United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER (1) DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR REVIEW
OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S APRIL 30, 2019 ORDER IN
18-CV-873-BAS-MDD AND (2) CLOSING CASE NO.
Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge.
January 14, 2019, Magistrate Judge Dembin issued an order
denying Plaintiffs' motion to compel. (ECF No. 30.)
Plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of this Order. (ECF No.
57.) Magistrate Judge Dembin denied the motion for
reconsideration. (ECF No. 68.) Plaintiffs now appeal this
denial of reconsideration. (ECF No. 71.) Defendant opposes
(ECF No. 76), and Plaintiffs reply to the opposition, (ECF
Court finds resolution of this matter is suitable without the
need for oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). For
the reasons discussed below, the Court
DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion for Review of
the Magistrate Judge's April 30, 2019 Order.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
premise of this case is simple. During an online auction with
Concierge Auctions, LLC. (“Concierge”),
Plaintiffs had received notice that they had placed the
winning bid for property in Fiji. Plaintiffs deposited $285,
000 into an escrow account for the property. When the Fiji
property owners refused to sell, Plaintiffs demanded return
of their money.
procedural history of this case is less simple. Plaintiffs
filed a lawsuit against Concierge, which has been stayed over
Plaintiffs' objection, pending arbitration.
(17-cv-2263-BAS-MDD.) Three weeks after the Concierge case
was stayed, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against Boston
National Title Agency, LLC (“Boston National”)
for an accounting, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty,
claiming Boston National failed to timely return their escrow
deposit. Soon after the lawsuit was filed, Boston National
returned the $285, 000 escrow amount to Plaintiffs.
August 14, 2018, Plaintiffs propounded requests for
production of documents from Boston National, including
requests for all documents related to the escrow account into
which Plaintiffs deposited their $285, 000. This escrow
account, held by Wells Fargo Bank, is a repository of funds
from customers of Concierge and Boston National. It was not
set up exclusively for the Fiji property auction or for
Plaintiffs' transactions. It apparently identified dozens
of customers and transactions unrelated to the Fiji auction
or to Plaintiffs' deposit of the $285, 0000. Nonetheless,
Boston National produced redacted statements from this escrow
account, offering to assign unique identifiers to the other
customers of Concierge and Boston National, but without
identifying the actual customers. Plaintiffs objected.
January 14, 2019, Magistrate Judge Dembin denied
Plaintiffs' motion to compel Boston National to produce
unredacted escrow statements. (ECF No. 30.) On April 8, 2019,
Plaintiffs moved to reconsider this order (ECF No. 57), and
on April 30, 2019, Judge Dembin denied the motion for
reconsideration. (ECF No. 68.) Plaintiffs appeal that order
meantime, while the discovery dispute in this case was
pending, Plaintiffs propounded subpoenas to both Concierge
and Wells Fargo Bank, non-parties in this case, in the
Central District of California. Both cases were transferred
to this district. (18-cv-2617-BAS-MDD; 18-cv-2433-BAS-MDD.)
On February 6, 2019, Magistrate Judge Dembin granted Wells
Fargo Bank's motion to quash the request for production
of the exact same unredacted escrow statements.
(18-cv-2617-BAS-MDD, ECF No. 22.) On May 1, 2019, Plaintiffs
moved to reconsider that order. (18-cv-2617-BAS-MDD, ECF No.
34), and on May 22, 2019, Magistrate Judge Dembin denied the
motion for reconsideration. (18-cv-2617-BAS-MDD, ECF No. 36.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court may reconsider any non-dispositive pretrial
ruling of the magistrate judge “where it has been shown
that the magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or
contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. §636(b); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P., 72; Bhan v. NME Hospitals,
Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1414 (9th Cir. 1991) (holding a
magistrate judge's decision on a non-dispositive issue is
reviewed by the district court for clear error); Brighton
Collectibles, Inc. v. Marc Chantal USA, Inc., No.
06-cv-1584 H(POR), 2008 WL 753956 at *1 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 18,
2008) (“The ‘clearly erroneous' standard
applies to the magistrate judge's factual determinations
and discretionary decisions [citation omitted] including
rulings on discovery disputes where the magistrate judge is
afforded broad discretion. [citation omitted].”)
Discovery issues are generally non-dispositive.
Maisonville v. F2 Am., Inc., 902 F.2d 746, 748 (9th
courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for
discovery purposes. Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732,
751 (9th Cir. 2002). If the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs the likely benefit, a district court may
set limits on the discovery. Cascade Yarns, Inc. v.
Knitting Fever, Inc., 755 F.3d 55, 59 (1st Cir. 2014).
“[A] district court is vested with ‘broad
discretion to make discovery and evidentiary rulings
conducive to the conduct of a fair and orderly
trial.'” Amarel v. Connell, 102 F.3d 1494,
1515 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Campbell Indus. v. M/V
Gemini, 619 F.2d 24, 27 (9th Cir. 1980)).
case, Defendant has provided Plaintiffs with redacted escrow
statements showing the amount of money in the account on a
daily basis. Defendant has also offered to provide
statements, redacting out customer information but providing
unique identifying information for each customer, so that
Plaintiffs can trace the funds in and out of the escrow
account. Plaintiffs argue they need the names of the
depositors, depositing account ...