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

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 8, 2016

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



         Plaintiff A.V., through his guardian ad litem Concepcion Varela, challenges actions taken by Panama-Buena Vista Union School District related to his education. Defendant seeks to compel Plaintiff to provide additional responses to its Requests for Production; Interrogatories Nos. 32, 33, and 34; and Requests for Admission. (Docs. 78-79) For the following reasons, Defendant’s motion to compel discovery is GRANTED IN PART.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff 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.

         Defendant seeks to compel Plaintiff to provide additional discovery responses to its request for production of documents, interrogatories, and requests for admission.[1] (Docs. 78-79)

         II.Scope of Discovery and Requests

         The scope and limitations of discovery are set forth by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) states:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged manner that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense - including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things…For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the accident. Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

         Relevant evidence is defined as “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. Relevancy to a subject matter is interpreted “broadly to encompass 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, 351 (1978).

         III. Discussion and Analysis

         Under the Federal Rules, “[a] party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an answer, designation, production or inspection” when “a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33; or . . . a party fails to respond that inspection will be permitted - or fails to permit inspection - as requested under Rule 34.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). Here, Defendant asserts Plaintiff failed to adequately respond to document requests, interrogatories, and requests for admission.

         A.Requests for Production

         A party may request documents “in the responding party’s possession, custody, or control.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1). A request is adequate if it describes items with “reasonable particularity;” specifies a reasonable time, place, and manner for the inspection; and specifies the form or forms in which electronic information can be produced. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b). Thus, a request is sufficiently clear if it “places the party upon ‘reasonable notice of what is called for and what is not.’” Kidwiler v. Progressive Paloverde Ins. Co., 192. F.R.D. 193, 202 (N.D. W.Va. 2000) (quoting Parsons v. Jefferson-Pilot Corp., 141 F.R.D. 408, 412 (M.D. N.C. 1992)); see also Schwarzer, Tashima & Wagstaffe, California Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial (Rev. #1 2011) Discovery, para. 11:1886 (“the apparent test is whether a respondent of average intelligence would know what items to produce”).

         The responding party must respond in writing and is obliged to produce all specified relevant and non-privileged documents, tangible things, or electronically stored information in its “possession, custody, or control” on the date specified. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a). Actual possession, custody or control is not required. “A party may be ordered to produce a document in the possession of a non-party entity if that party has a legal right to obtain the document or has control over the entity who is in possession of the document.” Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 620 (N.D. Cal. 1995). Such documents include documents under the control of the party’s attorney. Meeks v. Parson, 2009 WL 3303718 (E.D. Cal. September 18, 2009); Axler ...

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