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Cervantes v. Zimmerman

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 15, 2019

JAIRO CERVANTES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SAN DIEGO POLICE CHIEF SHELLEY ZIMMERMAN, et al., Defendants. BRYAN PEASE, Plaintiff,
v.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF WILLIAM GORE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF BRYAN PEASE'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S DISCOVERY ORDERS [ECF NO. 108, 109]

          HON. CYNTHIA BASHANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Magistrate Judge Stormes denied Plaintiff Bryan Pease's first motion for discovery from the County Defendants (ECF No. 103), and granted in part and denied in part Pease's second motion for discovery from the City Defendants, (ECF No. 104).[1] Pease objects to both rulings in noticed motions. (ECF Nos. 108, 109). The motions are suitable for determination on the papers submitted without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons herein, the Court overrules both Objections and affirms the corresponding denials of Pease's motions for discovery.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 6, 2017, ten plaintiffs filed a Complaint against the County and City of San Diego, along with various officers, claiming Defendants wrongfully arrested them during a protest in connection with a rally for then presidential candidate Donald Trump. (ECF No. 1.)[2] According to the operative Complaint, San Diego City Police Chief Zimmerman wrongfully declared the assembly unlawful after “minor scuffles, ” and, as a result, Plaintiffs were denied their right to peacefully assemble and were subject to false imprisonment and assault and battery. These original Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Bryan Pease, who also apparently attended this protest. The initial discovery order required that discovery be completed by June 1, 2018. (ECF No. 18 ¶ 5.)

         On May 29, 2018, Bryan Pease filed his own separate complaint alleging wrongful arrest based on the same material factual allegations set forth in the original case. (Pease v. San Diego County Sheriff William Gore, No. 18-cv-1062-BAS-NLS, ECF No. 1 (S.D. Cal. May 29, 2018) [hereinafter “Pease, No. 18-cv-1062”]). Pease claims he was arrested in a different location and was not an actual witness to the original Plaintiffs' arrest. (Pease, No. 18-cv-1062, ECF No. 24.) But Pease's claims are identical to those of the original Plaintiffs.

         Defendants moved to consolidate the two cases, expressing concern that separate cases would duplicate efforts, particularly in discovery. (ECF No. 54.) The Court terminated Defendants' motion and, instead, ordered Plaintiffs to show cause why the cases should not be consolidated. (ECF No. 55.) Plaintiffs opposed consolidation “at least for purposes of trial, ” primarily arguing that consolidation could result in Bryan Pease being conflicted from representing the original Plaintiffs at trial. (Pease, No. 18-cv-1062, ECF No. 24.) With respect to the concern about discovery duplication, Pease represented that he did not intend to duplicate “and can combine the discovery in the two cases.” (Id.) As Pease stated, “consolidation is not required to avoid duplicative discovery. Evidence and discovery produced in one lawsuit can be used in subsequent litigation as long as it is relevant.” (Id.)

         The Court consolidated the two cases, at least for discovery and pretrial purposes, reserving the issue of whether separate trials might prove necessary. (ECF No. 68.) On January 11, 2019, the Magistrate Judge held a new case management conference to establish a consolidated schedule and concluded “[f]act discovery in the lead case closed on November 30, 2018, after the parties requested and were granted, two separate extensions of time to complete fact discovery.” (ECF No. 74 ¶ 2.) The Magistrate Judge concluded that fact discovery in the original case remains closed, but that “[f]act discovery limited to Plaintiff Pease's claims shall be completed by April 19, 2019.” (Id. ¶ 3.)

         After the issuance of the consolidated scheduling order, Pease sought his own discovery. And after some three months, Pease filed his motions to compel certain discovery. (ECF Nos. 91, 100.) He has filed two objections to the Magistrate Judge's denial of these motions. (ECF Nos. 108, 109.) Pease raises three objections to the Magistrate Judge's ruling: (1) Pease should be allowed to completely reopen discovery, even if the general topics of his discovery concern the same topics relevant to the original Plaintiffs' claims; (2) Defendants should respond to his Requests for Admission concerning any widespread violence occurring at the time of his arrest, even if the reason for the arrest was an earlier declaration that the assembly was unlawful; and (3) Pease should be allowed to depose San Diego County Sheriff William Gore.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The 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) (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 America, Inc., 902 F.2d 746, 748 (9th Cir. 1996).

         District courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). The history of discovery and consequent amendments to Rule 26 is one of encouraging the courts to impose “‘reasonable limits on discovery through increased reliance on the common sense concept of proportionality.'” Roberts v. Clark Cty. Sch. Dist., 312 F.R.D. 594, 603 (D. Nev. 2016) (quoting Court Rules, 192 F.R.D. 340, 390). “In deciding whether to restrict discovery under Rule 26(b)(2)(C) the court should consider the totality of the circumstances, weighing the value of the material sought against the burden of providing it, and taking into account society's interest in furthering the truth-seeking function in the particular case before the court.” Id. at 602 (quotations omitted). Accordingly, 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 Industries v. M/V Gemini, 619 F.2d 24, 27 (9th Cir. 1980)). Courts “routinely reject attempts to end-run around discovery deadlines.” Cruz v. United States, No. 14-cv-2956-LAB (DHB), 2016 WL 727066, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 24, 2016); see also Bird v. PSC Holdings, LLC, No. 12-cv-1528 W (NLS), 2013 WL 1120659, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 18, 2013) (“[A]ny discovery demands which are substantially similar to previous demands will not re-start the clock for filing a discovery motion.”).

         ANALYSIS

         A. Attempt to ...


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