United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
TAMMY J. DETRAY and GREGORY S. DETRAY, Plaintiffs,
AIG INSURANCE COMPANY OF CANADA f/k/a CHARTIS INSURANCE COMPANY OF CANADA d/b/a CHARTIS INSURANCE; NORTHBRIDGE COMMERCIAL INSURANCE CORPORATION; and MULLEN TRUCKING 2005 LTD, Defendants.
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Honorable Richard A. Jones This matter comes before the Court
on Plaintiffs Tammy DeTray and Gregory DeTray's Motion to
Compel Defendant Northbridge General Insurance Corporation
(“Northbridge”) to Respond to Discovery Requests
and an Award of Terms. Dkt. # 45. Defendant Northbridge
opposes the Motion. Dkt. # 47. For the reasons stated below,
Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED
in part. Dkt. # 45.
2013, a commercial truck collided with the Skagit River
Bridge in Mount Vernon, Washington, and caused it to
collapse. Dkt. # 1-2 ¶ 5.1. The truck was being guided
at the time by a pilot vehicle operated by Plaintiff Tammy
DeTray. Dkt. # 15 Ex. A. The truck was owned and operated by
Defendant Mullen Trucking 2005 Ltd. (“Mullen”), a
Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta. Mullen was
insured by Northbridge. The State of Washington brought a
lawsuit against Mrs. DeTray in Skagit County Superior Court
alleging that she negligently caused the bridge to collapse.
Dkt. # 45. Mrs. DeTray tendered her defense of this suit to
Northbridge. This underlying lawsuit is still pending.
April 11, 2017, Northbridge filed a separate lawsuit against
Mrs. DeTray in Calgary, Alberta. Plaintiffs then filed this
action in Skagit County Superior Court. Shortly thereafter,
Defendants removed the lawsuit to this Court. Dkt. # 45. On
October 26, 2017, Northbridge filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment that is currently pending. Dkt. # 34. One of the
arguments Northbridge makes in its Motion for Summary
Judgment is that this Court lacks jurisdiction over them.
Id. On November 3, 2017, the parties filed a
Stipulation to re-note the Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt.
# 40. On December 21, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this Motion to
Compel. Dkt. # 45.
Court has broad discretion to control discovery. Avila v.
Willits Envtl. Remediation Trust, 633 F.3d 828, 833 (9th
Cir. 2011). That discretion is guided by several principles.
Most importantly, the scope of discovery is broad. A party
must respond to any relevant discovery request that is not
privileged and that is “reasonably calculated to lead
to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). The Court, however, must limit discovery where it
can be obtained from some other source that is more
convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive, or where its
“burden or expense . . . outweighs its likely benefit,
considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy,
the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at
stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in
resolving these issues.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i),
represent that they made an agreement with Northbridge to
stay the Motion for Summary Judgment to permit discovery
related to jurisdictional matters. Plaintiffs also represent
that they agreed to confine the initial phase of discovery in
this case to jurisdictional matters while the Motion for
Summary Judgment was pending. Dkt. # 45. Plaintiffs allege
that despite these agreements, Northbridge has objected to
every interrogatory and request for production and will not
produce witnesses for deposition. Northbridge argues that the
discovery Plaintiffs request is not relevant, based on its
determination of the proper legal argument to be addressed in
response to its Motion for Summary Judgment. Northbridge
further argues that it has adequately responded to
Plaintiffs' discovery requests based on that assessment.
for purposes of discovery is defined very broadly.”
Garneau v. City of Seattle, 147 F.3d 802, 812 (9th
Cir. 1998). Information is relevant if “it might
reasonably assist a party in evaluating the case, preparing
for trial or facilitating settlement.” Id.
(quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 506-507,
67 S.Ct. 385, 91 L.Ed. 451 (1947)). Northbridge's
reasoning for why it denied discovery is essentially a legal
determination of how Plaintiffs can and should respond to its
Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiffs assert that this
discovery is necessary to allow them to determine how to
respond to Northbridge's Motion and it is inappropriate
for Northbridge to attempt to make that determination on
their behalf. Northbridge offers no other reason that meets
its “heavy burden of showing why discovery was
denied.” Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d
418, 429 (9th Cir. 1975).
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel responses to their written
discovery is GRANTED. Northbridge is
ORDERED to provide full and complete
responses to Plaintiffs' written discovery and to produce
responsive documents. Plaintiffs' request that the Court
order Northbridge to produce witnesses for deposition is
DENIED with leave to refile after Plaintiffs
receive Northbridge's responses and can assess whether
depositions are needed at this stage in these proceedings.
The Court acknowledges that the noting date for
Northbridge's Motion for Summary Judgment was January 19,
2018, or fourteen (14) days after this Motion to Compel was
fully briefed. As such, the Court will allow the parties to
withdraw and refile their responsive briefings to
Northbridge's Motion in light of the issuance of this
Order. If the parties wish to do so, they are
ORDERED to file a stipulated motion with a
new briefing schedule within two (2) days of the issuance of
this Order. ...