United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER: (1) REGARDING JOINT MOTION FOR DETERMINATION
OF DISCOVERY DISPUTE NO. 4 (2) GRANTING EX PARTE MOTION TO
SEAL [ECF NOS. 116, 124]
Nita L. Stormes United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is a Joint Motion for Determination of Discovery
Dispute No. 4 wherein Plaintiff Jason Toranto (“Dr.
Toranto”) asks the Court to compel Defendant Daniel
Jaffurs (“Dr. Jaffurs”) to produce certain emails
sent or received at his GoDaddy email account. ECF No. 116.
Dr. Jaffurs objects to this request, arguing that it is
untimely, not relevant and/or proportional, and on the basis
of privacy. Id. at 1. On April 25, 2018, the Court
ordered Dr. Jaffurs to submit the emails in question for in
camera review (ECF No. 118), and the Court received the
documents on April 30, 2018. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART
Plaintiff's motion to compel.
First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), Plaintiff
alleges nine causes of action against ten defendants,
including Dr. Jaffurs. ECF No. 21. The crux of the complaint
is that Dr. Jaffurs allegedly made false and defamatory
statements about Dr. Toranto that prevented him from being
hired at the Children's Hospital of Orange County
(“CHOC”) and that Dr. Jaffurs conspired with
Defendant Amanda Gosman (“Dr. Gosman”) to prevent
Toranto from obtaining privileges at Rady Children's
Hospital (“Rady's”) in San Diego.
Jaffurs maintains a personal website (http://www.jaffurs.com)
and has an email associated with that domain. ECF No. 116 at
1. This website and email account are hosted by GoDaddy, an
internet domain registrar and web hosting company.
April 10, 2017, Plaintiff served a third-party subpoena on
GoDaddy, seeking metadata information from emails between Dr.
Jaffurs and a list of eight physicians/administrators at the
University of California, Irvine (“UCI”), CHOC,
and Rady's. Id. at 2. The subpoena did not ask
for the full emails, but instead requested a
“list” of emails, wherein “list” is
defined as “an organized spreadsheet or document
showing the date, time, subject line, sender, and
recipient(s) of the requested emails.” Id.,
Ex. A at 5. The subpoena specifically stated that
“[t]he requesting party is not seeking the contents of
any of the emails.” Id.
meet and confers, on August 15, 2017, Dr. Jaffurs produced
856 pages of email headers (showing to, from, date, time and
subject but no message content) received from GoDaddy.
Id. at 2. On December 4, 2017, Plaintiff requested
via email to have 161 emails produced in their entirety.
Id. On January 9, 2018, Dr. Jaffurs produced only 4
of the requested emails. After engaging in further meet and
confers, counsel for Dr. Jaffurs permitted counsel for
Plaintiff to inspect in person one of the emails, with the
subject “DSM-5.” Id. After inspecting
this email, counsel for Plaintiff asked to inspect the other
156 emails but counsel for Dr. Jaffurs refused to permit
further inspection. Id.
January 29, 2018, Plaintiff served Dr. Jaffurs with Request
for Production No. 26, which formally requested the 157
emails. Id., Ex. B. On March 5, 2018, Dr. Jaffurs
objected to this request and has not produced any of the
emails. Id., Ex. C.
initial matter, Dr. Jaffurs argues that this motion is
untimely under the Chambers' Rules, which states that a
joint discovery motion must be filed “within forty-five
(45) days of the date of event giving rise to the
dispute.” The parties dispute what constitutes the
“event giving rise to the dispute.” Plaintiff
argues that this “event, ” as defined in the
Chambers' Rules, is when Dr, Jaffurs responded to Request
for Production No. 26, which was the first formal written
request for the contents of the emails. ECF No. 116 at 4. Dr.
Jaffurs argues that the “event” should be
interpreted to be when the “initial response” was
received, which is either when Plaintiff received the
original August 2017 production containing the 865 pages of
email headers or when Dr. Jaffurs produced only 4 out of the
161 full emails that Plaintiff requested via email.
Id. at 5. Under Dr. Jaffurs's interpretation,
this motion would fall outside the 45-day rule.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure outline the rules for
conducting discovery. If a party does not abide by the rules,
the opposing party is under no obligation to produce
documents. In this case, Plaintiff's original April 10
subpoena on GoDaddy explicitly asked for information other
than email content. When Plaintiff subsequently requested via
email to have a subset of the emails be produced in their
entirety, this was technically not a valid discovery request
because the original subpoena did not cover email content.
See e.g., Hazeltine v. Hicks, No.
114-CV-00056 DAD DLB PC, 2016 WL 8730849, at *2 (E.D. Cal.
Aug. 26, 2016) (“While Plaintiff may have made various
requests verbally at his deposition or by letter, under the
rules of discovery, Defendants need not respond to oral
requests or improper discovery requests.”). It was not
until Plaintiff formalized his request in the January 29
Request for Production that there was a formal request for
email content. Id. (finding that only
plaintiff's requests for documents was a valid discovery
request). By this same token, until that valid request was
made, had Plaintiff come to the Court for relief, the Court
would not have been able to grant it. Calloway v.
California Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., No. C
07-2335 RMW (PR), 2009 WL 412657, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 12,
2009) (“The court may compel a party or nonparty to
comply with a discovery request, but such an order
presupposes the existence of a valid discovery
request.”). Thus, the Court finds that the
“event” triggering the 45 day deadline was the
January 29 Request for Production for the contents of the
emails and this joint motion falls within the 45 day limit.
Jaffurs also argues that Request No. 26 was duplicative of
prior discovery requests 1-4, 18-19, and 21. Dr. Jaffurs is
correct that parties are not permitted to restart the clock
for bringing a discovery dispute by simply propounding
duplicative discovery requests. See, e.g., Cruz
v. United States, No. 14CV2956-LAB (DHB), 2016 WL
727066, at *2-3 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 24, 2016) (finding subsequent
RFP to be “substantially similar” to earlier RFP
and rejecting as untimely joint discovery motion based on
response deadline for subsequent RFP). However, Dr. Jaffurs
has not shown this to be the case here. He has not shown what
discovery requests 1-4, 18-19, and 21 cover and why they
encompass every email on the list of 157 emails.
the Court finds that this joint motion is timely under the
Chambers rules ...