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Archer v. Gipson

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 9, 2020

DARRELL ARCHER and KEITHA DARQUEA, Plaintiffs,
v.
JILL GIPSON, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR POST-JUDGMENT DISCOVERY RELATED TO DEFENDANTS' FINANCES (DOC. 162)

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Darrell Archer and Keitha Darquea seek to compel Jill Gipson, J.E. Burke Construction, and Joseph Burke to respond to post-judgment discovery requests to obtain financial information that Plaintiffs contend is “necessary … to assist them in the collection of their judgment.” (Doc. 162) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

         I. Relevant Background

         Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se, initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by filing on February 23, 2012. (Doc. 1) Plaintiffs proceeded pro se until July 2, 2015, at which time the Court approved substitutions of attorney for Timothy Kassouni and Angela Thompson. (Docs. 92-95)

         A jury trial was held in the matter, beginning August 4, 2015. The jury found in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims that the defendants violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully seizing their personal property without a warrant, and that these Defendants deprived Plaintiffs of their due process rights by failing to provide adequate notice and opportunity to be heard prior to seizing their personal property. The jury awarded compensatory damages to Plaintiffs of $937.36 “plus interest due as of [August 6, 2015]” against Defendant Gipson and $1.00 against Joseph Burke and/or J.E. Burke Construction, Inc. (Doc. 121) In addition, the jury awarded punitive damages of $800.00 against Defendant Gipson and $200.00 against J.E. Burke Construction, Inc. (Doc. 122) Final judgment was entered by the Court on August 10, 2015. (Doc. 125)

         Plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney fees, which was granted in part on December 28, 2015, in the amount of $50, 287.83. (Doc. 133) Plaintiffs filed a request for reconsideration related to the amount of fees awarded on January 25, 2016 (Doc. 134), as well as a Notice of Appeal of the Court's order on January 27, 2016. (Doc. 135) The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for failure to prosecute on September 13, 2016.

         On October 27, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the motion now pending before the Court, seeking to compel Defendants to respond to post-judgment discovery requests, asserting discovery was necessary to obtain “information to assist [Plaintiffs] in the collection of their judgment.” (Doc. 162 at 2) Therefore, Plaintiffs report they served discovery requests in September 2019 related to “the whereabouts of Defendants (sic) finances to aid in collection of the judgment, ” including “information on property owned by Defendants, … bank information and other financial information” pursuant to Rule 69 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Cal. Code of Civil Pro. § 708.030 . (Id.)

         Defendants filed their opposition on December 2, 2019, reporting a check was issued and delivered to Plaintiffs in November 2016, which covered both the judgment and attorneys' fees ordered by the Court. (Doc. 164) In response, Plaintiffs acknowledge the check was received, but maintain they received “no satisfaction of judgment and an uncashable check.” (Doc. 165 at 2)

         II. Legal Standards

         A judgment creditor may obtain discovery from any person, including a judgment debtor, as provided in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or “by the procedure of the state where the court is located.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 69(b).

         Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a party to propound interrogatories, while and Rule 34 authorizes a party to request to inspect documents. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 33, 34. In addition, the California Code of Civil Procedure provides that a judgment creditor may propound written interrogatories and inspection demands to a judgment debtor requesting information to aid in enforcement of the money judgment. See, e.g., Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 708.020(a) (“The judgment creditor may propound written interrogatories to the judgment debtor . . . requesting information to aid in enforcement of the money judgment”); Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 708.030(a) (“The judgment creditor may demand that any judgment debtor produce and permit the party making the demand, or someone acting on that party's behalf, to inspect and to copy a document that is in the possession, custody, or control of the party on whom the demand is made . . . if the demand requests information to aid in enforcement of the money judgment.”).

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, upon notice, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery after a good faith attempt to confer with a party failing to make disclosure or discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Likewise, the California Code of Civil Procedure provides that when a responding party fails to answer an interrogatory or request for inspection authorized by those statutes, post-judgment discovery may be enforced in the same manner as discovery in a civil action. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 708.020, 708.030.

         III. Discussion and Analysis

         Seeking post-judgment discovery, Plaintiffs note that they obtained an execution of judgment on November 9, 2016. (Doc. 162 at 3) According to Plaintiffs, “On September 5, 2019 all Defendants were served with a Request for Post Judgment Discovery Set 1.” (Id.) Plaintiffs report they did not receive responses to their requests, and the motion to compel was “a necessary action and good causes exists to aid Plaintiffs in their attempt to collect their judgment.” (Id.) ...


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