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Garcia v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 31, 2017

SHEILA GARCIA, et al., Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Nita L. Stormes United States Magistrate Judge

         This case arises from the actions of employees of Defendant County of San Diego (“County”), the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, and the County's Polinsky Children's Center (“Polinsky”) during and following the removal of Minor Plaintiffs Cassandra Garcia, C.N.G., and C.J.G. from their home and parents. In the parties' joint motion for determination of Discovery Dispute No. 1, Plaintiffs seek to compel County to produce Persons Most Knowledgeable (“PMKs”) for deposition on two topics listed in Plaintiff's April 21, 2017 PMK deposition notice. ECF No. 66-1 at 3. By way of the joint motion for determination of Discovery Dispute No. 2, Plaintiffs seek to compel County to produce a PMK for deposition pursuant to a PMK deposition notice served after the close of fact discovery. ECF No. 67-1 at 5-6. For the reasons explained below, the joint motion for determination of Discovery Dispute No.1 [ECF No. 66] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART and the joint motion for determination of Discovery Dispute No. 2 [ECF No. 67] is DENIED.

         Relevant Background

         This case arose out of a child welfare investigation of the Garcia family performed by County social workers during January of 2013. As a result of the investigation, Plaintiffs C.N.G., and C.J.G. were removed from their home and admitted to Polinsky. ECF No. 1 ¶ 24. The next day, Plaintiff Cassandra Garcia, who had been receiving inpatient psychiatric treatment at a local hospital, was discharged from the psychiatric facility by County social workers and transported to Polinsky. Id. ¶ 26. All three children are alleged to have been subjected to physical examination and testing at Polinsky without the knowledge or consent of their parents. Id. ¶¶ 25, 27, 28. The children remained at Polinsky for seventeen days and were not fully reunited with their mother until about July of 2013. Id. ¶ 32.

         Plaintiffs allege in the instant lawsuit that the Garcia children should not have been removed from their parents, that the individual defendant social workers misrepresented material facts to the Juvenile Court so they could continue to detain the children, and that Polinsky failed to provide adequate physical and mental care or sufficient security to the Garcia children. ECF No. 66-1 at 2. Plaintiffs also assert that the physical examinations of the children at Polinsky violated the law. Id. at 2-3. The complaint alleges various constitutional claims against the individual defendants as well as a claim against the County under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), challenging the lawfulness of the County's policies, procedures, practices, and customs.

         Legal Standard

         Rule 30(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, by way of a notice or subpoena:

a party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination. The named organization must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify. A subpoena must advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make this designation. The persons designated must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization. This paragraph (6) does not preclude a deposition by any other procedure allowed by these rules.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6). As with all forms of discovery, Rule 30(b)(6) notices and subpoenas are subject to the relevancy limitations of Rule 26. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), a party:

may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Information need not be admissible to be discoverable. Id. District courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. See Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Haghayeghi v. Guess?, Inc., 168 F.Supp.3d 1277, 1280 (S.D. Cal. 2016) (noting that relevancy is broadly construed). “District courts also have broad discretion to limit discovery to prevent its abuse.” Eclipse Grp. LLP v. Target Corp., No. 15cv1411-JLS (BLM), 2017 WL 2231316, at *2 (S.D. Cal. May 19, 2017) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2), which instructs courts to limit discovery where the party seeking the discovery “has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action” or where the proposed discovery is “unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, ” “obtain[able] from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive, ” or where it “is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1)”).

         “The 2015 amendments to Rule 26(b)(1) emphasize the need to impose ‘reasonable limits on discovery through increased reliance on the common-sense concept of proportionality.'” Roberts v. Clark County Sch. Dist., 312 F.R.D. 594, 603 (D. Nev. 2016). The fundamental principle of amended Rule 26(b)(1) is “that lawyers must size and shape their discovery requests to the requisites of a case.” Id. Discovery and Rule 26 is intended to provide parties with “efficient access to what is needed to prove a claim or defense, but eliminate unnecessary or wasteful discovery.” Id. This requires active involvement of federal judges to make decisions regarding the scope of discovery. Id.


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