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Embotteladora Electropura S.A. de C. V. v. Accutek Packaging Equipment Co., Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 1, 2017

EMBOTTELADORA ELECTROPURA S.A. de C.V., an El Salvador corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
ACCUTEK PACKAGING EQUIPMENT COMPANY, INC., a California corporation; and DOES 1 through 25, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT ACCUTEK'S EX PARTE MOTION FOR DETERMINATION DISCOVERY DISPUTE [ECF NO. 22]

          DAVID H. BARTICK, United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         On March 30, 2017, Defendant Accutek Packaging Equipment Company, Inc. (“Defendant”) filed an Ex Parte Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute. (ECF No. 22.) Defendant seeks to compel amended responses to two requests for admissions and an interrogatory. (Id. at 2-3.) Upon review of the motion, the Court ordered Plaintiff Embotteladora Electopura S.A. de C.V. (“Plaintiff”) to file a response in opposition to the motion by April 12, 2017 and Defendant to file a reply by April 19, 2017. (ECF No. 23.) On April 17, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Non-Receipt of Opposition to Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute. (ECF No. 24.) To date, Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to Defendant's motion. Having considered Defendant's motion and Plaintiff's non-opposition, the Court FINDS and ORDERS as follows:

         BACKGROUND

         In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant knowingly made false representations regarding its Monoblock rinse, fill and capping system (“Monoblock”) as best suited to satisfy Plaintiff's water bottling production needs. (ECF No. 1.)

         Specifically, Plaintiff alleges: (1) Defendant made fraudulent representations about the suitability and construction of the Monoblock, which Plaintiff reasonably relied upon, resulting in damages; (2) Defendant failed to disclose to Plaintiff that the Monoblock was incapable of performing in accordance with Defendant's representations, that the Monoblock was actually incapable of satisfying Plaintiff's water bottling production needs, that the Monoblock was manufactured from defective materials which rusted and cracked in normal use and its components were not made of “sanitary stainless steel, ” as represented, and Plaintiff's justifiable reliance on Defendant's representations and concealed material facts caused Plaintiff to suffer lost sales, lost profits, and other damages; (3) Defendant negligently made materially false representation and Plaintiff sustained damages as a result its justifiable reliance upon those representations; (4) Defendant breached an in part written and in part oral agreement with Plaintiff by failing to deliver the Monoblock in conformance with Defendant's representations and capable of satisfying Plaintiff's water bottling production needs as discussed in the negotiations leading up to contract formation; (Id.)

         Plaintiff also alleges: (5) Defendant breached its express warranty that one Monoblock was capable of bottling water at the rate of “up to 7, 200 BPH, ” that the Monoblock Plaintiff purchased could bottle water at the rate of “up to 11, 000 BPH, ” that the Monoblock was manufactured from “quality stainless steel” and, thus, would not rust, by delivering a nonconforming Monoblock to Plaintiff which was unusable for its intended use resulting in substantial out-of-pocket expenses and damages; (6) Defendant, as a merchant, breached implied warranties that the Monoblock would be of merchantable quality and be fit for its intended use by Plainitff due to deficiencies and defects in the design, manufacture and materials, which rendered the Monoblock unusable by Plaintiff and caused substantial out-of-pocket expenses and damages; and (7) Defendant was unjustly enriched at Plaintiff's expense. (Id.)

         On December 2, 2016, the Honorable Louisa S Porter, United States Magistrate Judge, issued a scheduling order regulating discovery and other pre-trial proceedings. (ECF No. 19.) In that motion, Judge Porter orders that all discovery under Rules 30-36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure be completed by August 4, 2017. (Id. at 2.) Although the Court expects counsel to make every effort to resolve all disputes without its intervention, parties are permitted to file a joint motion if impasse is reached. (Ibid.) Also, the Court cautions that failure to comply with any of the Court's discovery orders may result in the sanctions provided for in Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. (Id. at 3.)

         On January 17, 2017, Defendant propounded both its requests for admissions and interrogatories, set number one, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 33 and 36 on Plaintiff. (ECF No. 22-1 at 5-9, 52-56.) Plaintiff responded to Defendant's requests for admissions on February 16, 2017. (Id. at 58-66.) On February 24, 2017, Defendant's counsel sent Plaintiff's counsel a meet and confer letter detailing specific responses Plaintiff provided in its initial responses which Defendant believed were improper or inadequate. (Id. at 84-88.) On March 17, 2017, counsel for both parties held a verbal meet and confer teleconference, memorialized in an email, where Plaintiff expressed that it would stand by its responses to Requests for Admissions Nos. 20 and 21 and to Interrogatory No. 1 as to Request for Admission No. 9. (Id. at 90.) On March 21, 2017, Defendant's counsel provided Plaintiff's counsel a proposed joint motion for determination of discovery dispute, including all exhibits and supporting materials, for Plaintiff's input to be included. (Id. at 92.) Defendant advised Plaintiff that it would file an ex parte application if it did not receive Plaintiff's position by March 30, 2017. (Id.)

         On March 30, 2017, Defendant filed an ex parte motion for determination of a discovery dispute after its unsuccessful attempt to file a joint motion. (ECF No. 22.) Upon review of the motion, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file a response in opposition to the motion by April 12, 2017 and Defendant to file a reply by April 19, 2017. (ECF No. 23.) On April 17, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Non-Receipt of Opposition to Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute. (ECF No. 24.) To date, Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to Defendant's motion.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         1. Requests for Admissions

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a) permits a party to serve any other party with a written request to admit any matters within the scope of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) relating to facts. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1)(A). “The purpose of Rule 36(a) is to expedite trial by establishing certain material facts as true and thus narrowing the range of issues for trial.” Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1981). In response, a party may admit the fact, specifically deny it, or state in detail why the party cannot truthfully admit or deny. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(4). “A denial must fairly respond to the substance of the matter; and when good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of a matter, the answer must specify the part admitted and qualify or deny the rest.” Id. “[A]n evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4).

         If the requesting party contends that the response is insufficient, the party may “move to determine the sufficiency of an answer or objection.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(6). If the court finds that an answer does not comply with Rule 36, “the court may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served.” Id. Ordinarily, the court should “first order an amended answer, and deem the matter admitted only if a sufficient answer is not timely filed.” Asea, Inc., 669 F.2d at 1247. ...


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