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Yates v. West Contra Costa Unified School District

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 20, 2017

FERNANDO YATES, Plaintiff,
v.
WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION REQUESTING PERMISSION TO FILE MOTION TO COMPEL Re: Dkt. No. 104

          MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Fernando Yates seeks permission to file a motion to compel. See Mot., Dkt. No. 104. Plaintiff argues Defendant West Contra Costa Unified School failed to identify certain emails in its amended disclosures, and improperly refused to respond to discovery requests. Id.

         A. Motion Requesting Permission to File Motion to Compel

         The Court's Standing Order re: Discovery prohibits parties from filing motions to compel:

No motions to compel shall be considered. Instead, the parties must meet and confer in person for the purpose of resolving all disputes[.]
If the parties are unable to meet and confer as directed above, or a moving party is unable to obtain the opposing party's portion of a joint letter after the meet and confer session, the moving party shall file a written request for a telephonic conference for the purpose of enforcing the Court's meet and confer requirement, or for the Court to fashion an alternative procedure. The written request shall include a declaration which state any attempt to meet and confer and/or obtain the joint letter, the reasons for the inability to comply with the standing order, and (if possible) three dates and times during which all parties are available for a telephonic conference. . . The Court will not excuse a party from the requisite in-person meeting unless good cause is shown.

See Standing Order re: Disc. ¶¶ 2-3 (emphasis in original).

         Plaintiff represents he met and conferred with Defendant's counsel, and that counsel refused to file a joint letter regarding the discovery dispute. See Mot. Plaintiff does not represent the parties met and conferred in person, and does not “include a declaration which states any attempt to meet and confer and/or obtain the joint letter, [or] the reasons for the inability to comply with the standing order.” Standing Order ¶ 3. Plaintiff does not show good cause for being unable to meet and confer in person. In fact, such good cause would be hard to show under the circumstances. Based on the documents Plaintiff attaches to his Motion, Plaintiff filed his Motion three days after Defendant served its discovery responses. See Mot. The meet and confer requirement is not a pro forma matter; the parties must do so “in good faith to attempt to resolve their disputes.” Standing Order ¶ 2. Plaintiff's filing does not explain how the parties “in good faith . . . attempt[ed] to resolve their disputes” in those three days, and does not demonstrate the parties reached an impasse. The Court and the parties share the responsibility to resolve disputes in a “just, speedy, and inexpensive” manner. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. By not first engaging in a meaningful in-person meet and confer with Defendant, Plaintiff's approach contravenes this goal.

         The dispute is not ripe for the Court, and Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED without prejudice. The parties MUST meet and confer in person regarding this discovery dispute before filing a joint letter brief, or must certify why they could not do so.

         B. Guidance re: Discovery Requests

         To guide the parties' anticipated in-person meet and confer discussions, the Court provides the following observations regarding the discovery requests and responses Plaintiff attached to his Motion:

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(A)(ii) requires parties to disclose copies or descriptions of “all documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things hat the disclosing party has in its possession, custody, or control and may use to support its claims or defenses, unless the use would be solely for impeachment.” Defendant's failure to produce the emails Plaintiff lists does not “deceive” the Court; rather, it indicates Defendant does not intend to rely on these documents to support its claims or defenses, except for impeachment purposes.[1] If Defendant improperly attempts to rely on the documents Plaintiff identifies for purposes other than impeachment, only then may Plaintiff object on the ground Defendant did not list the documents in its disclosures.

         Plaintiff also identifies seven interrogatories he contends Defendant failed to adequately answer. Mot. at 2. These correspond to Special Interrogatories 7-13. See id. at ECF pp. 9-12. Defendant responded to Interrogatories 8 and 9, but objects the remaining Interrogatories are vague, ambiguous, unintelligible, assume facts not in evidence, lack foundation, and are not full and complete in themselves. Id. The Court agrees with Defendant that the majority of the Interrogatories are difficult to understand, and the meet and confer process will give Plaintiff the opportunity to clarify his requests.

         Finally, Plaintiff argues Defendant refuses to produce requested documents. See Mot. at 1; see also ECF pp. 6-8 (Defendant's Responses to Requests for Production (“RFPs”)). Plaintiff does not indicate the particular requests for which Defendant has allegedly withheld responsive documents. Defendant has not refused to produce documents: in response to RFP Nos. 1 and 2, Defendant indicates it already produced documents and identifies specific Bates-numbered documents that are responsive to the RFPs. Id. Defendant need not produce documents that already have been produced. During the meet and confer process, Plaintiff should explain the basis for his belief that Defendant is withholding other responsive documents. Defendant objects to RFP No. 3, which seeks “[e]-mails indi[c]ating plaintiff the correct dates on his letter of resignation form, hand[ed in] to him on November 14, 2014.” ECF p. 8. Defendant objects that the request is overbroad, vague, ambiguous, unintelligible, assumes facts not in evidence, lacks foundation, and states it cannot ...


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