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Christopher v. Ford Motor Company, Inc

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

August 22, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Carrea Christopher's “Motion to Compel Discovery Responses.” Dkt. #84.


         This case arises out of an accident that took place while plaintiff was driving a 2006 Ford Ranger (“the Vehicle”) in San Diego, California. Plaintiff alleges that a truck backed into his stationary vehicle at 47th and Imperial. Dkt. #65 at ¶ 55. The airbag of the Ford “then exploded with such force [that] plaintiff went unconscious.” Id. Plaintiff claims that “excessive internal pressure cause[d] the inflator [of the air bag] to rupture.” Id. at ¶ 6. He discovered days later that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) had issued a recall for the air bag and inflator. Id. at ¶ 28. He brings two causes of action against Ford for Fraudulent Concealment or Nondisclosure, id. at ¶¶ 61-70, and violations of Washington's Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), id. at ¶¶ 71-76.

         On October 25, 2018, plaintiff served a set of discovery requests on Ford. Dkt. #88 (Macintyre Decl.) at ¶ 3. Plaintiff granted a two-week extension for Ford's responses on November 26, 2018. Id. at ¶ 4. Ford served its responses on December 10, 2018. Id. at 5; see Ex. C, Dkt. #88 at 14-33. Following further communications between the parties, Ford produced the documents identified or referred to in its discovery responses on February 6, 2019. Macintyre Decl. at ¶¶ 7-13; see Ex. G, Dkt. #88 at 46.

         Defense counsel and plaintiff spoke over the phone on February 13, 2019. Plaintiff asked why Ford had not produced information regarding its advertising spending in response to one of his interrogatories. Defense counsel explained Ford's objection, and plaintiff moved on to another topic of discussion. Macintyre Decl. at ¶ 15. According to defense counsel, they did not discuss the remainder of plaintiff's concerns with Ford's discovery responses. Id. Plaintiff then filed his motion to compel on May 1, 2019. It pertains to Interrogatories Nos. 2, 3, 5-9, 12 and 13, and Requests for Production (“RFP”) 1-5.


         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 a discovery request, 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. “Meet and Confer” Requirement and Length

         Preliminarily, “[a]ny motion for an order compelling disclosure or discovery must include a certification, in the motion or in a declaration or affidavit, 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 resolve the dispute without court action.” LCR 37(a)(1). Plaintiff's motion does not contain this certification.[1] See generally Dkt. #84. Plaintiff's motion is also overlength. See LCR 7(e). Regardless, the Court will consider the merits of plaintiff's motion.

         C. Interrogatories Nos. 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13

          Interrogatory No. 2 requests Ford to “state [its] argument against the Federal Government Recall (NHTSA) National Highway Safety Transportation Agency … of the 2006 Ford Ranger Defaults.” Ex. C, Dkt. #88 at 21. Ford indicated that it did not have an argument “for or against” the recall, but referred plaintiff to its response to NHTSA General Order PE14-016. Id. The documents referred to were produced on February 6, 2019. Ex. H, Dkt. #88 at 48; see Ex. G, Dkt. #88 at 46. Ford also objected to the interrogatory inter alia because it requested information on recalls unrelated to the driver's front airbag.[2] Ex. C, Dkt. #88 at 21.

         Interrogatory No. 3 asks Ford if it is responsible for the “making, creation, manufacturing and the assembly of [the] Ford 2004-2007 Ranger.” Ex. C, Dkt. #88 at 22. Ford responded with details of its role in the design, manufacturing and assembly of the Vehicle, including the one that plaintiff was driving when the accident occurred, and offered to produce additional documentation. Id. ...

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