United States District Court, E.D. California
MORGAN HILL CONCERNED PARENTS ASSOCIATION, an unincorporated association, and CONCERNED PARENTS ASSOCIATION, an unincorporated association, Plaintiffs,
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, and DOES 1 through 5, Defendant.
requests for reconsideration of the magistrate judge's
August 17, 2016 rulings are before the court. See
Aug. 17, 2016 Order (“MJ's Order”), ECF No.
229; Pls.' Req., ECF No. 236; Def.'s First Req., ECF
No. 239, Def.'s Second Req., ECF No. 240. The court has
already denied a portion of plaintiffs' request. March
12, 2017 Order, ECF No. 300. This order addresses the balance
of the requests and, for the reasons discussed below, DENIES
all of them.
The Magistrate Judge's Order
August 17, 2016, the magistrate judge issued an order
addressing three of the parties' motions. See
generally MJ's Order. For reasons explained in her
order, the magistrate judge denied defendant's motion for
a protective order, id. at 2-7; granted in part and
denied in part defendant's motion to compel, id.
at 7-14; and granted plaintiffs' motion for sanctions on
a limited basis and for a reduced amount, id. at
set of parties asks for reconsideration of portions of the
magistrate judge's order, as the court explains below.
See Pls.' Req.; Def.'s First Req.;
Def.'s Second Req.
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 purely
legal determinations by a magistrate judge. See,
e.g., Computer Economics, Inc. v. Gartner Grp.,
Inc., 50 F.Supp.2d 980, 983 (S.D. Cal. 1999) (citing,
inter alia, Haines v. Liggett Grp., Inc.,
975 F.2d 81, 91 (3d Cir. 1992)). The “clearly
erroneous” standard applies to the magistrate
judge's factual determinations and discretionary
decisions. See 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)) (alteration in original).
“[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 *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)).
Defendant's Motion to Compel
set of parties asks the court to reconsider portions of the
magistrate judge's order granting in part defendant's
motion to compel. See Pls.' Req. at 19-21;
Def's First Req. The court briefly summarizes the
magistrate judge's ruling on that motion.
The Magistrate Judge's Ruling
magistrate judge granted in part defendant's motion to
compel discovery regarding plaintiffs' members, including
members' identities and the factual bases for
members' allegations in the operative complaint. MJ's
Order at 7-14. To determine whether to compel discovery, the
magistrate judge looked to the two-part test articulated in
NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958). As the
magistrate judge explained, under NAACP, the court
first asks whether compelled disclosure would restrain a
party's rights of association; if it does, the court next
asks whether the information has a “substantial
bearing” on the issues involved in the litigation to
warrant disclosure. MJ's Order at 8-9 (citing
NAACP, 357 U.S. at 462-66).
NAACP's first step, the magistrate judge found
plaintiffs' declaration of Linda McNulty, the current
president of plaintiff Concerned Parents Association,
presented uncontroverted evidence that disclosure would
restrain plaintiffs' rights of association. MJ's
Order at 9 (citing McNulty Decl., ECF No. 221-1). Applying
NAACP's second step, the magistrate judge found
defendant established a convincing need for the information.
Id. at 10-11. As the magistrate judge explained,
although the case is statewide, plaintiffs' complaint
specifically alleged violations of the rights of seventeen
individual students, and defendant “needs to
know” the facts underlying those allegations in order
to defend itself. Id. (citing First Am. Compl.
(“FAC”) Ex. A, ECF No. 6-1). The magistrate judge
concluded disclosure was appropriate and turned to an issue
the NAACP Court never reached: how to protect the
association's rights in light of the disclosure.
Id. Because of the “uncontroverted risk of
retaliation by the LEAs [Local Education Agencies], ”
the magistrate judge ordered defendant, “under pain of
contempt, to ensure that LEAs do not retaliate against any
disclosed plaintiff or school child.” Id. at
12, 25. The magistrate judge next evaluated each discovery
request in turn, largely granting the motions to compel
regarding the seventeen students. Id. at 12-14.
Plaintiffs' Request for Reconsideration
ask the court to reconsider the magistrate judge's order
largely granting defendant's motion to compel. Pls.'
Req. at 19-21. Plaintiffs argue (1) the magistrate judge
wrongly concluded the discovery requests were limited to
seventeen students rather than all of plaintiffs' members
and (2) the magistrate judge misapplied NAACP when