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Brees v. HMS Global Maritime Inc.

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

July 8, 2019

RICHARD BREES, Plaintiff,
v.
HMS GLOBAL MARITIME INC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL AND MOTION FOR EXTENSION AND ASSISTANCE

          ROBERT J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Dkt. 38) and Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Pretrial Cutoff Dates, Trial Date, and Court Assistance with Proceedural [sic] Isses [sic] Regarding Pierce County and County Employees Named in the Plaintiffs [sic] Amended Complaint (“Motion for Extension and Assistance”) (Dkt. 42). The Court has reviewed the motions and documents filed in support and opposition thereto, and it is fully advised.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court should deny Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Dkt. 38), and grant, in part, and deny, in part, Plaintiff's Motion for Extension and Assistance (Dkt. 42).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 12, 2018, Plaintiff Richard Brees apparently filed a claim with Defendant Pierce County for damages related to an alleged unlawful search conducted by ferry personnel while Plaintiff attempted to board the ferry in his vehicle. Pierce County contracts with Defendant HMS Ferries, Inc. (“HMS”) to operate Pierce County's ferry system. Dkt. 46, at 2. Defendant Tiffany Garcia (“Ms. Garcia”) investigated the claim. Dkts. 35-1; and 46, at 2. As part of the investigation, Ms. Garcia interviewed Defendant Steve Caputo, HMS Ferries General Manager. Dkt. 46, at 2. Ms. Garcia prepared a confidential report (“Report”) that summarized her findings and recommendations for legal review. Dkts. 46; and 23. On July 6, 2018, Pierce County denied Plaintiff's claim. Dkt. 46, at 2.

         On August 22, 2018, Plaintiff Richard Brees, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint with this Court, apparently describing the lawsuit as a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against HMS Ferries, Inc., HMS Global Maritime, Inc., and Steve Caputo. Dkt. 1-1. On October 30, 2018, Ms. Garcia emailed a copy of the Report to HMS Global Maritime, Inc.'s associate counsel, Justin Walker. Dkt. 46, at 2. On April 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint naming eight additional defendants, including Pierce County and Ms. Garcia. Dkt. 35-1.

         On May 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Compel seeking to obtain the Report.[1] Dkt. 38. Defendants HMS Global Maritime Inc., HMS Ferries, Inc., Steve Caputo, Mylinda Miller, Dominich De Lango, Thomas Ripa, Captain Tara Reynolds, and Derick F. Leenstra (collectively “HMS Defendants”) filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. Dkt. 46. Plaintiff filed a reply in support of his Motion to Compel. Dkt. 60.

         On June 6, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Extension and Assistance, in which Plaintiff requests extended pretrial deadlines and court assistance pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3). Dkt. 42. HMS Defendants filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's motion to extend pretrial deadlines. Dkt. 49. Plaintiff responded in support of the instant Motion for Extension and Assistance. Dkt. 59.

         Below, the Court first discusses Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Dkt. 38). Second, the Court discusses Plaintiff's Motion for Extension and Assistance (Dkt. 42).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. MOTION TO COMPEL

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (b)(1).

         Plaintiff moves for the Court to compel production of the Report. Dkt. 38. HMS Defendants oppose production on two grounds: first, Plaintiff failed to comply with meet and confer requirements as a prerequisite to a motion to compel; and, second, the Report is protected from disclosure under the work-product doctrine. Dkt. 46.

         1. Meet and Confer Prerequisite

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide:

On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1)

         Similarly, the Local Court Rules provide:

Any motion for an order compelling disclosure or discovery must include a certification, in the motion or in a declaration of affidavit, that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to made disclosure or discovery in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action. The certification must list the date, manner, and participants to the conference. If the movant fails to include such a certification, the court may deny the motion without addressing the merits of the dispute. A good faith effort to confer with a party or person not making a disclosure or discovery requires a face-to-face meeting or a telephone conference. If the court finds that counsel for any party, or a party proceeding pro se, willfully refused to confer, failed to confer in good faith, or failed to respond on a timely basis to a request to confer, the court may take action as stated in CR 11 of these rules.

LCR 37(a)(1).

         The Parties disagree about Plaintiff's satisfaction of the meet and confer requirements concerning a conference on May 15, 2019. Plaintiff certifies that he met with HMS Defendants' counsel, Charles Jordan and Michelle Buhler, at a meet and confer conference, but that HMS Defendants' counsel refused to discuss producing the Report and “refused further discussions or to schedule a time more appropriate.” Dkt. 38, at 2. Additionally, ...


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