISCOVERY (dkt. 180, filed June 5, 2015)

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15.

I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are known to the parties and are set forth in this Court's prior orders on defendant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company's ("RJR") motion for summary judgment, dkt. 136, and plaintiffs Amanda Sateriale, Jeffrey Feinman, Pamela Burns, Patrick Griffiths, Jackie Warren, and Donald Wilson's motion for class certification, dkt. 135. The facts and procedural history most relevant to the present motion are as follows.

Plaintiffs filed this action in 2009, asserting claims for, inter alia, breach of bilateral contract and promissory estoppel. The Court dismissed the entire action with prejudice in December 2010, and plaintiffs subsequently appealed the Court's decision to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit vacated dismissal of the breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims, reasoning that plaintiffs had "adequately alleged the existence of an offer to enter into a unilateral contract, whereby RJR promised to provide rewards to customers who purchased Camel cigarettes, saved Camel Cash certificates and redeemed their certificates in accordance with the catalogs' terms." Sateriale v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 697 F.3d 777, 787 (9th Cir. 2012) (emphasis added).

Accordingly, the action was remanded to this Court.

On remand, the parties engaged in discovery. Discovery closed on April 14, 2014, and RJR moved for summary judgment on June 16, 2014. As is relevant here, RJR asserted that it was entitled to summary judgment because, inter alia, the undisputed evidence demonstrated that it had made cigarettes and coupons for cigarettes available for redemption with Camel Cash during the final six months of the Camel Cash program. According to RJR, since plaintiffs alleged that RJR breached the unilateral contract by failing to provide "any merchandise" for redemption, the fact that RJR provided cigarettes and coupons for cigarettes conclusively demonstrated the absence of breach. Plaintiffs, in contrast, asserted that the claim for breach survived precisely because RJR solely provided cigarettes and coupons for cigarettes for redemption-items which, according to plaintiffs, did not constitute "merchandise" within the meaning of the alleged contract.

By order dated December 19, 2014 ("Summary Judgment Order"), the Court rejected RJR's characterization of plaintiffs' claim and denied RJR's motion. Dkt. 136. Construing the language contained in the Camel Cash-specifically, the words "goods, " "stuff, " and "the best"-the Court concluded that the language was ambiguous as to the nature of the "goods" RJR was obligated to provide. Noting the parties' "differing views" concerning resolution of the ambiguity, the Court cited to the depositions of named plaintiffs Fred Javaheri and Daniel Polese, both of whom testified that they drew a distinction between "merchandise" and "cigarettes"-specifically, that the latter term was not a subset of the former.

Less than one month later, RJR filed a motion for reconsideration of the Summary Judgment Order. On April 1, 2015-before the Court denied RJR's motion for reconsideration on April 8, 2014, dkt. 156-RJR served plaintiffs with Supplemental Initial Disclosures pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, Vogt Decl. Decl., Ex. 1. RJR's disclosures identified several additional fact witnesses, all of whom "will testify regarding... [RJR's] understanding of its commitments to consumers as a result of the Camel Cash promotions." Id.

On May 4, 2015, during a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for approval of class notice, RJR acknowledged that it had served plaintiffs with supplemental disclosures and stated that it "would be happy" to make the newly identified witnesses available to plaintiffs for depositions. Stone Decl., Ex. A (Hearing Transcript) at 16:1-3. RJR also stated that it did not know if it would "need to file a motion to reopen discovery." Id. at 16:7-8. In light of these statements, the Court suggested that the parties stipulate to continue the discovery cutoff to a date that would "permit [plaintiffs] to take the depositions." Id. at 16:9-12. The parties failed to stipulate to the proposed continuance.[1]

RJR subsequently filed the instant motion to reopen discovery on June 5, 2015, dkt. 180, which plaintiffs opposed on June 15, 2015, dkt. 183. RJR replied on June 22, 2015, dkt. 189, and plaintiffs filed a sur-reply on June 29, 2015, dkt. 191. Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A scheduling order may be modified only for good cause. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). In determining whether to reopen discovery, the Court considers such factors as "1) whether trial is imminent, 2) whether the request is opposed, 3) whether the non-moving party would be prejudiced, 4) whether the moving party was diligent in obtaining discovery within the guidelines established by the court, 5) the foreseeability of the need for additional discovery in light of the time allowed for discovery by the district court, and 6) the likelihood that the discovery will lead to relevant evidence." G.C. & K.B. Investments, Inc. v. ...


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