No. C06-5025 BZ.
October 29, 2007
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL
Before me is plaintiff's motion to compel regarding defendant's responses to her revised interrogatories, requests for admission and requests for production of documents. For the reasons discussed, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
Generally, plaintiff takes issue with defendant's excessive use of boilerplate objections. As I explained during the September 27, 2007 discovery telephone conference regarding plaintiff's motion to compel, I disregard boilerplate objections.
"Boilerplate, generalized objections are inadequate and tantamount to not making any objection at all." Walker v. Lakewood Condo. Owners Ass'n, 186 F.R.D. 584, 587 (C.D. Cal. 1999).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33(b)(1) requires that a party objecting to an interrogatory "shall state the reasons for objection and shall answer to the extent the interrogatory is not objectionable." All grounds for objection must be "stated with specificity" or the objection is waived unless the court excuses the party's failure to object "for good cause shown." Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 33(b)(4). Defendant frequently failed to state with specificity his grounds for objection or show good cause for his failure to do so. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that defendant's boilerplate objections are stricken.
Similarly, a party responding to a request for admission must respond with an: admission; denial; or "set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter." Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 36(a). If the responding party is unable to admit or deny the request because of lack of sufficient information, the responding party must state that he or she has made a "reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by the party is insufficient to enable the party to admit or deny." Id.
In response to many of plaintiff's requests for production of documents, defendant produced the entire litigation file. Plaintiff has not shown that the litigation file was not produced as it was kept in the normal course of business. See Schwarzer, et al., Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial, § 11:1943-44 (Rutter 2007). Nor has plaintiff shown that the documents produced were so voluminous or so disorganized that she cannot tell what they are. Plaintiff's request for an order compelling defendant to identify or organize the documents to respond to specific requests is not necessary.
Defendant's discovery responses are also replete with attorney-client, work product and privacy objections. Defendant does not provide a privilege log or sufficiently describe why the discovery propounded is privileged. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require:
a party withhold[ing] information otherwise discoverable under these rules by claiming that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial-preparation material, the party shall make the claim expressly and shall describe the nature of the documents, communications, or things not produced or disclosed in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(5). Rule 26(b)(5) is commonly satisfied by filing a privilege log. Blanket refusals or boilerplate objections are insufficient to assert privilege, so I have disregarded such assertions. See Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rwy. Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 408 F.3d 1142, 1149 (9th Cir. 2005).
During the September 27, 2007 discovery telephone conference, I granted plaintiff leave to file a memorandum in support of her motion to compel setting forth the specific discovery responses at issue. See Third Discovery Order, Sept. 28, 2007, Docket No. 84. I will now address the adequacy of the responses specifically addressed by plaintiff.
Plaintiff specifically discusses defendant's responses to her revised interrogatories numbers 1 — 8 and 9 — 17; revised requests for admissions numbers 1, 2, 4-9, 11 — 14, 16 — 29, and 33; and requests for production of documents numbers 1, 8 — 11, 14, 16, 18, 23, and 25-27.
Plaintiff did not file or provide me with court copies of pages 3 or 5 of defendant's responses to her revised requests for admissions. As such, I am unable to issue an order regarding requests 4 — 8 or 11-14. (On October 5, 2007, plaintiff filed three different versions of her motion to compel. The missing pages were not attached as exhibits to those filings.)
It is HEREBY ORDERED THAT plaintiff's motion to compel is resolved as follows. I GRANT plaintiff's motion with respect to interrogatory numbers 1, 4 — 5 (limiting response to the years 2000 — 2006), 8 (response is unintelligible and inadequate) and 13; request for admission numbers 25, 27, and 29 (response is evasive); and request for production of documents numbers 1, 8, 11, 18 (inconsistent response as to whether documents exist), and 24 — 27 (defendant to produce documents for the years 2000 — 2006). I DENY plaintiff's motion to compel further responses to interrogatory numbers 2, 3, 6 (relevancy and privacy objections sustained), 7 , 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14 (defendant is admonished that he has a duty to supplement discovery and disclosures pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e)); request for admission numbers 1, 2, 20 — 24, 26, 28 and 33; and request for production of documents numbers 9, 10, 14, 16, and 23.
As I noted during the September 27, 2007 telephone conference, documents filed with a court are not protected by a right of privacy or attorney client privilege.
An interrogatory inquiring as to basis of responses to requests for admissions is treated as an interrogatory with subparts [with each request for admission inquired to counts as a single interrogatory]. See Safeco of America v. Rawstron, 181 F.R.D. 441, 445 (C.D. Cal. 1998).
Interrogatory numbers 15 — 17 and request for admissions numbers 16 — 19 will be addressed at the December 5, 2007 hearing on the motion to compel.
Plaintiff also seeks an order compelling defendant to comply with the initial disclosure requirement to provide a complete copy of liability insurance policies as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(D), (as well as defendant's alleged failure to respond to her second set of requests for admissions). These matters are not appropriately before me at this time. Plaintiff has failed to comply my Order Scheduling Jury Trial and Pretrial Matters (Docket No. 46) which sets forth the process by which parties bring discovery disputes before the Court. I again admonish plaintiff that failure to comply with my orders and the Civil Local Rules may result in the imposition of sanctions.
Plaintiff also requests that her deposition and all other defensive discovery be deferred until after defendant provides further amended discovery responses that comport with my order. On September 20, 2007, counsel for defendant filed a letter requesting a telephone discovery conference regarding plaintiff's refusal to present for deposition. On September 27, 2007, I conducted a telephone conference with the parties to address plaintiff's refusal to present for deposition and the instant motion to compel. Plaintiff agreed to present for deposition and I ordered that her deposition be completed by October 8, 2007. As I explained during the September 27, 2007 telephone discovery conference, plaintiff's deposition is not tied to the propriety of defendant's discovery responses. Accordingly, plaintiff's request that her deposition and all other defensive discovery be deferred until defendant provides complete discovery responses is DENIED.
Defense counsel attached a copy a motion to compel plaintiff's deposition to the September 20, 2007 letter as an exhibit.
Plaintiff's deposition did not go forward as ordered. In her October 24, 2007 letter to the court, plaintiff states that her deposition will go forward on November 14, 2007.
Plaintiff also requests reimbursement for the expenses of filing the motion to compel, purchasing devices to record the meet and confer telephone conferences and Federal Express costs. Additionally, plaintiff asks me to impose sanctions against defendant. Although, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(4) does provide for an award of expenses against a losing party who was not substantially justified in opposing a motion to compel, the Civil Local Rules require that motions for sanctions must be filed separately. See Civil L.R. 37-3 and 7-8(a). As such, plaintiff's request for reimbursement of expenses and for sanctions against defendant is DENIED. However, defendant is cautioned that if he continues to respond to discovery requests as has in the past, sanctions are likely to be imposed.
On October 24, 2007, plaintiff filed motion requesting leave to file a reply to defendant's opposition. Further briefing is unnecessary and her request is DENIED. Generally, I will notify the parties if further briefing is required.
Plaintiff's request that defendant provide amended responses within 3 calendar days of this order is unreasonable.