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Schneider v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 24, 2017

MARTIN SCHNEIDER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER REGARDING JOINT DISCOVERY LETTERS RE: DKT. NOS. 60, 61

          KANDIS A. WESTMORE United States Magistrate Judge.

         On April 22, 2016, Plaintiffs Martin Schneider, Sarah Deigert, Laurie Reese, Theresa Gamage, Tiffanie Zangwill, and Nadia Parikka filed the instant putative class action against Defendant Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendant violated California, Maryland, Florida, and New York consumer protection laws when it began advertising that its foods were free of genetically modified organisms ("GMOs") in April 2015. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.)

         Currently pending before the Court are the parties' joint discovery letters, Dkt. Nos. 60 and 61. The Court deems the matter suitable for disposition without hearing pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). Having reviewed the papers filed by the parties and the relevant legal authority, the Court resolves the parties' discovery disputes as set forth below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 27, 2015, Defendant began its advertising campaign, "G-M-Over It." (Compl. ¶ 1.) In this campaign, Defendant represented that it was becoming the first fast food chain in the United States to have a "GMO free menu that uses 'only non-GMO ingredients.'" (Id.) Defendant produced ads stating, for example, that "'all' of [Defendant's] food is now non-GMO, " and that its foods have "No GMO" and were "made with no-GMO ingredients." (Compl. ¶¶ 35-36.) Defendant also advertised on its store fronts, stating "A Farewell to GMOs" and that "When it comes to our food, genetically modified ingredients don't make the cut;" similarly, Defendant's in-store signs stated: "Only non-GMO ingredients." (Compl. ¶¶ 37-38.)

         Plaintiffs allege that this campaign is misleading because Defendant: "(1) serves protein products such as beef, chicken, and pork from poultry and livestock that have been raised on GMO feed; (2) serves dairy products such as cheese and sour cream derived from cows raised on GMO feed; and (3) sells beverages such as Coca-Cola and Sprite that are loaded with corn-syrup derived from GMO corn." (Compl. ¶ 2; see also Compl. ¶¶ 41-43.) Plaintiffs now seek to represent four classes, made up of "All persons residing in California[, Maryland, Florida, and New York], during the period April 27, 2015 to the present, who purchased and/or paid for Chipotle Food Products."[1] (Compl. ¶¶ 56-59.)

         On November 30, 2016, the case was assigned to the undersigned for discovery purposes. (Dkt. No. 39.) The parties have now submitted two joint discovery letters. (Dkt. Nos. 60, 61.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 26(b)(1) permits discovery of "any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The "[i]nformation within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable." Id.

         Rule 34(a) provides:

A party may serve on any other party a request within the scope of Rule 26(b):
(1) to produce and permit the requesting party or its representative to inspect, copy, test, or sample the following items in the responding party's possession, custody, or control:
(A) any designated documents or electronically stored information--including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations--stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form; or
(B) any designated tangible things[.]

Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a).

         All discovery is subject to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C), which requires the court to limit discovery upon a finding (1) that the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive, (2) that the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information sought, or (3) that the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C).

         III. ...


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