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BBC Group NV LLC v. Island Life Restaurant Group LLC

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

May 31, 2019

BBC GROUP NV LLC, a Nevada Limited Liability Company, Plaintiff, Counterclaim Defendant,
ISLAND LIFE RESTAURANT GROUP LLC, et al., Defendants, Counterclaim Plaintiffs.



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Island Life Restaurant Group, LLC and co-owners Alex Prindle and Brian O'Connor (collectively, “Island Life”)'s Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a) Motion to Compel Discovery. Dkt. #36. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion and request for sanctions.

         As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff BBC Group NV LLC (“BBC”) requests affirmative relief in its response brief in the form of sanctions and compelling discovery responses from Island Life. Dkt. #40 at 8. To compel discovery responses and request sanctions, a party must make its own motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37, including certification of good faith efforts to confer with the withholding party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1); 37(d)(1)(B). BBC's response fails to meet these requirements. Accordingly, the Court denies BBC affirmative relief.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 11, 2018, BBC filed this suit against Island Life seeking damages and permanent injunctive relief for various trademark infringement violations. On October 19, 2018, Island Life issued discovery requests in the form of six interrogatories (“ROGs”) and eleven requests for production (“RFPs”). On December 3, 2018, BBC provided its responses to Island Life's October 2018 discovery requests. Dkt. #37, Ex. 4. These responses included four pages of General Objections that BBC incorporated in each of its specific responses to Island Life's requests. See Id. Counsel for BBC initially requested a mutual two-week extension for document production, indicating that it believed many documents would be classified “Attorney Eyes Only” and therefore required entry of a protective order prior to production. Id., Ex. 3 at 2. In response, counsel for Island Life prepared a draft stipulated protective order and sought edits from BBC's counsel. Id., Ex. 5 at 3.

         From December 2018 through March 2019, counsel for Island Life made several efforts to confer with BBC so that parties could finalize the stipulated protective order and BBC could begin document production. See Dkt. #37, Exs. 5-11. On March 13, 2019, Island Life indicated that it would move to compel documents if BBC could not agree to a stipulated protective order and begin document production. Id., Ex. 10 at 1. Parties held a discovery conference on March 25, 2019, during which BBC agreed to produce documents by April 3, 2019. Dkt. #36 at 3. Parties filed a stipulated protective order on March 26, 2019, which was approved by this Court the next day. Dkt. #34. On April 4, after finding BBC's production dated April 3 insufficient, Island Life filed this Motion to Compel. Dkt. #36.

         Island Life moves to compel responses from BBC seeking documents related to: (a) BBC's plans for expansion (RFP 2); (b) BBC's damage claims (ROG 3, RFP 5); (c) BBC's communications with anyone outside of BBC regarding the creation of, selection of, or use of the names bok a bok, BOKBOK, or BOCBOC Chicken Delight (ROG 6, RFP 9); and (d) documents exchanged between BBC and/or its attorneys and Guang-Yang Li, the initial owner of the mark BOCBOC Chicken Delight in New York, and/or his attorneys (RFP 11). Id. at 7-8. Island Life also seeks sanctions against BBC for its delays in document production. Dkt. #36 at 9-10. Lastly, Island Life moves the Court to strike Plaintiff's “General Objections” as improper under Fed.R.Civ.P. 33 and 34. Id. at 6.


         A. Legal Standard

         “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, considering 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable. Id. “District courts have broad discretion in determining relevancy for discovery purposes.” Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002)). If requested discovery is not answered, the requesting party may move for an order compelling such discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). The party that resists discovery has the burden to show why the discovery request should be denied. Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d 418, 429 (9th Cir. 1975).

         B. BBC's Plans for Expansion (ROG 2, RFP 2)

         Island Life requests all documents related to BBC's plans for future expansion, including plans for both current and future Bok Bok restaurants. Dkt. #37, Ex. 2. BBC acknowledges that there are a number of documents pertaining to expansion “that Plaintiff is working on compiling” and that BBC “has every intention of supplementing its responses and providing further responsive documents as they become available.” Dkt. #40 at 6. For those plans related to expansions already underway, such as Los Angeles, BBC has failed to explain why all responsive documents were not provided to Defendants prior to this Motion to Compel. The Court concludes that an order compelling disclosure is warranted.

         C. BBC's Damage Claims (ROG 3, RFP 5)

         Island Life requests each element of alleged damages that BBC incurred as a result of acts and omissions taken by Island Life, including special and general damages, and the computed amount of damages. Dkt. #37, Ex. 2. BBC claims that Island Life “is seeking a document which does not exist” because BBC intends to hire an expert to review Island Life's operations and calculate damages. Dkt. #40 at 5. For that reason, BBC claims, damages calculations “cannot ...

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