United States District Court, D. Nevada
before the court is plaintiffs Eagle Air Med Corporation
(“Eagle Air Med”) and Valley Med Flight
Inc.'s (“Valley Med”) (collectively
“plaintiffs”) objection to Magistrate Judge Peggy
A. Leen's orders. (ECF No. 19). Defendants Sentinel Air
Medical Alliance and Jeffrey Frazier (collectively
“defendants”) did not file a response and the
time to do so has passed.
a miscellaneous action that is related to litigation in Utah
in which plaintiffs allege that defendants made false and
defamatory statements about plaintiffs' air ambulance
services. (ECF No. 19). In brief terms, defendants allegedly
told plaintiffs' customers that plaintiffs charges were
“egregious” “in comparison to charges by
other providers.” Id.
the course of discovery, plaintiffs learned that
defendants' statements were based on rate quotes
defendants obtained from competing providers or from Milan
Floribus at AC Global Medical Transports (“AC
Global”). Id. To prove that the statements
were false, which is an element of plaintiffs' claims,
plaintiffs deposed AC Global. Id. Floribus
voluntarily appeared for the deposition but refused to
provide the identities of the air ambulance providers from
whom he obtained rate quotes. Id.
then initiated this miscellaneous action and file a motion to
compel further deposition testimony from AC Global regarding
its sources for rate quotes. Id. The magistrate
judge denied plaintiffs' motion, holding that
plaintiffs' requested discovery was not relevant and
proportional to the Utah litigation. Id. Plaintiffs
filed a motion for reconsideration, which the magistrate
judge also denied. Id. Now, plaintiffs have objected
to the magistrate judge's orders and request the court to
grant the discovery that plaintiffs seek. Id.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a), aggrieved parties may
file objections to the rulings of a magistrate judge in
non-dispositive matters. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). For a party to
prevail on an objection pursuant to Rule 72(a) the movant
must show that “the magistrate judge's order is
clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” LR IB 3-1(a); 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Under this standard, courts
review factual determinations for clear error and legal
conclusions de novo. United States v.
McConney, 728 F.2d 1195, 1200-1201 (9th Cir. 1984)
(overruled on other grounds by Estate of Merchant v.
CIR, 947 F.2d 1390 (9th Cir. 1991)
magistrate judge denied plaintiffs' motion to compel on
three grounds: (1) the discovery was not relevant and
proportional; (2) the motion was incomplete or otherwise
deficient; and (3) the court does not have personal
jurisdiction over Floribus and AC Global. (ECF No. 10). The
court addresses each in turn.
Relevance and proportionality
may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged 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). “[T]he scope of permissible discovery under
Rule 26 is ‘broad.'” Republic of Ecuador
v. Mackay, 742 F.3d 860, 866 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Shoen v. Shoen, 5 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1993)).
“Information within this scope of discovery need not be
admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “A party or any person from whom
discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the
court” on the grounds of “annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or under burden or expense.”
discovery that plaintiffs seek is relevant because they are
inquiring about an essential element of their claims for
defamation, false light, and tortious interference-the
falsity of defendants' and AC Global's statements
regarding plaintiffs' charges for air ambulance services.
See (ECF No. 19). Deposing AC Global and Floribus is
also proportionate to the needs of the case because AC Global
has admitted that it did not retain any documents pertaining
to the truth of its statements. Id. Moreover, the
cost of the proposed discovery is de minimis because
plaintiffs are willing to travel to a convenient location
within a few miles of Floribus' home. Id.
Motion was incomplete or otherwise deficient
magistrate judge held that the plaintiffs' motion was
deficient on two grounds: (1) plaintiffs did not properly
support their motion with points and authorities and (2)
plaintiffs did not properly serve a deposition notice and
subpoena on AC Global. (ECF No. 10). A cursory review of the
motion shows that the magistrate judge's findings were
clearly erroneous. ...