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Johnson v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC

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

June 2, 2017

ROBERT JOHNSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER

          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC's (“Nationstar”) motion for a protective order regarding Plaintiffs Robert Johnson and Kristin Johnson's (collectively, “the Johnsons”) notice for a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) deposition. (Mot. (Dkt. # 22).) The court has considered the motion, the parties' submissions in support of and opposition to the motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court grants in part and denies in part Nationstar's motion as described herein.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Johnsons filed this action on July 1, 2016. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) The Johnsons allege that they suffered damages because Nationstar improperly initiated foreclosure proceedings against their home. (See generally id.) They assert claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., and Washington's Consumer Protection Act, RCW ch. 19.86. (Compl. ¶¶ 21-26, 40-42.) They also assert claims for negligence and negligent training and supervision. (Id. ¶¶ 27-39.)

         On October 14, 2016, the court issued a scheduling order. (Sched. Ord. (Dkt. # 11).) The court set the trial to start on September 11, 2017. (Id. at 1.) The court also set the discovery cutoff on May 15, 2017, and the deadline for motions related to discovery issues on April 14, 2017. (Id.) The court set the deadline for filing dispositive motions on June 13, 2017. (Id.) Nationstar filed a motion for partial summary judgment on May 4, 2017. (See Nationstar PSJ Mot. (Dkt. # 16).) The Johnsons filed a response to Nationstar's motion and a cross motion for summary judgment on May 25, 2017. (Johnson SJ Mot. (Dkt. # 31).)

         On May 3, 2017, the Johnsons served Nationstar with a notice for a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of Nationstar in Seattle, Washington, on May 12, 2017. (1st Bollero Decl. (Dkt. # 23) ¶ 5, Ex. M.) The Johnsons served their deposition notice upon Nationstar prior to the May 15, 2017, discovery cutoff, but after the April 14, 2017, deadline for filing motions related to discovery issues. (See Sched. Ord. at 1; see also 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. M; Resp. (Dkt. # 26) at 2; Sturdevant Decl. (Dkt. # 27) ¶ 3.)

         According to Nationstar's counsel, “Nationstar typically does not have witnesses available for [c]ourt appearances, depositions, mediations, and related proceedings without being provided at least 30 days' advance notice.” (Id. ¶ 3.) On May 3, 2017, Nationstar's counsel informed the Johnsons' counsel that Nationstar did not have any witnesses available for a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition until sometime in June 2017. (See Mot. at 3; see also 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.) Nationstar's counsel requested that the Johnsons' counsel provide alternate dates for the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.) The parties also discussed a possible extension of the discovery cutoff. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.)

         On May 8, 2017, the Johnsons' counsel advised Nationstar's counsel of his availability on any Monday in June. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.) On May 9, 2017, Nationstar's counsel confirmed to the Johnsons' counsel that Nationstar's Rule 30(b)(6) witness would be available on June 19, 2017. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.) However, Nationstar's counsel also stated that she was not sure if Nationstar would agree to an extension of the discovery cutoff for the purpose of conducting the deposition. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.) In response, the Johnsons' counsel indicated his intention to go forward with the May 12, 2017, noticed Rule 30(b)(6) deposition unless Nationstar filed a motion for a protective order. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.)

         Nationstar also objects to the Johnsons' Rule 30(b)(6) deposition notice because the Johnsons scheduled the deposition in Seattle, Washington, rather than in Coppell, Texas, which is the location of Nationstar's main office. (See Mot. at 3; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶¶ 2-3.) The Johnsons' attorney, however, responds that he is “prepared to depose Nationstar over the telephone.” (Sturdevant Decl. ¶ 3.)

         On May 11, 2017, Nationstar filed the present motion for a protective order seeking protection that “its deposition not . . . occur on the date and location as currently scheduled.”[2] (See Mot. at 6.) The Johnsons oppose the motion.[3] (See generally Resp.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         “The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Options available to the court include “forbidding the disclosure or discovery . . . [and] forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain matters.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(A), (D). The party seeking to limit discovery has the burden of proving ‘good cause, ' which requires a showing ‘that specific prejudice or harm will result' if the protective order is not granted.” Schreib v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 304 F.R.D. 282, 285 (W.D. Wash. 2014) (quoting In re Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland in Or., 661 F.3d 417, 424 (9th Cir. 2011)).

         The court will grant in part Nationstar's motion because, with little consultation, the Johnsons noted the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition on a date that Nationstar's Rule 30(b)(6) designated deponent was not available. However, Nationstar's blanket position that it typically does not make deposition witnesses available “without being provided at least 30 days' advance notice” is unreasonable. (See Sturdevant Decl. ¶ 3.) At a minimum, Nationstar must inquire as to a specific witness's actual availability for a properly noticed deposition prior to insisting on the witness's unavailability or the rescheduling of the deposition. In any event, the parties have already arrived at a solution to their scheduling issue. Counsel for the parties and Nationstar's Rule 30(b)(6) deponent are all available on Monday, June 19, 2017. (See Mot. at 4; 1st Bollero Decl. ¶ 2.) Thus, the court grants an extension of the discovery cutoff until June 19, ...


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