United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO CONTINUE,
DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL SETTLEMENT
AGREEMENT, AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendants T. Randall Grove
(“Grove”) and Landerholm, P.S.'s
(collectively “Defendants”) motion to compel a
prior settlement (Dkt. 19), motion to compel responses (Dkt.
21), and motion for continuance of trial date (Dkt. 23). The
Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in
opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and
hereby rules as follows:
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
December 21, 2015, Plaintiffs James and Connie Alderson
(“Plaintiffs”) filed a complaint against
Defendants asserting causes of action for negligence and
breach of fiduciary duty. Dkt. 1. Plaintiffs allege that they
hired Grove to prepare a number of estate planning documents,
including the Alderson Family Trust (“AFT”).
Id. ¶ 11. In 2004 and 2006, Plaintiffs entered
into two real estate deals in Arizona believing that
AFT's assets would not be at risk. Id.
¶¶ 14-18. After the 2008-09 recession, the bank
that loaned money for the real estate deals sued the
Aldersons, and the Arizona courts determined that AFT's
assets could be reached to settle Plaintiffs' personal
debts. Id. ¶¶ 19-31. This malpractice
2, 2016, the Court issued a scheduling order setting trial
for May 23, 2017. Dkt. 17.
February 16, 2017, Defendants moved to compel Plaintiffs'
settlement agreement, Dkt. 19, moved to compel discovery from
Plaintiffs' other attorneys, Dkt. 21, and moved for a
continuance, Dkt. 23. On February 21, 2017, Plaintiffs
responded. Dkts. 26, 27, 29. On March 3, 2017, Defendants
replied. Dkts. 37-39.
schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge's consent. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).
case, Defendants move for a three-month continuance of the
trial date. Dkt. 23. Upon review of counsel's
declaration, the Court finds that Defendants have established
good cause to modify the schedule. Accordingly, the Court
grants the motion.
may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that
is relevant to any party's claim or defense and
proportional to the needs of the case . . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). A party seeking discovery may move for
an order compelling production if a party fails to produce
documents as requested. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv).
case, Defendants move to compel Plaintiffs' settlement
agreement. Before filing this action, Plaintiffs initiated an
action in Arizona against attorney John Battaile
(“Battaile”) and his law firm. Battaile drafted
documents in connection with the Arizona real estate deals.
The suit ended when the parties entered into a settlement
agreement. Defendants have served discovery requests on
Plaintiffs for the settlement agreement, but Plaintiffs have
objected to the requests. Plaintiffs argue that the agreement
is not relevant because, under Federal Rule of Evidence 408,
the agreement is not admissible at trial. Dkt. 26 at 2.
Although the agreement may not be relevant to any issue at
trial, Defendants are correct that it may be relevant to any
offset in damages should the jury return a verdict in
Plaintiffs' favor. Dkt. 38 at 3-4. Thus, the Court
concludes that the agreement is discoverable. The Court,
however, declines to grant Defendants' motion because the
agreement's relevance is dependent upon a determination
of liability. If Plaintiffs prove liability, then the Court
will revisit the matter if Plaintiffs object to production at
that juncture. At this time, the Court concludes that
Plaintiffs' objection has merit and denies
Defendants' motion to produce the settlement agreement as
there has been no showing by the Defendants that the contents
of the agreement have any relevance to the issue of