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Nehad v. Browder

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 15, 2016

S.R. NEHAD, an individual, K.R. NEHAD, an individual, ESTATE OF FRIDOON RAWSHAN NEHAD, an entity, Plaintiffs,
NEAL N. BROWDER, an individual, and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants.


          Hon. Nita L. Stormes United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration of this Court’s earlier discovery ruling on the Joint Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute Number 2. (Dkt. No. 90.) Plaintiffs filed an Opposition, and also requested sanctions for the amount of expenses incurred in opposing the motion. (Dkt. No. 95.) Defendants filed a Reply. (Dkt. No. 98.) District Judge Hayes referred this motion to the undersigned based on the new information presented in Defendants’ motion. (Dkt. No. 99.) Having reviewed and considered the papers submitted, the Court DENIES Defendants’ motion for reconsideration in its entirety and DENIES Plaintiffs’ request for sanctions.

         I. Relevant Background

         The parties and the undersigned are familiar with the background of the case and the underlying discovery dispute, and so the Court only briefly summarizes the dispute here. In the Joint Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute No. 2, the parties requested the Court’s involvement in resolving discovery disputes regarding approximately forty separate requests for production and interrogatories. Among those requests, Plaintiffs moved to compel Defendants to provide further responses to their Request for Production No. 34 (“RFP 34”.) That request sought “DOCUMENTS RELATING TO YOUR investigations of any officer involved shootings, from 2010 to the present.” Defendants objected on various grounds, including undue burden. They contended that the search would “yield dozens of investigations, thousands of pages of documents” and that “[t]o review such investigations would require thousands of man-house to copy, sift through, redact etc.” (Dkt. No. 68 at 17.)

         In considering and ruling on RFP No. 34, the Court narrowed the scope of the discovery “to only seek responsive documents from the past three years (as opposed to five years), and to the internal affairs/investigation files for incidents involving officer-involved shootings that resulted in physical injury or death (as opposed to any incident in which an officer fired his or her weapon).” (Dkt. No. 83 at 16.) The Court thus ordered Defendants to provide further responses to Plaintiffs’ requests for documents pertaining to investigations, including internal affairs files, of officer-involved shootings that resulted in physical injury or death from 2013 to the present. (Id. at 19.)

         On May 23, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for reconsideration and objections to that ruling under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a). The parties briefed the matter, and on June 30, 2016, District Judge Hayes referred the motion for reconsideration to the undersigned.

         II. Legal Standard

         Because this Court cannot review its prior ruling under Rule 72(a), the Court construes the motion as a request for reconsideration under the Court’s inherent authority to reconsider interlocutory orders.[1] The Court maintains an inherent authority to reconsider all interlocutory orders. Amarel v. Connell, 102 F.3d 1494, 1515 (9th Cir.1996); Abada v. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., 127 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1102 (S.D. Cal. 2000) (“District courts retain inherent authority to revise interim or interlocutory orders any time before entry of judgment”). Motions for reconsideration are “not to re-hash arguments the court has already thought through, or present arguments or evidence for the first time which could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation. It is not a vehicle for a ‘second bite at the apple, ’ ‘after thoughts, ’ or ‘shifting of ground.’” Salazar v. Monaco Enters., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167081 (E.D. Wash. Dec. 14, 2015) (citation omitted).

         III. Discussion

         a. Defendants’ Objection Based on Burden

         Defendants object to the discovery ruling on the grounds that Plaintiffs’ request is unduly burdensome and disproportional to the needs of the case. (Dkt. No. 90-1 at 6.) Defendants argue that in making the earlier discovery ruling, the Court omitted discussion of other investigations, such as homicide investigations, which contain thousands of pages of documents. (Dkt. No. 90-1 at 8, 10-11.) Defendants assert the burden imposed is not proportional to the needs of the case because although roughly $12, 000 in expenses may not seem unduly burdensome at first blush, it would be unduly burdensome to require Defendants to engage in thousands of hours of labor to review and analyze the more than 15, 000 pages of documents, 403 compact discs, and possibly 217 DVDs for privacy redactions and accuracy. (Dkt. No. 98 at 2-3, 8; see also Dkt. No. 91 at ¶ 8.) They also argue the ruling should be narrowed so that Defendants only need to provide Internal Affairs Investigation summaries from April 30, 2013 through April 30, 2015, because any documents thereafter are irrelevant. (Id.)

         Plaintiffs respond that the Court’s earlier order was neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to law, and that the discovery sought is relevant. (Dkt. No. 95 at 10.) They contend Defendants’ argument fails because they present new evidence not previously submitted, including a specific recounting of documents plus their “roughly $12, 000” calculation of expenses. (Id. at 11.) They maintain Defendants also make no effort to show this expense would create an undue strain on their resources. (Id.) They further contend Defendants fail to explain why documents after April 30, 2015 would not be relevant, particularly given that Defendants do not assert the SDPD’s policy changed following the shooting incident in this case. (Id. at 10-11.)

         The Court is unpersuaded by Defendants’ burden arguments. Defendants provide no persuasive reason why they failed to present the quantitative information regarding the estimated cost and the amount of documents and things in the briefing on the joint motion for determination of discovery dispute. Defendants summarily contend they could not have determined the estimated amount of costs or the estimated amount of documents to be reviewed before the Court’s ruling on this discovery request. Not so. Defendants were well aware of the scope of the discovery request, and Defendants had the obligation of explaining and supporting its burden objection when the dispute was first brought before the Court. Bryant v. Ochoa, 2009 WL 1390794 at *1 (S.D. Cal. May 14, 2009) (“the party opposing discovery has the burden of showing that the discovery should be prohibited, and the burden of clarifying, explaining or supporting its objections.”) Defendants did not gather information about the estimated costs or number of documents that would need to be reviewed despite the fact that these arguments and evidence could have, and should have, been raised at the time the parties first brought this dispute before the Court. Defendants’ attempt at a second bite of the apple by presenting evidence and argument that should have been raised earlier frustrates the systematic efficiencies of the judicial process. Their belated attempt to re-hash arguments the Court has already thought through is unavailing.

         Likewise unavailing is Defendants’ argument that documents after April 30, 2015 bear no relevance on Plaintiff’s claims and thus would be unduly burdensome to produce. As Plaintiffs aptly noted, Defendants have not explained why these documents would not be relevant, nor have they asserted the San Diego Police ...

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