United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR REASONABLE
EXPENSES AND SANCTIONS AGAINST DEFENDANT CFMG RE: DKT. NO.
VAN KEULEN United States Magistrate Judge.
move for an order granting monetary sanctions against
Defendant CFMG. ECF 118. Defendant CFMG filed an opposition,
and Plaintiffs filed a reply. ECF 123, 127. Defendant CFMG
also filed a motion to strike evidence submitted with
Plaintiffs' reply. ECF 128. Both motions are deemed
suitable for determination without oral argument. Based on
the moving and responding papers, the Court grants the motion
for sanctions for the reasons and in the amount set forth
RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Rosemary Lopez, individually and as Administrator of the
Estate of Mark Vasquez Pajas, Sr.; Yvette Pajas; Mark Pajas,
Jr.; Janel Pajas; and Xavier Pajas (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”), successors in interest to Mark
Vasquez Pajas, Sr. (“Decedent”), allege that
Defendants County of Monterey, Steve Bernal, King City, King
City Police Department, Tony Sollecito, Steve Orozco,
California Forensic Medical Group (“CFMG”), and
Christina Kaupp are liable under federal and state law for
the death of Decedent.
bring this action as successors in interest to Decedent Mark
Vasquez Pajas, Sr. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 9-14.
Plaintiff Rosemary Lopez is Decedent's wife and the
Administrator of Decedent's Estate. Id.
¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiffs Yvette Pajas and Janel Pajas
are Decedent's daughters. Id. ¶¶ 11,
13. Plaintiffs Mark Pajas, Jr. and Xavier Pajas are
Decedent's sons. Id. ¶¶ 12, 14.
County of Monterey is a public entity organized and existing
under the laws of the State of California. Id.
¶ 15. The County contracts with Defendant CFMG to
provide medical, mental health, and dental services for the
Monterey County Jail. Id. ¶ 20. Defendant CFMG
is a California corporation headquartered in Monterey,
initiated this action in February 2016. On June 23, 2016, the
Court issued a case management order setting the close of
fact discovery for March 3, 2017. ECF 55 at 2. The parties
stipulated to and the Court ordered procedures to govern
discovery of electronically stored information
(“ESI”) on August 29, 2016. ECF 61, 67. On
January 13, 2017, the Court granted the parties'
stipulation to amend the case schedule, moving the close of
fact discovery to March 31, 2017. ECF 83. The Court
emphasized that no further extensions would be granted. ECF
83 at 2.
served their First Requests for Production of Documents
(“RFPs”) on CFMG on November 11, 2016, noticed a
30(b)(6) deposition on December 7, 2016, and proposed ESI
terms and custodians to CFMG on December 8, 2016. On December
14, 2016, the day CFMG's responses to Plaintiffs'
first set of RFPs were due, CFMG requested and Plaintiffs
granted a one week extension. On December 21, 2016, CFMG
served responses to Plaintiffs' RFPs, consisting almost
entirely of objections to the requests. CFMG indicated it
would produce some responsive documents shortly thereafter.
CFMG subsequently produced policy and procedure documents and
its contract with Monterey County Jail.
January 6, 2017, Plaintiffs provided notice to CFMG that
Plaintiffs intended to file a joint statement outlining
discovery disputes pursuant to then-presiding Magistrate
Judge Cousins's standing order. Plaintiffs provided their
portion of the letter to CFMG on January 10, 2017, informing
CFMG that they intended to file the letter on January 13,
2017. CFMG did not provide its portion of the letter, and
Plaintiffs filed their letter on January 13, 2017. ECF 84.
the matter was reassigned to the undersigned, the Court
requested a response from CFMG by January 27, 2017. On
January 16, 2017, CFMG supplemented its document production
to Plaintiffs. ECF 118 at 9. CFMG filed its statement
informing the Court of its supplemental production and the
status of the conflict on January 27, 2017. ECF 90. Together
the parties' submissions are the briefing on the motion
to compel which gives rise to Plaintiffs' request for
parties' numerous disputes and disagreements arose out of
the scope of the requests for production. An exemplar
request is RFP No. 36 which sought documents
related to “any death(s) of inmates who were
experiencing opiate, alcohol, and/or benzodiazepine
withdrawal and/or detoxification at California jails at which
CFMG provided health care services.” ECF 90 at 8.
The parties' disputes coalesced around three issues: 1)
the number of jails serviced by CFMG that were covered by the
requests; 2) the scope of inmate deaths covered by the
requests; and 3) production of ESI. As to the second
category, the scope of inmate deaths, this issue further
divided into two sub-issues: a) the types of withdrawal that
were covered by the requests; and b) whether the types of
withdrawal were experienced by inmates at the time
of death versus whether the types of withdrawal were an
actual cause of death.
Court held the first hearing on Plaintiffs' motion to
compel on January 31, 2017.
January 31 Hearing and Order
January 31, 2017 hearing, the parties informed the Court that
they had met and conferred further and resolved most of the
issues raised in Plaintiffs' January 13 submission.
Plaintiffs requested that the Court impose deadlines for CFMG
to provide further written responses, a supplemental
production of documents, and ESI searches.
Court agreed with Plaintiffs' approach and issued a
minute entry order, setting deadlines as follows:
• CFMG to produce any additional responsive documents to
outstanding RFPs that the parties addressed in the submitted
papers or during meet and confer efforts by February 3, 2017;
• CFMG to provide supplemental responses to
Plaintiffs' RFPs as necessary by February 3, 2017; and
• CFMG to identify custodians and search terms used for
its ESI searches by February 3, 2017. ECF 91.
light of the impending discovery cutoff of March 31, 2017,
the Court set the next discovery hearing for February 7,
2017, to ensure compliance with the deadlines set forth in
February 7 Hearing and Order
February 7, 2017 hearing, Plaintiffs reported that CFMG had
failed to comply with the above-referenced deadlines.
Plaintiffs argued that CFMG should have at least produced
documents from publicly reported deaths that occurred at
jails serviced by CFMG, which Plaintiffs asserted fell within
the scope of RFP No. 36. CFMG argued that it understood the
parties' agreement to limit CFMG's production to only
those documents related to inmates suffering from
opiate detoxification and/or withdrawal rather than
opiate, alcohol, and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal
and/or detoxification. Based upon this ...