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A.V. v. Panama Buena Vista Union School District

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 20, 2016

A.V., a minor by and through Guardian ad Litem CONCEPCION VARELA, Plaintiff,



         A.V., through his guardian ad litem Concepcion Varela, challenges actions taken by Panama-Buena Vista Union School District related to his education. Plaintiff asserts Ms. Varela speaks only Spanish and Gloria Zepeda, who is employed by Plaintiff's counsel, provided translation services between counsel and Ms. Varela. Plaintiff seeks "protective order prohibiting discovery related to communications, conversations, investigations, observations and impressions formed by Gloria Zepeda that relate to Plaintiff A.V. and his parents or investigations of facts because such discovery is prohibited by attorney-client privilege, work produce and confidentiality." (Doc. 72 at 2) Defendant objects to the issuance of a protective order, asserting Plaintiff has "no reasonable basis for a protective order to prevent the deposition of Gloria Zepeda." (Doc. 80 at 5, emphasis omitted) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for a protective order is GRANTED IN PART.

         I. Background

         A.V. asserts he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type. (Doc. 7 at 2). He alleges he "is a disabled student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act and has a suspected disability under the IDEA." (Id.) Plaintiff asserts he was "was consistently and regularly disciplined for behavioral incidents but the District failed to record his classroom removals." (Id. at 3) For example, Plaintiff contends that during the 2014-2015 school year, he "had been removed from school or classes in excess of 10-days due to behavioral issues" by October 2014. (Id.)

         Plaintiff participated in two special education administrative hearings, and contends "Defendant District failed to provide an assessment plan within statutory guidelines, failed to provide parent with procedural rights, failed to translate documents and failed to hold a legally compliant Manifestation Determination under both Section 504 and the IDEA." (Doc. 7 at 3) He now appeals the decisions rendered by the administrative law judge.

         Plaintiff reports that Gloria Zepeda attended IEPs and Early Resolution Sessions as an employee of Plaintiff's counsel, Nicole Amey. (Doc. 72) According to Plaintiff, Ms. Zepeda "is an advocate and translator for plaintiffs' attorney and worked in that capacity during due process hearings and during this instant lawsuit." (Id. at 2) After Defendant scheduled the deposition of Ms. Zepeda, Plaintiff's counsel requested that Defendant agree to not question Ms. Zepeda about conversations she had with Plaintiff or Plaintiff's mother while the attorney was present or other information protected by the attorney-client privilege. (See id; see also Doc. 80 at 2) However, the parties were not able to come to a formal agreement. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks a protective order regarding the scope of the deposition, and prohibiting questions "on communications or impressions made from conversations with the plaintiffs." (Doc. 72 at 2)

         Defendant filed its objection to the motion on June 3, 2016. (Doc. 80) In addition, in the opposition, the Defendant notified the Court of an additional dispute related to the deposition of Plaintiff. (See Id. at 3) Because raising the issue is not appropriate in the opposition, the Court declines to consider the dispute related to the deposition of Plaintiff A.V., and instead focuses solely on the issue addressed by both parties and raised by Plaintiff in his motion: the scope of Ms. Zepeda's deposition.

         II. Legal Standard

         The Court may issue a protective order to shield any party from undue burdens arising from discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c). Specifically, Rule 26 provides:

         The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:

(A) forbidding the disclosure or discovery;
(B) specifying terms, including time and place, for the disclosure or discovery;
(C) prescribing a discovery method other than the one selected by the party seeking discovery;
(D) forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or ...

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