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Blosser v. Ashcroft, Inc.

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

September 19, 2017

WILLIAM C. BLOSSER and MARCIA J. BLOSSER, Plaintiffs,
v.
ASHCROFT, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS TO COMPEL

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff William and Marcia Blosser's (“Blossers”) motion to compel Weir Valve & Controls USA, Inc. (“Weir”) to respond fully to discovery (Dkt. 126), motion to compel William Powell Company (“William Powell”) to respond fully to discovery (Dkt. 130), and motion to compel Flowserve US, Inc. (“Flowserve”) to respond fully to discovery (Dkt. 132). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby denies the motions for the reasons stated herein.

         I.PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 31, 2017, the Blossers filed a complaint against numerous defendants, including Weir, William Powell, and Flowserve, alleging liability resulting from exposure to asbestos. Dkt. 1.

         On July 26, 2017, the Blossers filed a motion to compel Weir to comply with discovery requests. Dkt. 126. On August 7, 2017, Weir responded. Dkt. 140. On August 10, 2017, the Blossers replied. Dkt. 159.

         On July 31, 2017, the Blossers filed motions to compel William Powell and Flowserve to comply with discovery requests. Dkts. 130, 132. On August 14, 2017, William Powell and Flowserve responded. Dkts. 165, 168. On August 18, 2017, the Blossers replied. Dkts. 170, 172.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard

         “On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). “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).

         A motion to compel “must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1).

         B. Weir

         In this motion, it is unclear whether the parties conferred or attempted to confer to resolve this dispute without Court action. While the Blossers' attorney certifies that he called and emailed Weir's attorney, he declares that he threatened a motion to compel regardless of Weir's attempt to comply with the discovery requests. Dkt. 127, ¶ 3 (“we would be filing a motion to compel regardless because our document requests were broader than the limitation Weir had unilaterally imposed.”). Similarly, Weir has submitted an email exchange including the exact same threat to file a motion to compel without any indication of a good faith attempt to resolve this dispute. Dkt. 141 at 164. This failure alone is sufficient to deny the motion to compel. The Court, however, will briefly address the merits of the apparent dispute.

         The parties' failure to confer and establish a concrete dispute is evident from the briefing. Although Weir correctly contends that the Blossers' motion “raises grievances with a myriad of issues not previously discussed between counsel, ” Dkt. 140 at 5, the parties appear to be at an impasse regarding Weir's search of its electronic database. The Court agrees with the Blossers that the information it seeks seems relevant and readily identifiable. For example, the Blossers seek information on “any and all Atwood-Morrill valves on the Kitty Hawk and the Peleliu at any time, as well as any of its valves and replacement parts sent to PSNS in 1976 and 1977 when Mr. Blosser was working there.” Dkt. 126 at 8.

         In response, Weir contends that its database is not searchable by ship name or hull number and that doing a manual review would be “incomprehensible.” Dkt. 142, ¶¶ 5, 8. Weir's response seems rather illusive in that it asserts there is only one possible way to electronically search its database. While the database may be organized by valve number, this doesn't sufficiently explain why the database may only be searched by the specific valve number. For example, the Blossers argue that “Weir offers no legitimate reason why it cannot use [optical character recognition] on its electronic database.” Dkt. 159 at 2. The Court agrees. Otherwise, parties would be encouraged to maintain inaccessible databases to limit their discovery obligations. To the extent that Weir's database may be subject to alternative search parameters, the parties shall meet and confer on this issue. Weir may need to consult a third party vendor if necessary because, without ...


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