United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER ADDRESSING DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEFS RE: ECF NOS.
BEELER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
court's standing order provides that (absent a
superseding order to the contrary) the parties must meet and
confer regarding discovery disputes (in person if counsel are
local or by telephone if they are not) and then must raise
discovery disputes in a joint letter brief that includes (1)
a statement of the unresolved issue, (2) a summary of each
party's position (with citations to supporting facts and
legal authority), and (3) each party's final proposed
compromise. Plaintiff Ryan Hyams filed four individual
discovery letter briefs. Mr. Hyams says that he sent his
positions to the defendants (collectively, “CVS”)
on October 30, 2019, and asked for their positions by
November 6, 2019. Mr. Hyams says that CVS did not respond
until November 6, and on November 6 did not provide its
positions but instead said that it intended to request from
the court a schedule for non-joint briefing. CVS does not deny
that it did not respond to Mr. Hyams until November 6 and
that, when it did respond, it did not provide a substantive
response and instead told Mr. Hyams only that it intended to
request a non-joint briefing schedule.
failure to respond substantively to Mr. Hyams's October
30 positions and its unilateral decision to forgo the
joint-letter-brief process in lieu of proposing a non-joint
briefing schedule fails to comply with the court's
standing order. “‘[T]he meet-and-confer and
joint-letter-brief processes is meant to encourage parties to
(1) talk with each other, see each other's positions, try
to find areas of compromise, and work out disputes amongst
themselves, and (2) narrow, sharpen, and focus the issues
they cannot resolve before they present those issues to the
court.'” Sayta v. Martin, No.
16-cv-03775-LB, 2019 WL 1102989, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 8,
2019) (quoting Updateme Inc. v. Axel Springer SE,
No. 17-cv-05054-SI (LB), 2018 WL 5734670, at *4 (N.D. Cal.
Oct. 31, 2018)). “‘[T]he final joint letter brief
should include only the core, central unresolved issues and
all of the parties' arguments on those issues (including
all the responses they have to the other side's
arguments).'” Id. (quoting Synopsys,
Inc. v. Ubiquiti Networks, Inc., No. 17-cv-00561-WHO
(LB), 2018 WL 2294281, at *1 (N.D. Cal. May 21, 2018)).
CVS's proposal to forgo the joint-letter-brief process
undermines this purpose entirely. While the court called for
full briefing with respect to the patient-safety work-product
(“PSWP”) issue - due to the particulars of that
issue, and only after several rounds of joint letter briefs -
the court did not authorize CVS to depart from the
joint-letter-brief process for other discovery disputes or to
wait a week after receiving the other side's portions of
joint letter briefs before responding only non-substantively.
court therefore orders the following. CVS must provide to Mr.
Hyams its substantive portions for Mr. Hyams's four
discovery letter briefs by November 8, 2019. The parties must
then meet and confer (in person or by telephone) within two
business days for at least one hour to discuss their disputes
and to try to work them out and find compromises. Cf.
Sayta, 2019 WL 1102989, at *1 (“‘The
overarching principle for all discovery disputes is that the
parties have an obligation to negotiate in good faith and
cooperate in discovery.'”) (quoting
Updateme, 2018 WL 5734670, at *4 n.21). If they are
unable to resolve their disputes, they may file joint letter
briefs that take into account their meet-and-confer
discussions and that comply with the requirements set out in
the court's standing order, including the requirement
that the letter briefs include each party's final
proposed compromise on each issue.
parties also raise a dispute about whether they should
address discovery disputes to the undersigned or to Judge
Hamilton. Judge Hamilton's October 18, 2019 order
To the extent defendants believe plaintiffs' fourth
set of requests for production seeks materials that are
not relevant nor calculated to lead to the discovery of
admissible evidence given the scope of the operative
complaint following this court's ruling on
defendants' motion to dismiss, defendants may object to
those requests on those bases within 14 days from
the date of this order. If plaintiff moves to compel
production in response to such objections, that
motion shall be filed before this court given the relevance
of this court's prior orders.
Hamilton's October 18 order does not withdraw from her
general referral orderdiscovery disputes not related to Mr.
Hyams's fourth set of requests for production. Until and
unless Judge Hamilton withdraws such matters from referral,
the undersigned must decide them, and the parties should
therefore address such disputes to the undersigned (as
opposed to Judge Hamilton) in the first instance.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Standing Order - ECF No. 34-1 at 2-3.
Citations refer to material in the Electronic Case File
(“ECF”); pinpoint citations are to the
ECF-generated page numbers at the top of documents.
 Pls. Letter Brs. - ECF Nos.
 Pls. Letter Brs. - ECF No. 105 at 3,
106 at 2, 107 at 3, 108 ...