United States District Court, D. Nevada
WAYNE C. GOODRICH, Plaintiff,
GARRISON PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY d\b\a USAA, Defendant.
MIRANDA M. DU CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter stems from an insurance coverage dispute. Defendant
Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company
(“Garrison”) has filed an objection to Magistrate
Judge Carla L. Baldwin's order denying Garrison's
motion for protective order (ECF Nos. 40, 51) in part and
granting it in part (“Objection”). (ECF No. 53.)
The underlying motion for protective order challenged 18
deposition topics Plaintiff Wayne C. Goodrich seeks to
pursue. (See generally ECF No. 40; ECF No. 40-1 at
1-6.) Garrison instantly objects to Judge Baldwin's
rulings on topics 1-6, 10-12, 13, 16 and 17. (ECF No. 53 at
6-12.) The Court overrules Garrison's
reviewing a magistrate judge's non-dispositive pretrial
order, the magistrate's factual determinations are
reviewed for clear error. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a).
“A finding is clearly erroneous when although there is
evidence to support it, the reviewing body on the entire
evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been committed.” United States v.
Ressam, 593 F.3d 1095, 1118 (9th Cir. 2010) (quotation
omitted). A magistrate judge's pretrial order issued
under § 636(b)(1)(A) is not subject to de novo review,
and the reviewing court “may not simply substitute its
judgment for that of the deciding court.” Grimes v.
City & County of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 241
(9th Cir. 1991). Applying this standard, the Court finds
Judge Baldwin did not clearly err in rendering her decisions
on the noted topics.
essentially raises the same objection to Judge Baldwin's
ruling on topics 1-6, 10-12 and 16—not challenging the
topics as irrelevant but claiming that, as to these topics,
Goodrich need not depose a Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6)
witness—to be produced by Garrison. (ECF No. 53.)
Garrison specifically argues that allowing Goodrich to depose
such a witness in addition to two percipient witnesses would
be duplicative and not proportional in light of the
allegations and issues presented by this case and is counter
to the 2015 amendments to Rule 26(b). (E.g., id.
minimum, Garrison's proportionality objections as couched
in the 2015 amendments are vague and lacks specificity.
See, e.g., Carr v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 312 F.R.D. 459, 468 (N.D. Tex. 2015) (“[T]he
amendments to Rule 26(b) and Rule 26(c)(1) do not alter the
basic allocation of the burden on the party resisting
discovery to - in order to prevail on a motion for protective
order or successfully resist a motion to compel -
specifically object and show that the requested discovery
does not fall within Rule”). The proportionality
contentions are also contrary to law—to the extent
Garrison seeks to preclude testimony by a Rule 30(b)(6)
deponent. See, e.g., Int'l Game Tech. v.
Illinois Nat'l Ins. Co., No. 2:16-cv -02792-APG-NJK,
2017 WL 5505039, at *6-7 (D. Nev. Nov. 16, 2017)
(“[C]ourts have rejected the argument that a Rule
30(b)(6) deposition and a percipient witness deposition are
unnecessary or cumulative of one another based simply on the
similarity of topics covered.”); Kelly v. Provident
Life & Acc. Ins. Co., No. 04CV807-AJB BGS, 2011 WL
2448276, at *4 (S.D. Cal. June 20, 2011) (internal quotations
and citations omitted) (“Plaintiff is entitled to the
knowledge of the corporation and the corporation's
positions on matters clearly relevant and discoverable in
this phase of the case . . . Without having a witness or
witnesses who can testify and bind the corporation, the
deposing party is left at an unfair disadvantage, having no
understanding of what the corporation's position is as to
many areas of inquiry.”).Garrison's position otherwise
provides no basis for the Court to conclude that Judge
Baldwin clearly erred in permitting the requested depositions
on the above topics. The Court will therefore overrule
Garrison's objection as to deposition topics 1-6, 10-12
leaves Judge Baldwin's rulings on topics 13 and 17, which
the Court finds are likewise void of error. As to these
topics, Garrison's contestation is again largely that it
should not have to produce a Rule 30(b)(6) deponent on these
topics. (ECF No. 53 at 9-11.) Besides Garrison's
unsupportable and curious insistence, Garrison claims that
topic 13 amounts to a fishing expedition. (Id. at
9.) The Court disagrees.
13 specifically states:
In the five years of time prior to Plaintiff's claim, the
frequency with which Garrison paid Crawford and Company to
inspect and report on the property of Garrison's insureds
for the purpose of processing Nevada property claims.
(ECF No. 40-1 at 4.) Judge Baldwin concluded that the topic
went to Goodrich's contention of bad faith. (See
ECF No. 52 (Transcript) at 11.) The Court is unpersuaded by
Garrison's logic in attempting to undermine Judge
Baldwin's conclusion. (See ECF No. 53 at 9.)
Instead, the Court agrees with Goodrich that topic 13
supports his contention that Garrison acted in bad faith in
relying on its hired-inspector's findings where Garrison
knew of a different cause of the relevant damage—yet
denied Goodrich's insurance claim on an improper basis.
(ECF No. 54 at 13-14.)
objection to topic 17 is no more appealing. That topic
concerns bonus compensation (ECF No. 40-1 at 5) and Judge
Baldwin's order recognized Goodrich's concession to
have the topic address only such compensation to
“claims handlers and employees” (ECF No. 51 at
1). As to this topic, Garrison rehashes its averments made in
the underlying motion explaining bonus compensation, ignores
the conceded limitations to the request—to nonetheless
state the request is overbroad, and claims that a Rule
30(b)(6) deponent is not needed where Garrison may respond in
a verified interrogatory. (ECF No. 53 at 10.) To the extent
Garrison's contentions are not moot, they provide
insufficient reasons to alter Judge Baldwin's
determination regarding the need to obtain testimony from
Garrison's Rule 30(b)(6) deponent. See, e.g., Colony
Ins. Co. v. Sanchez, No. 2:18-cv-01950-JCM-NJK, 2019 WL
3241160, at *2-*3 (D. Nev. July 18, 2019) (collecting cases)
(internal citations omitted) (“It has long been clear
that written discovery and depositions are not equivalent
forms of discovery that may be easily substituted for one
another. Written discovery responses are drafted through calm
reflection with the aid of attorneys, while depositions probe
the facts while witnesses are under the scrutiny of
examination.”); Kelly, 2011 WL 2448276, at *4
(“[A]ny testimony provided by employees as individuals
does not satisfy the need for Plaintiff to obtain binding
testimony from the corporate entity.”).
the Court finds Garrison's various objections
insufficient to undermine Judge Baldwin's rulings
regarding the objected to topics.
therefore ordered that Garrison's Objection (ECF No. 53)
is overruled. The parties may proceed with discovery as set
forth by Judge Baldwin.