United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO COMPEL AND DENYING
MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
L. QUACKENBUSH SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery (ECF
No. 21) and Defendant City of Spokane's Motion for
Protective Order (ECF No. 26). Both sides to the litigation
requested expedited hearing because the discovery issues
related to the resolution of a pending Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings. The court granted the request for expedited
consideration. The court has considered the briefing and the
Motions were submitted without oral argument on January 31,
2017. The court has denied the Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings via separate Order.
Introduction and Background
action was filed in state court on August 19, 2016, and
removed to this court on September 16, 2016. The Complaint
alleges Danny Jones was shot and killed by City of Spokane
police officers on August 22, 2013. The Complaint is brought
by his wife, surviving children, and his parents. Plaintiffs
allege Danny Jones was in his vehicle, stopped in a parking
lot, and surrounded by several police vehicles when officers
"opened fire." (Complaint ¶ 27). Plaintiffs
allege Danny Jones was unarmed and did not pose a threat to
officers. Plaintiffs assert several claims, including: 1)
excessive force in violation of Constitutional rights under
42 U.S.C. 1983; 2) Monell liability against the City
and Chief Straub under 42 U.S.C. 1983; 3) denial of Due
Process; 4) wrongful death; and 5) negligence.
September 21, 2016, this court issued an Order, which stated
in part: "The parties shall confer, as required by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f), within twenty-one (21) days of the date
of this Order, and discovery shall commence promptly
thereafter." (ECF No. 3). The court held a Scheduling
Conference on November 10, 2016, and on that date issued an
Order which stated in part: "Counsel are reminded the
court views Rule 26 liberally and the parties have an
obligation to disclose the good and the bad and observe an
'open file' policy with the exception of privileged
materials. Violations of Rule 26 and the spirit of open
discovery will result in the imposition of appropriate
sanctions." (ECF No. 12).
City answered the Complaint on September 28, 2016, and on
December 8, 2016, filed a Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings (ECF No. 15). On November 16, 2016, just after the
Scheduling Conference and before Defendant filed the Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings, Plaintiffs served written
discovery. (ECF No. 21, p. 2). The City's response, or
lack thereof, to the written discovery is the basis for the
Motion to Compel seeks to have the court overrule
Defendant's objections to several Interrogatories and
Requests for Production and order Defendant City to provide
full and complete responses. The Motion attaches the
discovery at issue (See ECF No. 21-1).
Plaintiffs' counsel has filed a Statement pursuant to
Local Rule 37.1, which states the parties have conferred and
have been unable to resolve the City's objections to
Interrogatories 3 thru 10, and Requests for Production 2, 3,
4, 6, 8, and 9. (ECF No. 22).
City's Motion for Protective Order (ECF No. 26) does not
seek to protect any specific information from discovery, but
rather asks to stay discovery until after resolution of the
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF No. 26, p. 2). The
City states Plaintiffs allegations are "baseless"
and therefore Plaintiffs are "not entitled to
discovery." (Id.). The City contends it would
take "dozens" of hours to respond to the written
discovery. The City's Motion cites to an attached
Declaration, but the Declaration offers no support for the
contention as to the amount of time required to respond.
City was served with discovery on November 16, 2016. By that
date, this court had issued two Orders concerning discovery
and directed discovery "shall" commence. The City
had not moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, or for
more definite statement, but had answered the Complaint. The
discovery was served on November 16, 2016, and both
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33 and 34 provide for a 30-day period of time to
respond unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court.
Thus responses were due on or about December 16, 2016. On
December 16, 2016, the City filed its Responses, and
Objections in which the City objected to every interrogatory
and request for production. (See ECF No. 27). While
the discovery was pending, the City filed a Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings on December 8, 2016. As the
City's own Motion acknowledges, the filing of such motion
does not stay discovery. The parties state they met and
conferred on January 12, 2017. At that time, discovery
responses were nearly one month overdue, and the City had not
filed a motion to stay discovery.
The Specific Objections
No. 1 - Defendant City interposed a frivolous objection
and refused to answer the basic question of who was answering
the interrogatories, and stated "to be
supplemented." (See ECF No. 27, Ex. A). Failing
to identify a person resulted in the answers being unverified
and failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b). The parties
have apparently now resolved this objection.
No. 3 - This question was answered, with the City
stating it has not identified any experts at this time.
No. 4 - This question asks for information "in the
last 10 years" involving other lawsuits in which the
City was a party and wherein the claims concerned an officer
involved shooting. The court finds this overbroad as to
temporal scope. The incident here occurred in August 2013.
The City ...