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Lifegoals Corp. v. Advanced Hair Restoration LLC

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

December 19, 2017

LIFEGOALS CORP., Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANCED HAIR RESTORATION LLC, Defendant. ADVANCED HAIR RESTORATION LLC, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
JERRY DAVIS, Third-Party Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO COMPEL

          JAMES L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff Advanced Hair Restoration LLC's ("AHR") motion to compel discovery from Plaintiff LifeGoals Corp. ("LifeGoals") and Third-Party Defendant Jerry Davis. (MTC (Dkt. # 34).) The court has reviewed the parties' statements, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. The court also heard from the parties about the current status of discovery at a telephonic conference. (See 12/15/17 Min. Entry (Dkt. # 47).) Being fully advised, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part AHR's motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This case involves breach of contract claims as well as various allegations of misconduct regarding AHR's propriety information. (See FAC (Dkt. #10); Ans. & Countercl. (Dkt. # 14); 3d Party Compl. (Dkt. # 18).) AHR provides hair restoration products and services. (FAC ¶ 2.1; 3d. Party Compl. ¶¶ 9-10.) AHR signed multiple agreements with LifeGoals and its President Mr. Davis, including a Service Agreement and a Product Sales Agreement. (FAC ¶ 2.3; 3d Party Compl. ¶¶ 11, 13.) However, the parties' working relationship soon deteriorated. LifeGoals brought suit against AHR, alleging that AHR breached the Service Agreement, its duty to act in good faith, and its duty to engage in fair dealing by failing to render payment and prohibiting LifeGoals personnel from accessing AHR's premises and systems. (FAC ¶¶ 3.1-4.4.) AHR subsequently filed counterclaims against LifeGoals and a third-party complaint against Mr. Davis. (See Ans. & Countercl.; 3d Party Compl.) AHR asserts that Mr. Davis, and by extension LifeGoals, breached the Service Agreement by failing to provide the agreed-upon services and further engaged in a litany of misconduct, including corporate espionage, fraud, misappropriation of AHR's trade secrets, tortious interference, and defamation. (See Ans. & Countercl. ¶¶ 32-41; 3d Party Compl. ¶¶ 26-34.)

         On February 17, 2017, AHR sent LifeGoals 16 requests for production ("RFP"). RFP Nos. 5 and 6 sought business-related cornmunications with individuals and companies during a specified period of time. (1st Free Decl. (Dkt. # 35) ¶ 2, Ex. A ("1st RFP") at 12.) RFP No. 10 sought "all documents constituting any communication" relating to the "subject matter of this lawsuit." (Id. at 13.) RFP No. 13 sought communications discussing contracts with AHR. And RFP No. 14 sought documents related to the end of the business relationship with AHR. (Id. at 14.)

         LifeGoals's initial response and objections to these RFPs, submitted on March 20, 2017, contained several errors. (See 1st Free. Decl. ¶ 3.) First, the responses were not signed as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (See id., Ex. C ("1st Resp. to 1st RFP"); id. ¶ 4, Ex. F ("4/7/17 Letter")); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(g)(1). Second, LifeGoals included several objections that the parties later agreed were without basis in law. (See 4/7/17 Letter at 1-2.) For example, LifeGoals claimed that it did not need to turn over "proprietary" or "preparatory" information in response to RFP Nos. 5 and 6 (1st Resp. to 1st RFP at 8, 16-17); the parties eventually agreed that these were improper objections (4/7/17 Letter at l).[1] Third, LifeGoals also objected to RFP Nos. 10, 13, and 14 based upon attorney-client privilege. (1st Resp. to 1st RFP at 9-10, 17-18.) However, LifeGoals did not describe the nature or number of documents being withheld, nor did they attach a privilege log. (See id.) Because of the many errors in this first response, the parties agreed that LifeGoals would submit a revised response with a privilege log. (4/7/17 Letter at 1-2.)

         LifeGoals changed several of its objections in its revised response on April 21, 2017. LifeGoals asserts in response to RFP Nos. 5 and 6 that it provided responsive documents "except where prohibited by [non-disclosure agreements ("NDAs")] signed with [third parties]." (1st Free. Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. D ("2d Resp. to 1st RFP") at 19.) As to RFP Nos. 10, 13, and 14, LifeGoals withdrew its privilege objections; instead, LifeGoals now claims that no documents constituting communication relating to the subject matter of the lawsuit exist and that it has already disclosed all documents pertaining to contracts with AHR and the end of that business relationship. (Id. at 19-20.) None of the disclosed documents implicated attorney-client privilege. (1st Free. Decl. ¶ 8.)

         On May 17, 2017, LifeGoals submitted a privilege log that contained only documents covered by the NDAs. (1st Free. Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. E ("Privilege Log").) AHR inquired as to whether this privilege log was complete (id., ¶ 4, Ex. G ("8/11/17 Letter") at 3), and LifeGoals represented on numerous occasions that the privilege log is a "complete accounting of all responsive documents withheld under privilege" (id. ¶ 10). LifeGoals has continued to maintain that it is not withholding any responsive documents, including any privileged documents. (Id. ¶ 11, Ex. L.) AHR continues to dispute this assertion. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         On August 11, 2017, AHR sent Mr. Davis a second set of RFPs containing 14 requests. (See generally 1st Free Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. B ("2d RFP").) On October 9, Mr. Davis objected to all 14 RFPs on the ground that he could not disclose certain requested documents that fell within the NDA. (Id. ¶ 5, Ex. H ("Resp. to 2d RFP") at 1-2; MTC at 3.) Mr. Davis did not produce any documents in response to this second RFP. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         On November 2, 2017, AHR filed the present motion to compel seeking: (1) documents withheld under the NDAs (MTC at 7-9), and (2) all documents "encompassed by AHR's discovery requests" that would otherwise be protected by privilege (id. at 12). LifeGoals and Mr. Davis raise only one argument in response: that third-parties object to the production of the documents. (Resp. (Dkt. # 38) at 2.) Despite several attempted negotiations, the parties informed the court during the telephonic conference that no progress has been made in resolving these issues. The court now addresses the motion.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Documents Withheld Under the NDA

         LifeGoals and Mr. Davis withheld documents under the NDA in response to: (1) RFPs No. 5 and 6 in the first set of requests served on February 17, 2017, and (2) all 14 RFPs in the second set of requests served on August 11, 2017. (See 2d Resp. to 1st RFP at 19-20; Resp. to 2d RFP at 1-2.) AHR raises two arguments in support of its motion to compel these documents. First, AHR argues that the objections premised on the NDR were waived because they were untimely. (MTC at 7.) Second, AHR purports that a NDA is not grounds to bar discovery. (Id. at 8.) The court agrees with both arguments. // Generally, a party that has been served with an RFP has 30 days to respond. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(A). It is well established that when a party fails to respond within that time frame, any potential objections not raised are waived. See Richmark Corp. v. Timber Falling Consultants,959 F.2d 1468, 1473 (9th Cir. 1992). This general rule of waiver extends to new objections raised for the first time in an ...


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