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Hinostroza v. Denny's Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 29, 2018

DENNY'S INC., Defendants.

          ORDER (DOCKET NO. 16)


         Pending before the Court is Defendant Denny's Inc.'s motion to compel discovery. Docket No. 16. The Court has considered Defendant's motion, Plaintiff's response, and Defendant's reply. Docket Nos. 16, 18, 19. The Court finds the motion properly resolved without a hearing. See Local Rule 78-1. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's motion to compel discovery. Docket No. 16.

         I. Background

         The instant case alleges a slip and fall accident at Defendant's restaurant. Docket No. 1 at 15-20. In March 2018, Defendant requested various releases from Plaintiff to obtain documents regarding her employment, a prior car accident in 2015, and records from medical providers. See generally Docket Nos. 16-1 - 16-13. On March 21, 2018, Plaintiff provided some of the requested releases. Docket No. 16-9 at 3. In April 2018, the parties met and conferred three times regarding the outstanding releases, as well as Plaintiff's responses to Defendant's amended second set of requests for production of documents. Docket Nos. 16 at 4, 16-24. The parties were unable to resolve their discovery disputes. Docket No. 16 at 4-5. Defendant, therefore, filed the instant motion to compel the outstanding releases and responses to its requests for production numbers 23-30, 33, and 38. Id. at 5-6, 11-21.

         II. Standards

         A. Discovery

         “[B]road discretion is vested in the trial court to permit or deny discovery.” Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 598 (1998). Parties are entitled to discover non-privileged information that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and is proportional to the needs of the case, including consideration of the importance of the issues at stake in the action, 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). The most recent amendments to the discovery rules are meant to curb the culture of scorched earth litigation tactics by emphasizing the importance of ensuring that the discovery process “provide[s] parties with efficient access to what is needed to prove a claim or defense, but eliminate unnecessary or wasteful discovery.” Roberts v. Clark Cty. School Dist., 312 F.R.D. 594, 603-04 (D. Nev. 2016).

         B. Motion to Compel

         When a party fails to provide requested discovery, the requesting party may move to compel that discovery. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a). The burden is on the party resisting discovery to show why a discovery request should be denied by specifying in detail, as opposed to general and boilerplate objections, why “each request is irrelevant.” FTC v. AMG Servs., 291 F.R.D. 544, 553 (D. Nev. 2013) (internal citation omitted) (emphasis added). This requires the party resisting discovery to show for each request, irregardless of numerosity, how each of its objections is applicable, by providing the relevant standard for each objection and a meaningfully developed argument as to how the standard has been met. See Green v. Baca, 226 F.R.D. 624, 653 (C.D. Cal. 2005) (rejecting blanket claims of privilege as sufficient to address the applicable standard); see also Kor Media Group, LLC v. Green, 294 F.R.D. 579, 582 n.3 (D. Nev. 2013) (courts only address arguments that are meaningfully developed).

         III. Analysis

         Defendant asks the Court to compel Plaintiff to comply with numerous requests for production that it propounded upon Plaintiff.[1] The Court considers each category of requests in turn.

         A. Request for Production Number 29 and Related Releases

Please produce copies of any and all documents related to the 2015 car accident you identified in your response to Defendant's Interrogatory No. 18, including, but not limited to, police report[s], medical records, property damage records and photographs, insurance policies/claim notes, including claim numbers and insurance carrier names, as well as the owners of the policy of insurance. If you are not in possession of these documents, please provide the contact information for the carriers and execute the attached release Exhibit “A.”

         Docket No. 16-24 at 8. Plaintiff objected to this request on the grounds that it is irrelevant, overbroad, and unduly burdensome. Id.

         Defendant submits that Plaintiff disclosed that she was in a car accident in 2015 and, although she denies sustaining any injuries or receiving treatment, it “should be entitled to verify this information” through an accident report, medical records, or the adverse insurance carrier. Docket No. 16 at 11-12; see also Docket No. 16-15 at 15. Defendant further submits that information from the adverse insurance carrier is relevant “[because] it contains the property damage from the prior accident and [it will] confirm whether or not Plaintiff [was] indeed treated as a result of the 2015 accident.” Docket No. 16 at 12. Lastly, Defendant asks the Court to compel information regarding two slip and fall accidents in 2012, for which Plaintiff was treated by Dr. David Worman, an orthopedist, and a 2015 visit to a neurologist, whose name Plaintiff has not provided. Id. at 7, 12.

         In response, Plaintiff submits that she was not injured in the 2015 car accident and did not seek treatment. Docket No. 18 at 8. Plaintiff further submits that Defendant's “only basis for seeking [the] insurance file is Defendant's assumption that Plaintiff is lying.” Id. (emphasis in original). In reply, Defendant submits that Plaintiff fails to address “why she had a CT [b]rain scan in 2015.” Docket No. 19 at 5. Defendant further submits that the requested information is relevant because the prior accidents may or may not have “contributed to Plaintiff's alleged injuries in the subject litigation.” Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges multiple injuries and physical impairments, as well as future lumbar surgery, due to her alleged accident at Defendant's restaurant. Docket Nos. 1 at 17-19, 16-18 at 35-37. Plaintiff's discovery responses indicate that, due to two slip and fall accidents in 2012, she was referred to Dr. Worman, an orthopedist. Docket Nos. 16 at 7, 16-16 at 5-8. Plaintiff has not, however, produced any medical records related to these incidents or to her treatment with Dr. Worman. Id. Plaintiff has also failed to produce medical records related to a 2015 neurologist visit and CT scan, as well as information substantiating her claim that she was not injured in the 2015 car accident. Docket Nos. 16 at 7, 16-16 at 2-4.

         Medical records of injuries prior to an alleged accident are relevant to the issue of whether the injuries existed at the time of the accident and whether the accident caused or aggravated the injuries. See Adele v. Dunn, 2012 WL 5420256, at *2 (D. Nev. Nov. 5, 2012) (compelling the identity of the plaintiff's health care providers, as well as medical records of other accidents, from ten years prior to the accident at issue, despite the plaintiff's opposition that he had not been injured in the past ten years and that medical records of other accidents do not exist, because the “[d]efendant is entitled to reasonable discovery to determine whether [the plaintiff] suffered from any pre-existing condition contributing to the injuries at issue in this case”); see also Martin v. Collier, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1411, at *6 (D. Nev. Jan. 4, 2012) (“Certainly in the interest of justice the defendant in ...

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