United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
SATBINDER ATHWAL, individually and on behalf of the Estate of HARKANWAL SINGH ATHWAL, deceased, Plaintiff,
JAY NIJJER and “JANE DOE” NIJJER, individually and as a marital community, Defendants, and INDIGO HOLDINGS, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Nominal Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
S. Lasnik United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on “Plaintiff's
Motion to Compel Discovery Responses.” Dkt. # 27. This
case involves a dispute over plaintiff's alleged fifty
percent ownership interest in Indigo Holdings, LLC
(hereinafter “Indigo”). Plaintiff asserts claims
of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, wrongful
interference with a business relationship, fraudulent
misrepresentation, and violation of the Washington Limited
Liability Company Act under RCW 25.15 et seq., among other
claims. Having reviewed the memoranda, declarations, and
exhibits submitted by the parties, the Court finds as
October 4, 2017, plaintiff served her First Set of
Interrogatories and Requests for Production on Indigo and her
First Requests for Admission on Jay and Jane Doe Nijjer. Dkt.
#28 at Ex. B, Ex. C; Dkt. #29-1 at ¶ 6. The initial
response date was November 2, 2017. The parties agreed to
continue the deadline until December 11, 2017. Dkt. #29-1 at
¶ 9. Defendants submitted their answers on December 11,
2017, but they were incomplete. Dkt. #29-1 at ¶ 9. At a
meet and confer conference on December 14, 2017, the parties
agreed that defendants would supplement their answers and
documents by December 22, 2017. Dkt. #29-1 at ¶ 9.
However, on December 22, 2017, defendants produced some
informal discovery and informed plaintiff that they would not
provide the supplemental discovery responses until the first
week of January. Dkt. #29-1 at ¶ 10. Plaintiff brought
this motion to compel on December 28, 2017. Dkt. #27.
Defendants produced supplemental discovery responses on
January 8, 2018. Dkt. #29-1 at ¶ 12. Discovery closed on
February 5, 2018. Dkt. #18.
argue that plaintiff's motion was unnecessary because
they were already in the process of supplementing discovery
and that it is now moot as their discovery production is
complete. Defendants also argue that many of plaintiff's
requests were over-broad in scope and difficult to answer as
they required gathering information from disparate sources.
Finally, defendants argue that plaintiff exceeded the
permissible number of interrogatories through the use of
sub-questions. The motion to compel is not moot: production
after a party is forced to file a motion to compel may still
be sanctioned, and plaintiff argues that the January 8, 2018,
supplemental production remains incomplete. In light of the
fact that defendants filed supplemental responses between the
initial motion to compel and plaintiff's ultimate reply,
the Court will consider only those items argued in
Interrogatory No. 1: Is your response to
each request for admission served with these interrogatories
an unqualified admission? If not, for each response that is
not an unqualified admission: (a) state the number of the
request; (b) state all the facts upon which you base your
response; (c) state the NAMES, ADDRESSES, and TELEPHONE
NUMBERS of all PERSONS who have knowledge of those facts; (d)
identify all DOCUMENTS and other tangible things that support
your response and state the NAME, ADDRESS, and TELEPHONE
NUMBER of the PERSON who has each DOCUMENT or thing.
answer is a mishmash of references and statements. Dkt. #32
at 10. It fails to provide much of the requested information,
including the number of the request for admission to which it
corresponds, addresses of the persons listed, or any
information about supporting documents and who may have them.
Therefore, the answer is deficient.
points out that the representation that KS Accounting
prepared Indigo's taxes in 2012 and 2013 contradicts
defendants' prior statement that Olsen & Company CPAs
has been the only accounting firm used by Indigo to prepare
its taxes since formation. Defendants are reminded that
admissions are considered conclusively established and that
responses to interrogatories are made under oath.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3); 36(b).
Interrogatory No. 2: How much of the
distributions noted on the attached Exhibit A and Exhibit B
have actually been remitted to Hark, Sally, and/or ESSA
Investments? If all of the distributions have not been
remitted: (a) What portion has not been remitted? (b) Why has
that portion been withheld? (c) Where is the withheld portion
of the distribution? (d) What was the money used for or being
held for? (e) Provide the bank and bank account numbers where
the unremitted distributions are being held.
Indigo provides a supplemental answer to this interrogatory,
it answers only subpart (a) and glosses over subparts (b)
through (e). This answer is, therefore, deficient. The Court
also notes that the answer provided appears inconsistent with
Indigo's 2015 tax returns, see Dkt. #28 at Ex.
M, and reminds Indigo that its interrogatory answers are
under oath. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3).
Interrogatory No. 6: Describe in detail the
reason for each transaction listed below involving Indigo
Wells Fargo Bank Account # ___3294. Provide an accounting as
to the source and/or recipient of the said transaction, and
for all withdrawals and outgoing wires explain why you
authorized the transaction: [the interrogatory lists
twenty-four transactions occurring between May 8, 2012, and
June 14, 2017.]
objects to Interrogatory No. 6 on the ground that each of the
twenty-four listed transactions constitutes a discrete
subpart and that plaintiff's interrogatories therefore
exceed the twenty-five interrogatory limit permitted under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(1). Dkt. #29-1 at ¶ 8. The
supplemental production provides details for only four of the
Rule of Civil Procedure 33(a)(1) provides: “[u]nless
otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, a party may
serve on any other party no more than 25 written
interrogatories, including all discrete subparts.” Rule
33 does not, however, define “discrete subparts.”
The Advisory Committee states:
Parties cannot . . . join as ‘subparts' questions
that seek information about discrete separate subjects.
However, a question asking about communications of a
particular type should be treated as a single interrogatory
even though it requests that the time, place, persons
present, and contents be stated separately for each such
Fed. R. Civ. P. 33 Advisory Committee Notes regarding 1993
Amendment. “[T]he task of counting interrogatories
requires a case-specific assessment.” Synopsys,
Inc. v. ATopTech, Inc., 319 F.R.D. 293, 295 (N.D. Cal.
2016). “The subparts can be explicit
or implicit; the number of subparts does not turn on the
formalism of labeling.” Erfindergemeinschaft Uropep
GbR v. Eli Lilly & Co., 315 F.R.D. 191, 195 (E.D.
Tex. 2016) (citing 7 James Wm. Moore, Moore's Federal
Practice § 33.30, at 33-33 (3d ed. 2016);
Safeco of Am. v. Rawstron, 181 F.R.D. 441, 443
(C.D.Cal.1998)). While courts have formulated various tests
for determining when subparts are a separate interrogatory,
“courts generally agree that interrogatory subparts are
to be counted as one interrogatory ... if they are logically
or factually subsumed within and necessarily related to the
primary question.” Trevino ...