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Olson v. Uehara

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 10, 2014

W. GARY OLSON, Plaintiff,
EDWINA S. UEHARA, et al., Defendants.


RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, District Judge.


This matter comes before the Court on a number of pending motions, including: Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time (Dkt. #79); Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Deadline (Dkt. #86); Defendants' Motion to Compel (Dkt. #92); Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. #98); Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Dkt. #103); Defendants' Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. #109); Plaintiff's Motion for Relief (Dkt. #113); and Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. #114). The Court addresses each of these motions below, and also warns the parties that additional voluminous motion filings may result in monetary sanctions.


The relevant background to this matter is set forth in the Court's prior Order granting Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Denying Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, and is incorporated by reference herein. See Dkt. #133.


A. Defendants' Motion to Compel Production of Email (Dkt. #92) and Plaintiff's Related Motions for Relief and for a Protective Order (Dkts. #113 and #114)

Defendants have moved this Court for an Order compelling Plaintiff to produce 19 emails between Plaintiff and his former colleague and friend, Dr. Miceal Vaughan. Plaintiff asserts the email is protected by the attorney work product privilege. The Court DEFERS Defendants' motion for the reasons set forth herein.

1. Applicable Standard

"Litigants may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party.'" Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)). "Relevant information for purposes of discovery is information reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.'" Id. "District courts have broad discretion in determining relevancy for discovery purposes." Id. (citing Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002)). If requested discovery is not answered, the requesting party may move for an order compelling such discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). "The party who resists discovery has the burden to show that discovery should not be allowed, and has the burden of clarifying, explaining, and supporting its objections." Cable & Computer Tech., Inc. v. Lockheed Sanders, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 646, 650 (C.D. Cal. 1997).

2. Attorney Work Product Privilege

The attorney work-product privilege "shields both opinion and factual work product from discovery." Pac. Fisheries, Inc. v. United States, 539 F.3d 1143, 1148 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(3) ("Ordinarily, a party may not discover documents and tangible things that are prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or its representative[.]"). In this case, Plaintiff insists that the email correspondence at issue contains the mental theories and impressions of his attorney, and was created for the purpose of litigation. The Court is unable to adequately review the email correspondence in the form the documents were submitted. Accordingly, the Court directs Plaintiff to submit the emails at issue for an in camera review, after which the Court will rule on Defendants' motion.

3. Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. #114)

Plaintiff moves for a protective Order precluding Defendants from issuing a subpoena to Mr. Vaughan in an attempt to secure his privileged email correspondence with Plaintiff. Dkts. #114. Plaintiff also asked the Court to consider the motion in an expedited manner, which is now MOOT. Dkt. #113. To the extent the Plaintiff seeks to preclude the Defendants from securing what he believes are privileged documents from Mr. Vaughan himself or other third parties, the Court denies the motion as premature.[1] Not only has Plaintiff failed to provide any subpoena or document that actually seeks the emails from Mr. Vaughan directly or from any other third party, the parties have since stipulated to conduct the proposed deposition of Mr. Vaughan after the Court issues rulings on the pending motions. The Court expects Defendants to abide by any ruling the Court makes with respect to the Vaughan emails once the Court has reviewed the documents at issue and ruled accordingly.

B. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. #98)

Plaintiff seeks leave to file an Amended Complaint to add the Washington State Auditor's Office ("SAO"), as well as "the head of the SAO in his official capacity, " as Defendants to the instant action on a defamation claim. Dkt. #98. The deadline for any joinder of parties in this matter was September 12, 2013. Dkt. #20. Plaintiff alleges that he has only just discovered evidence against the SAO upon which he now desires to base a claim for defamation. He asserts that the SAO is both a necessary and permissive party to this action and there is good cause to add the party and the claim at this juncture. Dkt. #98. The Court is not persuaded. While Plaintiff fills his motion with conclusory statements that the SAO has defamed him and is now necessary to be joined to this action, Plaintiff fails to include any specific documents or statements upon which the Court could analyze such a claim. Moreover, there are no facts alleged in the proposed Third Amended Complaint upon which to evaluate the potential for a state law claim of defamation against the SAO - i.e., Plaintiff fails to identify the actual alleged defamatory statements, when and to whom they were allegedly published, and how he was ...

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