United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE NO. 2: DENYING
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL [DKT. NO. 84]
NITA L. STORMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the parties' Joint Motion for Determination
of Discovery Dispute No. 2. (Dkt. No. 84.) Having considered
the arguments presented by both parties and for the reasons
set forth herein, the Court DENIES
Plaintiffs' motion to compel further responses to
Interrogatory Nos. 22 and 23.
Relevant Factual and Procedural Background
case presents claims related to the Fair Housing Act
(“FHA”) and alleged discrimination based on
familial status. (See Dkt. No. 29.) At the outset of
this case, Plaintiffs Blanton and Joa alleged identical
claims against Defendants, including claims for
discrimination in violation of the FHA and the California
Fair Employment and Housing Act (“CFEHA”).
(See Dkt. No. 29.)
discovery dispute arose previously, and Defendants raised the
question of Plaintiffs' standing to pursue FHA and CFEHA
based claims for discriminatory housing practices. (Dkt No.
65.) In response, this Court denied the pending motion to
compel without prejudice, and set a deadline for briefing
regarding Plaintiffs' standing to continue to pursue
their discrimination claims. (Dkt. No. 66.) Defendants moved
to dismiss each of the Plaintiffs' FHA and CFEHA claims.
(Dkt. No. 72.) The Court dismissed Ms. Joa's claims, but
permitted Ms. Blanton's claims to proceed. (Dkt. No. 83.)
This dispute now arises for the second time.
Blanton and Joa both seek to compel further
responses to interrogatories propounded solely by Ms. Joa.
(Dkt. No 84, pg. 2:12-13; pg. 10:26-27; Dkt. 84-3, Ex. 1.)
Specifically, Plaintiffs move to compel responses to
Interrogatory Nos. 22 and 23, which seek information for each
of TPPM's rental units relating to, in sum, the
size/layout and occupancy of each unit within 14 geographical
zip code areas. (Dkt. No. 84, at II.C.)
argue that responses to the interrogatories are relevant to
Ms. Blanton's remaining discrimination claims, and are
necessary for expert statistical analysis of disparate
impact. (Id. at II.D.) Defendant Torrey Pines
Property Management (“TPPM”) objects to Ms.
Blanton's continued pursuit of responses to
interrogatories based upon lack of standing to compel
responses as Ms. Blanton was not the propounding party. TPPM
also objects that the discovery is irrelevant, over-broad,
oppressive and unduly burdensome, and invades the
Defendant's privacy and requests commercially protected
information. (Id. at II.F-G.)
Plaintiff Blanton Lacks Standing to Compel a
to compel responses to interrogatories are governed by Rule
37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As a threshold
matter, the party pursuing a motion to compel must have
standing to bring the motion. Payne v. Exxon Corp.,
121 F.3d 503, 510 (9th Cir. 1997) (“Only ‘the
discovering party' … may bring a motion to
compel.”); Loop AI Labs v. Gatti, No.
15-cv-00798-HSG (DMR), 2016 WL 4474584, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
114247, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2016) (“under Rule
37(a) … a party lacks standing to move to compel
answers to a different party's discovery
parties do not dispute that Interrogatory Nos. 22 and 23 were
propounded by Ms. Joa only. (See Dkt. 84-3, Ex. 1.)
Ms. Blanton is not the propounding party, and lacks standing
to compel responses under Rule 37. Payne v. Exxon
Corp., 121 F.3d 503, 510 (9th Cir. 1997); Loop AI
Labs v. Gatti, No. 15-cv-00798-HSG (DMR), 2016 WL
4474584, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114247, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Aug.
25, 2016). See also, In re Urethane Antitrust
Litig., 237 F.R.D. 454 (D. Kan. 2006) (non-settling
defendants lack standing to seek enforcement of settled
defendant's discovery requests).
argue that in any event Ms. Joa should get the discovery
because she and Ms. Blanton overlapped in time at the subject
apartments and were subject to the same occupancy policy.
(See Dkt. 29, ¶¶ 14-17, 19-21.) The Court
does not find this timing overlap to be enough of a tie
between the Plaintiffs so as to allow the requested
discovery. Even though Ms. Joa and Ms. Blanton are
co-plaintiffs, their alleged claims arise out of different
sets of facts. (Id.) While Ms. Joa and Ms. Blanton
were arguably tied together by the same question of law
regarding whether they each suffered familial status
discrimination due to the occupancy policy, that tie was
severed when the district judge found that Ms. Joa did not
suffer any concrete injury for any alleged violation of the
FHA or CFEHA. (Dkt. No. 83.) Further, at the time of the
filing of the complaint and propounding of the discovery,
Plaintiffs were aware of the fact that Ms. Joa did not suffer
any concrete injury for any alleged violation of the FHA or
FEHA because TPPM did not begin to enforce its occupancy
policy against Ms. Joa until 2014, when all of her children
had already reached the age of majority. (See Dkt.
No. 29, ¶ 20.) While aware of these distinct factual
scenarios, Plaintiffs decided to serve the interrogatories
that related to the discrimination claims and issue of
disparate impact only in Ms. Joa's name. Plaintiffs'
should have been aware that Ms. Joa did not have standing to
assert such claims. In sum, not only is there no standing,
but there is no common set of facts or common question of
federal law that binds these Plaintiffs together as to these
Plaintiffs cite to no authority permitting a party to compel
responses to discovery propounded in another party's
name. This Court found only one case that permitted a motion
to compel to proceed when the interrogatories were propounded
in another party's name. In Morden v. T-Mobile USA,
Inc. (“Morden”), No. C05-2112RSM,
2006 WL 1727987, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42047, at *4 (W.D.
Wash. June 22, 2006), plaintiff Morden propounded discovery
requests for the purposes of class certification relating to
“off the clock” claims in a Fair Labor Standards
Act case. Id. at *1-2. The discovery was propounded
prior to the time that Plaintiff Siddiqui, who asserted the
“off the clock” violations, joined the action.
Id. at *3-4. There, the Washington District Court
held that in the absence of any authority from the parties
regarding standing, and in light of the ability of Plaintiff
Siddiqui to propound identical discovery, the Court's
time and resources were best served by addressing the merits
of the motion. Id. at *4.
facts of the case before the Court are distinguishable from
Morden, and compel a different result. Here,
Defendant TPPM cited to relevant authority that precludes the
unnamed party from pursuing a motion to compel. (Dkt. 84,
pgs. 11:13-12:6, citing Payne v. Exxon Corp., 121
F.3d 503, 510 (9th Cir. 1997) and In re Urethane
Antitrust Litig., 237 F.R.D. 454 (D. Kan. 2006).) Fact
discovery closed November 30, 2016; precluding Plaintiff
Blanton from issuing identical discovery and eliminating any
saved resources for the Court or parties. (See Dkt.
51, Scheduling Order.) Plaintiffs also assert that they have
not exceeded the permitted 25 written interrogatories because
each Plaintiff may propound 25 separate written
interrogatories. (Dkt. 84, pg. 10:20-24.) Plaintiffs thereby