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Opico v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc.

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

July 12, 2019



          Robert S. Lasnik, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Jose Montes Opico's “Motion to Compel Discovery Responses.” Dkt. #16. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


         Plaintiff alleges that defendant Convergent Outsourcing, Inc. unlawfully attempted to collect on a debt that he did not owe to T-Mobile. On January 31, 2019, plaintiff served discovery requests on defendant. Dkt. #16-1 (Anderson Decl. at ¶ 2). Defendant responded to plaintiff's interrogatories on March 1, 2019. Ex. E, Dkt. #16-1 at 70-79. Plaintiff's counsel raised concerns with defendant's responses in a letter dated March 6, 2019. Id. at ¶ 3; see Ex. A, Dkt. #16-1 at 5-8. The parties conducted a Rule 26 conference on March 27, 2019. Id. at ¶ 4.

         Eventually, on April 3, 2019, defendant produced 28 pages of documents in response to plaintiff's Requests for Production. Id. at ¶ 7; see Ex. D, Dkt. #16-1 at 18-56. These contained redactions. On April 10, 2019, plaintiff's counsel detailed in another letter his remaining concerns with the discovery requests. The parties conducted a second Rule 26 conference on April 15, 2019. Id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff filed this motion on April 24, 2019. Dkt. #16. In it, plaintiff appears to object to all of defendant's responses to the Requests for Production (“RFP”) and nine of its responses to the Interrogatories. Dkt. #16 at 9.


         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 or produce documents, 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)).

         B. Requests for Production

         Plaintiff served fifteen RFPs on defendant. Plaintiff is correct in that many of defendant's objections are improper. Benis v. Reliance Standard Health Ins. Co., No. 18-CV-164-RAJ, 2019 WL 1056401, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 6, 2019) (“Defendant's responses to each of Plaintiff's Interrogatories and Requests for Production are largely identical, and largely boilerplate.”). The Court also notes, however, that plaintiff has not indicated which of defendant's responses he objects to, and why, beyond providing some examples. Dkt. #16 at 9; see Munoz-Munoz v. Locke, No. C10-1475-JCC, 2012 WL 12925012, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 5, 2012) (“The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating why an objection properly raised to a discovery request is deficient … Plaintiff bears the burden of informing the Court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel and, for each disputed response, why Defendant's objection is not justified. Plaintiff may not simply assert that he has served discovery requests, that he is dissatisfied, and that he wants an order compelling further responses.”) (quoting Williams v. Cate, No. C09-0468, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143862, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 14, 2011)). Regardless, the Court will deal with each request on the briefing as it stands.[1]

         In response to RFPs 1, 2, 9, 11, and 12, defendant responded that, without waiving its objections, it would “produce relevant and non-privileged documents responsive to this Request, and to the extent they exist and are in the custody, possession and control of [d]efendant.” Ex. D, Dkt. #16-1 at 20, 23, 24. Defendant claims in its opposition to have already produced documents that are responsive to these RFPs. Dkt. #17 at 7. The Court hereby DIRECTS defendant to set out which documents correspond to each RFP, and to supplement its responses if necessary. Fed R. Civ. P. 26(e); see Litle & Co. v. Mann, 145 F.3d 1339 (9th Cir. 1998).

         Regarding the redactions, defendant argues that they are necessary to “protect personally identifying information on the account.” Dkt. #17 at 6. As plaintiff claims the account is not his, the information might belong to an unrelated third party. Defendant also left the telephone numbers and the last four digits of social security numbers unredacted so that plaintiff could determine if any of the information related to him. Id.; see Ex. D, Dkt. #16-1 at 33-56. The Court has in the past found unilateral redactions improper. Krausz Indus., Ltd v. Romac Indus., Inc., No. C10-1204RSL, 2011 WL 13100750, at *3 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 10, 2011). However, in Krausz Indus., there was a protective order in place to govern confidential information, and the redactions were on the basis of irrelevance or non-responsiveness. Id. Here, the parties have been unable to agree to a stipulated protective order, [2] and the redactions pertain to confidential third-party information. Defendant need not remove its redactions. Doe v. Trump, 329 F.R.D. 262, 276 (W.D. Wash. 2018) (“Unilateral redactions are inappropriate if they seek not to protect sensitive or protected information, but merely to keep non-responsive information out of an adversary's hands.”) (quoting United States v. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., No. CV 13-0779-DOC JCGX, 2014 WL 8662657, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2014)) (internal alterations omitted). Moreover, plaintiff does not explain how the redactions prejudice him. Munoz-Munoz, 2012 WL 12925012 at *1. He already has access to “basic documents concerning the collection attempts and the propriety of those collection attempts.” Dkt. #16 at 8. The social security numbers and telephone numbers of plaintiff or any third parties do not appear to be relevant.

         In response to RFPs 3, 4, and 5 defendant lists a slew of objections. Ex. D, Dkt. #16-1 at 20-22. However, it fails to “clarify[], explain[], [or] support[] its objections.” Brown, 2015 WL 630926 at *1. They do not suffice. See Shalabi v. Atl. Richfield Co., No. C11-505 BHS, 2012 WL 3727334, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 28, 2012). Plaintiff's requests are proportional. The Court hereby DIRECTS defendant to respond to RFPs 3, 4, and 5.

         In response to RFPs 6, 8, and 10, defendant states that it is not in possession of any responsive documents. Ex. D, Dkt. #16-1 at 22-23. Defendant cannot be “compelled to provide information that [it] does not have.” Silva v. McKenna, No. C11-5629 RBL/KLS, 2012 WL 1596971, at *4 (W.D. Wash. May 7, 2012); see also Munoz-Munoz, ...

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