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Wormuth v. Lammersville Union School District

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 8, 2017



         Defendant asks the court to reconsider the magistrate judge's order requiring the defendant District to produce documents it says were privileged. Notice of Req., ECF No. 68; Mem. P. & A. In Support of Req. for Reconsideration (“Req.”), ECF No. 70. On the same day, plaintiffs opposed the request. Opp'n, ECF No. 69. For the reasons discussed below, the court DENIES the request to reconsider the magistrate judge's order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In August 2016, plaintiffs served defendant Lammersville Union School District (“LUSD” or “District”) with Requests for Production, Set One. Hansen Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 36-1. As relevant here, Request for Production No. 21 sought “[a]ny investigation records related to any allegation of misconduct by any named defendant.” Joint Statement at 4, ECF No. 36.

         In the following months, the parties agreed to a series of extensions for LUSD to respond to the requests, with December 1, 2016 as the ultimate due date. Hansen Decl. ¶ 2. On that date, LUSD timely responded. Id. LUSD objected to Request for Production No. 21 in part because plaintiffs' request sought privileged documents. See Req. at 4.

         In mid-January 2017, the parties met and conferred regarding LUSD's responses. Hansen Decl. ¶ 2; id. Ex. 1, ECF No. 36-2. In three meet-and-confer letters, plaintiffs repeatedly asked LUSD for a detailed privilege log so they could assess LUSD's privilege claims. Hansen Decl. Exs. 1-3, ECF Nos. 36-2-4. In their final letter, plaintiffs set a February 2, 2017 deadline for LUSD to produce a log, after which they would seek the court's involvement. Id. Ex. 3 at 2.

         On February 10, 2017, the parties submitted a joint statement regarding discovery disputes. See Joint Statement. Plaintiffs asked the court to order LUSD to produce a privilege log. Id. at 6-7. LUSD explained it could not prepare a log given the breadth of plaintiffs' request, but nonetheless offered to produce one. Id. at 11-12.

         The magistrate judge construed the joint statement as a motion to compel and held an April 5, 2017 motion hearing. ECF No. 41. At hearing, the magistrate judge found LUSD waived any privilege by its failure to timely produce a privilege log. April 5, 2017 Transcript at 32:2-3, ECF No. 50. The magistrate judge granted plaintiffs' motion as to their Request for Production No. 21. Id. at 17:21-22; Discovery Order at 2, ECF No. 42 (signed and filed on April 11, 2017).

         LUSD asked the magistrate judge to reconsider his waiver ruling. Am. Suppl. Joint Statement at 6-7, ECF No. 47. At hearing on the motion to reconsider, the magistrate first explained LUSD's request violated Local Rule 230(j) because it was not formally noticed for hearing and did not explain what new or different facts existed to support its request. May 3, 2017 Transcript at 16-17, ECF No. 64. The magistrate judge nonetheless denied LUSD's reconsideration request on the merits. Id. at 17-18 (citing Burlington Northern & Sante Fe Ry. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for the Dist. of Mont., 408 F.3d 1142 (9th Cir. 2005)). The magistrate judge denied the request for reconsideration. Id. at 19:17-18; Reconsideration Order at 2, ECF No. 61 (signed and filed on May 4, 2017).

         On May 18, 2017, LUSD filed its request here for reconsideration of the magistrate judge's most recent order denying reconsideration.

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) directs district judges to consider timely objections to nondispositive pretrial orders issued by magistrate judges and to “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” See also Local Rule 303(f); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). The “contrary to law” standard permits independent review of a magistrate judge's legal determinations. See, e.g., Brooks v. Motsenbocker Advanced Developments, Inc., 2008 WL 3049983, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2008) (citing Haines v. Liggett Group, Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91 (3d Cir. 1992)). The “clearly erroneous” standard applies to the magistrate judge's factual determinations and discretionary decisions. Maisonville v. F2 Am., Inc., 902 F.2d 746, 748 (9th Cir. 1990).

         “A finding is ‘clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing [body] on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Concrete Pipe and Prods. v. Constr. Laborers Pension Trust, 508 U.S. 602, 622 (1993) (quoting United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)). “[R]eview under the ‘clearly erroneous' standard is significantly deferential[.]” Id. at 623. “To succeed [on a motion for reconsideration], a party must set forth facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior decision.” Enriquez v. City of Fresno, No. CV F 10-0581 AWI DLB, 2011 WL 1087149, at *1, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 23, 2011). Furthermore, when filing a motion for reconsideration, a party must show “what new or different facts or circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist for the motion.” Local Rule 230(j)(3). “A motion for reconsideration ‘may not be used to raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation.'” Marlyn Nutraceuticals, Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co., 571 F.3d 873, 880 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000)).


         A. Timeliness and ...

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