United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MARIA UCHYTIL, on behalf of the United States of America, Plaintiff,
AVANDE, INC., a Washington corporation, AVANDE FEDERAL SERVICES, a Delaware corporation, and ACCENTURE FEDERAL SERVICES LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation, Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion for a
protective order (Dkt. No. 121) and Plaintiff/Relator Maria
Uchytil's (“Relator”) cross-motion to compel
(Dkt. No 125). Having thoroughly considered the parties'
briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral
argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in
part both motions (Dkt. Nos. 121, 125) for the reasons
filed this action on behalf of the United States pursuant to
the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
See 31 U.S.C. § 3724. Relator alleges that
Defendants procured government contracts for their computer
software product Task Management Tool (“TMS”),
through fraudulent statements. (Dkt. No. 105.) Parties are
nearing the end of discovery and are unable to resolve a
dispute over the scope of production.
December 18, 2017, Relator issued Defendants a discovery
request seeking documents related to TMT “from April
23, 2010 to the present.” (See Dkt. Nos. 121
at 5, 112-13 at 8, 10, 11.) Defendants oppose this request,
asserting that discovery should be limited to “specific
contracts (23) and a specific time period (2010-),
” based on contracts listed in the Second Amended
Complaint (“SAC”) (the “Accused
Contracts”), and the time period they describe as the
“focus” of the pleadings. (Dkt. No. 121 at 1.)
Relator asks the Court to compel production of all contracts,
invoices, software releases, revenue data, and time records
relating to all versions of TMT from April 2010 to the
present. (Dkt. No. 125 at 3-4.)
motions are strongly disfavored. The party resisting
discovery has the burden to establish when limitations are
appropriate. Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d
418, 429 (9th Cir. 1975). The Court will first address
Defendants' motion for a broad protective order and will
subsequently address Relator's motion to compel specific
Court finds it appropriate to temporally limit discovery to
the time period of 2010 to 2012. Relator seeks discovery from
2010 to the present. Defendants object that this request is
“overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents that
are neither relevant nor proportional to the needs of the
case.” (Dkt. No. 122 at 6.) The Court finds
Relator's request inconsistent with the principles of
discovery and the pleading requirements for cases alleging
pleadings “logically shape the scope of
discovery.” United States ex rel. Jacobs v. CDS,
P.A., Case No. C14-0301-BLW, 2016 WL 4146077, at *2 (D.
Idaho Aug. 3, 2016) (denying discovery for a “broader
time period than that detailed in the complaint”);
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) Advisory Committee
Note-2000 Amendments. All specific allegations of misconduct
in the SAC occurred between April 2010 and December
2012. To expand discovery beyond this point,
Relator relies on vague language in the pleadings alleging
misconduct “beginning in May 2010 and continuing at
least until the time [she] left AVAFed” on January
31, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 105 at 11-14, 125 at 4-6) (emphasis
added). Given the heightened pleading standard for fraud
claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b), these
general allegations are not sufficient to allow discovery to
extend five years beyond specific allegations in the
pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b); U.S. ex rel. Spay v. CVS
Caremark Corp., Case No. C09-4672, 2013 WL 4525226 at *2
(E.D. Pa. Aug 27, 2013) (“cursory allegations”
that defendant “contine[d]” to engage in
fraudulent conduct beyond time period of specific allegations
“are unquestionably insufficient to open the door to
broad and burdensome discovery”).
further argues that discovery should extend to the present
based on Defendants' development of a “clean
room” version of TMT. (Dkt. No. 134 at 2.) She avers
she has examined versions of TMT released through August 2016
and determined that Defendants never developed a clean-room
version of the software. (Id.) Relator argues this
evidence indicates that Defendants continued to fraudulently
sell TMT to government customers through the present day.
(Id.) But the operative complaint discusses
development of a “clean room” version of TMT only
through December 2012. (See Dkt. No. 105 at 11.)
Relator “cannot broaden the scope of [her] pleading by
submission of this evidence.” U.S. ex rel.
Spay, Case No. C09-4672, 2013 WL 4525226 at *3.
court in Spay noted that claims governed by Rule
9(b) must have “discernable boundaries and manageable
discovery limits.” Id. (citing U.S. ex.
rel. Clausen v. Lab. Corp. of Am., Inc., 198 F.R.D. 560,
564 (N.D.Ga. 2000), aff'd 290 F.3d 1301 (11th
Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1105
(2003). Extending discovery based on non-specific claims
of continued misconduct or allegations not in the pleadings
would be inconsistent with this principle. It would also
impose a significant burden on Defendants, who would be
required to produce five additional years of documents near
the close of discovery and to potentially seek additional
production from Government agencies. (See Dkt. No.
121 at 5) (describing extensive discovery efforts thus far.)
Thus, the Court finds it reasonable to limit additional
discovery to the period of January 1, 2010 to December 31,
also seek to limit discovery to documents connected to
contracts named in the SAC. (Dkt. No. 131 at 3.) Relator
maintains that these are merely “example
contracts” that do not limit the scope of her claims.
(Dkt. No. 125 at 9). The Court finds that Defendants have not