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Yohannes v. Olympic Collection Inc.

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

June 20, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Aklilu Yohannes's “Motion to Compel Complete Answer to Interrogatories.” Dkt. #79. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


         This case concerns an alleged debt owed from plaintiff Yohannes to Baker Dental Implants & Periodontics (“Baker Dental”), dating back to 2005 or 2006. On March 1, 2006, a lawsuit was filed against plaintiff in the Snohomish County District Court. A default judgment was entered against him on May 1, 2006. Right before the default judgment was set to expire, see RCW 6.27.010(1), defendants[1] attempted to collect. On April 7, 2016, an application and writ of garnishment was entered in the amount of $1, 886.67. Eventually, by the end of May 2016, plaintiff informed defendants of his intention to file a lawsuit. Defendants refunded the money. However, plaintiff maintains that he was harmed by defendants' attempts to collect the alleged debt. He brings claims under inter alia the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, see 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., Washington's Collection Agency Act, see RCW 19.16 et seq., and Washington's Consumer Protection Act, see RCW 19.86 et seq. Dkt. #32 (Compl.).

         On January 15, 2019, plaintiff served his First Set of Interrogatories on OCI. Dkt. #79-2 (Yohannes Decl.) at ¶ 2; see Ex. 1, Dkt. #79-3. OCI responded on February 1, 2019. Id. at ¶ 3. On February 6, 2019, plaintiff sent defense counsel an email setting out certain deficiencies. Id. at ¶ 4; see Ex. 3, Dkt. #79-5. He sent another follow up email on February 16, 2019. Id. at ¶ 5; see Ex. 4, Dkt. #79-6. On February 26, 2019, defense counsel sent its amended responses to the interrogatories. Id. at ¶ 6; see Ex. 2, Dkt. #79-4. On March 4, 4019, plaintiff sent another email to defense counsel, stating that the amended responses “did not properly address the issues raised in [his] February 6, 2019 email.” Ex. 5, Dkt. #79-7; see Yohannes Decl. at ¶ 7. In an email dated March 5, 2019, defense counsel suggested that parties meet and confer. Yohannes Decl. at ¶ 8; see Ex. 6, Dkt. #79-8. They spoke on the phone on March 12, 2019. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff reduced the scope of one of his interrogatories. Id. at ¶ 10. According to plaintiff, defense counsel promised that another set of amended responses would be sent by the end of the week. Id. at ¶ 11.

         On March 15, 2019, plaintiff received an unexecuted copy of OCI's responses for his review. Id. at ¶ 12. He wrote to defense counsel on March 16, 2019, again pointing out certain deficiencies. Id. at ¶ 13; see Ex. 7, Dkt. #79-9 at 3-4. He sent a follow up email on March 20, 2019, asking if defense counsel was willing to file a joint motion. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15; see Ex. 7, Dkt. #79-9 at 3. Defense counsel responded on the same day. He declined to file a joint motion and reiterated that defendants had fully responded to plaintiff's interrogatories. Id. at ¶ 15; see Ex. 7, Dkt. #79-9 at 1. On March 21, 2019, OCI provided an executed copy of its amended responses. Id. at ¶ 16; see Ex. 2, Dkt. #79-4. On the same day, plaintiff requested additional information regarding one of the interrogatories. Id. at ¶ 17. Defense counsel responded that plaintiff should be able to obtain it himself. Id. On March 26, 2019, plaintiff informed defense counsel of his intent to file a motion to compel. Id. at ¶ 18. Defense counsel responded on March 27, 2019, stating that OCI had cooperated fully. Id. at ¶ 19; see Ex. 8; Dkt. #79-10. Plaintiff filed this motion on April 11, 2019. Dkt. #79.


         A. Legal Standard

         The Court has “broad discretion to manage discovery.” Avila v. Willits Envtl. Remediation Tr., 633 F.3d 828, 833 (9th Cir. 2011). In general, “[p]arties 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). “If a party fails to answer an interrogatory, the “party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an answer.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). “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.” Brown v. Warner, No. C09-1546RSM, 2015 WL 630926, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 12, 2015) (quoting Cable & Computer Tech., Inc. v. Lockheed Sanders, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 646, 650 (C.D. Cal. 1997)).

         A party who has responded to an interrogatory “must supplement or correct its disclosure or response … in a timely manner if the party learns that in some material respect the disclosure or response is incomplete or incorrect, and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing.” Fed R. Civ. P. 26(e); see Litle & Co. v. Mann, 145 F.3d 1339 (9th Cir. 1998).

         B. OCI's Responses to Plaintiff's Interrogatories[2]

         a. Interrogatory No. 2

         In Interrogatory No. 2, plaintiff requests that OCI identify all the individuals with whom it is in contact at Baker Dental and the purpose and dates of its communications with these individuals. Ex. 2, Dkt. #79-4 at 3. OCI responded with the name “Dr. David Baker.” Id. It stated that it is no longer in touch with Dr. Baker and has no location or contact information for him. Id. Plaintiff objects that this is internally contradictory. Dkt. #79 at 6. Defendants respond that they cannot be “compelled to provide information that [they] [do] not have.” Silva v. McKenna, No. C11-5629 RBL/KLS, 2012 WL 1596971, at *4 (W.D. Wash. May 7, 2012), and point out that plaintiff has already issued a subpoena to Dr. Baker to an address in Lynnwood, Washington. Ex. 1, Dkt. #83-1 at 1. However, they also note that, after they had responded to the interrogatories, defense counsel located Dr. Baker in order to respond to plaintiff's motion for leave to file his second amended complaint. Dkt. #83 at 3 n.1. It is not clear that the information regarding Dr. Baker's whereabouts “has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process, ” given that plaintiff has since served a subpoena on Dr. Baker. Fed R. Civ. P. 26(e). However, by way of abundant caution, the Court finds that OCI has a duty to supplement Interrogatory No. 2. Id. Plaintiff's motion to compel a response to Interrogatory No. 2 is GRANTED.

         b. Interr ...

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