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Bond v. Global Inflight Products, Inc.

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

February 14, 2018

RICHARD BOND, et al., Plaintiffs,



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to compel (Dkt. No. 22). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for the reasons explained herein.


         Richard Bond and Marie Schmid bring an employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuit alleging a manager employed by Defendant made offensive racial and sexual comments to Plaintiffs, and that Defendant terminated Plaintiffs when they complained about the comments. (Dkt. No. 1 at 2-5.) Among other damages, Plaintiffs allege lost wages, lost benefits, unfavorable changes to their credit scores, increased loan interest, late payment fees, and increased commute costs. (Dkt. No. 23-1 at 6-7.)

         During discovery, Defendant sought Plaintiffs' financial records, asserting that the information was needed to prepare a defense to Plaintiffs' damages claims. (Dkt. No. 22 at 2-3.)

         Specifically, Defendant directed the following request for production to Plaintiffs:

REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION NO. 10: Produce the monthly, quarterly, and annual statement for any account held by you, including without limitation bank accounts, investment accounts, brokerage accounts, or the like, for the period between January 1, 2012 and the present.

(Dkt. Nos. 23-2 at 11, 23-3 at 14.) Plaintiffs objected to Defendant's request on the basis that it was “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” (Dkt. Nos. 23-2 at 11, 23-3 at 15.) The parties were unable to reach an agreement on the issue through a meet and confer. Defendant then moved for an order from the Court compelling production. (Dkt. No. 22.)


         The Court strongly disfavors discovery motions and prefers that the parties resolve discovery issues on their own. However, if the parties are unable to resolve their discovery dispute, the requesting party may move for an order to compel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). The Court has broad discretion to issue such an order. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. General Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002). For the Court to issue an order to compel, the movant must demonstrate that “the information it seeks is relevant and that the responding party's objections lack merit.” Hancock v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 321 F.R.D. 383, 390 (W.D. Wash. 2017). The Court finds that Defendant has met this burden, in part, as described below.

         “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). Information is relevant if it is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005). Here, Plaintiffs' banking, investment, and brokerage statements are clearly relevant to Defendant's need to prepare a defense for the harms Plaintiffs assert-lost wages and retirement contributions, late payment fees, increased interest, and increased commuting costs. (See Dkt. No. 23-1 at 6-7.)

         Proportionality is a matter of “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.” Surfvivor Media, Inc., 406 F.3d at 635. Plaintiffs assert that the tax returns they have agreed to produce provide Defendant sufficient access to relevant information. (Dkt. No. 26 at 2-3.) On this basis, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant's request is not proportional. (Id.) The Court disagrees. While tax returns provide Defendant some information relevant to Plaintiffs' asserted damages, they do not provide complete information. They would not, for example, provide Defendant any insight into what Plaintiffs' increased commuting costs or what the impact of Plaintiffs' lost income was on their credit scores. Nor does the Court find Plaintiffs' privacy argument compelling, in light of the protective order entered in this case. (See Dkt. Nos. 21). On this basis, the Court finds that additional disclosure by Plaintiffs is appropriate, and orders Plaintiffs to do so, as described below.

         However, the Court also finds Defendant's request for production unnecessarily broad. See Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 364 F.3d 1057, 1072 (9th Cir. 2004) (“District courts need not condone the use of discovery to engage in “fishing expedition[s].”). Plaintiffs allege they were terminated in January 2016, Plaintiff Schmid was re-employed in September 2016, and Plaintiff Bond was re-employed in January 2017. (Dkt. No. 26 at 2.) Yet Defendant's Request for Production No. 10 seeks financial information from January 2012 onward. (Dkt. No. 23-2 at 11.) Accordingly, the Court limits its order directing Plaintiffs to ...

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