United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
compel (Dkt. No. 13). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for the
reasons explained herein.
terminated Plaintiff, a claims handling supervisor and
long-time employee, days after it allegedly learned that a
default judgment had been entered relating to one of the
claims that Plaintiff's subordinates managed. (Dkt. No.
13 at 7.) Just prior to his termination, Plaintiff threatened
Defendant with legal action regarding his personal medical
benefits. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 5-7.) Plaintiff brought a wrongful
termination suit alleging disability and age discrimination,
that his termination was retaliatory, and that Defendant used
the default judgment as a pretext for Plaintiff's
served written discovery on January 3, 2018. (Dkt. No. 13 at
9.) Included were the following interrogatories:
INTERROGATORY NO. 4: Please identify why plaintiff
was terminated from employment with GEICO, including: (1) how
plaintiff was informed of your decision to terminate his
employment; and (2) any written documentation supporting your
determination to terminate his employment.
INTERROGATORY NO. 11: For the years 2012-2017,
please identify each instance of disciplinary action taken by
GEICO against an employee as a result of the entry of a
default judgment against a GEICO insured. For each instance,
identify: (1) the name of the employee disciplined; (2) the
nature of the disciplinary action; (3) the date of the
disciplinary action; and (4) whether the individual remains
employed by GEICO.
(Dkt. Nos. 13 at 5; 15-12 at 4, 5, 8.) Plaintiff asserts that
Defendant's response “largely ignores”
Interrogatory No. 4 and was “evasive” and
“contorts the thrust” of Interrogatory No. 11.
(Dkt. No. 13 at 10.) Following two attempts to meet and
confer to resolve the issues, Plaintiff brings the instant
motion, asking the Court to compel Defendant to
“provide complete, non-evasive responses to the
interrogatories.” (Id. at 13); (see
Dkt. No. 15 at 1).
Court strongly disfavors discovery motions and prefers that
the parties resolve the issues on their own. However, if the
parties are unable to do so, a party may move for an order to
compel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Litigants “may obtain
discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is
relevant to the claim or defense of any party.”
Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d
625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005). “Relevant information for
purposes of discovery is information reasonably calculated to
lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
Id. “A request for discovery should be
considered relevant if there is any possibility that the
information sought may be relevant to the subject matter of
this action.” Ragge v. MCA/Universal Studios,
Inc., 165 F.R.D. 601, 604 (C.D. Cal. 1995). “The
party who resists discovery has the burden to show that
discovery should not be allowed, and has the burden of
clarifying, explaining, and supporting its objections.”
Cable & Computer Tech., Inc. v. Lockheed
Saunders, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 646, 650 (C.D. Cal.
1997). This burden is a heavy one in employment
discrimination lawsuits, where discovery rules are construed
liberally so as to provide the plaintiff with “broad
access to the employers' records.” Wards Cove
Packing Co., Inc. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642, 643 (1989).
Interrogatory No. 4
Defendant has supplemented its response to Interrogatory No.
4 since Plaintiff moved to compel. (See Dkt. Nos.
19-4 at 6; 19-5 at 4.) Defendant's response, as
supplemented, adequately addresses the interrogatory.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion to compel a full and
adequate response to Interrogatory No. 4 is DENIED as moot.
Interrogatory No. 11
Title VII claim, a plaintiff must normally demonstrate that
an otherwise permissible reason for his or her termination
was pretextual. E.E.O.C. v. Boeing Co., 577 F.3d
1044, 1049 (9th Cir. 2009). One method is to show more
favorable treatment of a similarly situated employee, i.e., a
comparator. Hawn v. Exec. Jet Mgt., Inc., 615 F.3d
1151, 1156 (9th Cir. 2010). Interrogatory No. 11 is
Plaintiff's attempt to seek out such information. To be
similarly situated, employees' situations need only be
“sufficiently similar” to “support at least
a minimal inference that the difference to treatment may be
attributable to ...