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Eagle West Insurance Co. v. Watts Regulator Co.

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

August 2, 2017

EAGLE WEST INSURANCE COMPANY, as subrogee of Cypress Place Condominium Owners' Association, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to compel (Dkt. No. 19) and Defendant's motion to continue trial (Dkt. No. 23). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS both motions for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On approximately May 20, 2015, there was a leak at a condominium complex owned by Cypress Place Condominium Owners' Association. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 3.) The leak originated from a water expansion tank manufactured by Defendant Amtrol, Inc. (Id.) Plaintiff Eagle West Insurance Company's expert, Kent Engineering, produced a preliminary opinion regarding the cause of the leak on December 21, 2015. (Dkt. No. 24-1.) Kent Engineering attributed the leak to a rubber bladder failing because of a faulty automatic control valve (ACV) manufactured by Defendant Watts Regulator Company.[1] (Id. at 6.)

         Plaintiff served discovery requests on Defendant on May 20, 2016, while the case was in state court. (Dkt. No. 19 at 2; Dkt. No. 1). Watts then removed the case to federal court. (Dkt. No. 1.) Defendant did not respond to the initial discovery requests, prompting Plaintiff to send a letter requesting responses on June 28, 2016. (Dkt. No. 19 at 3.) Afterwards, Defendant and Plaintiff exchanged correspondence regarding the appropriate time to begin discovery because of the removal. (Dkt. No. 30-1 at 18.) Defendant first responded to the discovery requests on September 13, 2016. (Dkt. No. 20-2.) On April 20, 2017, Plaintiff and Defendant agreed to extend discovery from June 16, 2017, until July 7, 2017. (Dkt. No. 14.)

         On June 15, 2017, Plaintiff revised its theory as to what caused the damage. (Dkt. No. 36-1.) Rather than blame Watts's ACV, Plaintiff stated that Defendant negligently designed the expansion tank so that an internal schraeder valve would puncture the rubber bladder. (Id.) Then on June 20, 2017, Plaintiff and Watts stipulated to Watts's dismissal. (Dkt. No. 16.) Subsequently, on June 21, 2017, Kent Engineering supplied an updated report as to the suspected cause of the failure, stating Defendant's failure to coat the air side of the expansion tank led to internal corrosion that caused the bladder to fail. (Dkt. No. 24-1 at 16.) Also on that day, Plaintiff took a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of Lynn A. Taylor, manager of Defendant's legal and warranty administration, seeking information regarding filed claims of expansion tank failures. (Dkt. No. 20-7.)

         Defendant later provided Plaintiff with a report and opinion from its fact and expert witness, Robert Manser, an engineer at Amtrol, on July 7, 2017. (Dkt. No. 29 at 8.)

         Plaintiff filed the present motion to compel discovery on July 5, 2017, and also argues that Manser should be excluded as a witness because he was not timely disclosed. (Dkt. No. 19.)

         Defendant filed the current motion to continue soon after, on the final day of the extended discovery. (Dkt. No. 23.) Trial is currently scheduled for October 16, 2017. (Dkt. No. 29 at 8.)


         A. Legal Standard

         The Court has broad discretion to decide whether to compel disclosure of discovery. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. General Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002). “Parties 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). When addressing proportionality, the Court considers “the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Id.

         Similarly, the Court has broad discretion in granting modifications to the schedule. “A schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). “The pretrial schedule may be modified if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension. If the party seeking the modification was not diligent, the inquiry should end and the motion to modify should not be granted.” Zivkovic v. S. Cal. Edison Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal citations omitted). For example, in Escandon v. Los Angeles, 584 F. App'x 517, 519 (9th Cir. 2014), the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a motion to continue because the moving party failed to propound any discovery, compel discovery responses, and file the motion before the expiration of discovery. Four factors are used to analyze motions to modify the trial schedule: (1) the diligence of the moving party; (2) the need for continuance; (3) inconvenience for the Court and the non-moving party; and (4) the harm caused by denial of a continuance. United States v. 2.61 Acres of Land, 791 F.2d 666, 671 (9th Cir. 1985).

         B. ...

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