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Shim-Larkin v. City of New York

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 17, 2017

Heena Shim-Larkin, Plaintiff,
City of New York, Defendant.


          Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers United States District Court Judge

         Plaintiff brings this miscellaneous action in the Northern District of California to compel compliance with a subpoena issued against third-party Remind, a technology company located in this district, stemming from her pending litigation in the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”). (See Dkt. No. 1-1 at 10 (subpoena issued to Remind in Shim-Larkin v. City of New York, No. 16-CV-6099 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2016)).) The case was originally assigned to Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu, where plaintiff filed a motion to compel compliance with her subpoena, for sanctions, and for transfer of the enforcement action to the SDNY. (Dkt. No. 5.)[1]Magistrate Judge Ryu denied the latter two but granted in part Plaintiff's motion to compel. (Dkt. No. 20.)

         Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for relief from Magistrate Judge Ryu's denial of her motion to transfer and denial in part of her motion to compel. (Dkt. No. 21.) Plaintiff does not seek relief from Magistrate Judge Ryu's order denying her motion for sanctions.

         Having carefully reviewed the pleadings, the papers submitted on this motion, Magistrate Judge Ryu's order, and the transcript of the proceedings held on April 27, 2017, and for the reasons set forth more fully below, the Court Denies Plaintiff's motion.

         I. Background

         In the underlying lawsuit in the SDNY, plaintiff is suing her former employer, the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation for wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment in a hostile work environment, and other related claims. Relevant to this motion, plaintiff alleges that she, and others in the department, used a phone-based application developed by Remind to communicate with each other, and their supervisor, Marty Kravitz, during her employment. Plaintiff believes that such communications between Kravitz and other employees are relevant to establishing that Kravitz discriminated against her due to her race and her disabilities.

         On such bases, plaintiff issued a subpoena on Remind seeking: (1) “Every [sic] account information of M. Kravitz;” and (2) “[a]ll of his message history with others from 6/30/2015 through 2/1/2016.” (Dkt. No. 6, Exhibit 1.) Kravitz's message history indicated that he sent messages through Remind to at least 472 people. The record reflects that Remind worked with plaintiff to narrow such requests using specific search terms, and Remind subsequently produced documents responsive to those terms prior to October 25, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 14.) Plaintiff, however, found such disclosures lacking, identifying certain information that she believed was missing[2] and demanding again that Remind produce Kravitz's entire message history. (Dkt. No. 5 at 7.) Additionally, the parties dispute what constitutes “account information.” Remind communicated to plaintiff that “account information” included only the user's email address or phone number, whereas plaintiff requested more data including the date he opened his account, his device type, and the operating system Kravitz used. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 12-13.)[3]Magistrate Judge Ryu provided plaintiff the following relief:

Counsel for Remind shall investigate whether Remind can search M. Kravitz's message history with non-Remind users. If possible, Remind shall produce transcripts of Kravitz's message history with Plaintiff's phone number (provided at hearing) and Miguel Morel's phone number (to be provided by Plaintiff to Remind's counsel) for the time period 6/30/2015 through 2/1/2016. Remind shall include transcripts of messages from Kravitz to Morel even where Morel was not the only recipient (i.e., where Morel was a recipient of a group message from Kravitz). Remind's counsel shall communicate directly with Plaintiff regarding a reasonable timeline for production, and Remind shall authenticate any information produced to Plaintiff in accordance with the court's order. Remind shall also produce the phone number and email address associated with Kravitz's Remind account.

(Dkt. No. 20 at 1.) Remind represents that it has fully complied with Magistrate Judge Ryu's order and has produced the “message history with the two named individuals.” (Dkt. No. 23 at 3.)

         II. Legal Standard

         District courts review a magistrate judge's factual determinations for clear error, and “the district court may only set aside those factual determinations if it is left with a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” E.E.O.C. v. Peters' Bakery, 301 F.R.D. 482, 484 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (quoting Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 268 F.R.D. 344, 348 (N.D. Cal. 2010)). “[T]he magistrate's legal conclusions are reviewed de novo to determine whether they are contrary to law.” Id. (quoting Perry, 268 F.R.D. at 348).

         “When a discovery order centers on a magistrate's determination of relevance, ‘the standard of review in most instances is not the explicit statutory language, but the clearly implicit standard of abuse of discretion.'” Id. at 484-85 (quoting Geophysical Sys. Corp. v. Raytheon Co., Inc., 117 F.R.D. 646, 647 (C.D. Cal. 1987)). District courts should not disturb the magistrate judge's relevance determination except where based on “an erroneous conclusion of law or where the record contains no evidence on which [the magistrate] rationally could have based that decision.” Wolpin v. Philip Morris Inc., 189 F.R.D. 418, 422 (C.D. Cal. 1999).

         III. Discussion

         A. ...

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