In re: Williams-Sonoma, Inc.; Williams-Sonoma Advertising, Inc.;
United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco, Respondent, Williams-Sonoma DTC, Inc., Williams-Sonoma, Inc., a Delaware corporation, DBA Pottery Barn, DBA Williams-Sonoma, DBA Williams-Sonoma Home; Williams-Sonoma Advertising, Inc., a California corporation; Williams-Sonoma DTC, Inc., a California corporation, Petitioners, William Rushing, Individually and on Behalf of all Others Similarly Situated, Real Party in Interest.
and Submitted October 2, 2019 San Francisco, California
from the United States District Court No. 3:16-cv-01421-WHO
for the Northern District of California William Horsley
Orrick, District Judge, Presiding
Craig Cardon (argued), Robert J. Guite, and Benjamin O.
Aigboboh, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, San
Francisco, California, for Petitioners.
Kathryn Honecker (argued) and Jonathan Udell, Rose Law Group,
PC, Scottsdale, Arizona; Amber L. Eck and Robert D. Prine,
Haeggquist & Eck, LLP, San Diego, California; George
Richard Baker, Baker Law, PC, Los Angeles, California; for
Real Party in Interest.
appearance for Respondent.
Timothy G. Blood and Paula R. Brown, Blood Hurst &
O'Reardon, LLP, San Diego, California, for Amicus Curiae
Consumer Attorneys of California.
Before: Ferdinand F. Fernandez and Richard A. Paez, Circuit
Judges, and Jennifer Choe-Groves, [*] Judge.
Mandamus / Discovery
panel granted Williams-Sonoma Advertising, Inc.'s
petition for a writ of mandamus, and ordered the district
court to vacate a pre-class-certification discovery order
that directed Williams-Sonoma to produce a list of California
customers who had purchased certain bedding products.
Rushing brought an underlying action against Williams-Sonoma
to recover damages that he allegedly suffered due to
Williams-Sonoma's alleged misrepresentations about thread
count on bedding he purchased. Before a class action was
certified, the district court determined that Kentucky law
governed Rushing's claim and that Kentucky consumer law
prohibited class actions. The district court granted
Rushing's request to obtain discovery from
Williams-Sonoma for the purpose of aiding his counsel's
attempt to find a California customer who purchased similar
determining whether to issue mandamus relief, the panel
applied the Bauman v. U.S. Dist. Court, 557 F.2d
650, 656-661 (9th Cir. 1977), factors. The panel held that
Supreme Court authority demonstrated clear error in the
district court's decision. The panel held that the
Supreme Court has determined that seeking discovery of the
name of a class member (here an unknown person, who could sue
Williams-Sonoma) was not relevant within the meaning of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), which limits the scope of discovery.
Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 353
(1978). The panel concluded that the district court clearly
erred as a matter of law when it ordered the discovery in
question, and the balance of factors weighed in favor of
granting the writ of mandamus.
Paez dissented because in his view the district court had not
erred, let alone committed the clear error required for the
extraordinary remedy of mandamus relief.
FERNANDEZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Inc., Williams-Sonoma DTC, Inc., and Williams-Sonoma
Advertising, Inc. (collectively "Williams-Sonoma")
petition for a writ of mandamus ordering the district court to
vacate a pre-class-certification discovery order that
directed Williams-Sonoma to produce a list of California
customers who had purchased certain bedding products. The
purpose of the discovery was to enable opposing counsel to
find a lead plaintiff to pursue a class action against
Williams-Sonoma under California law. We grant the petition.
Rushing, a resident and citizen of the State of Kentucky,
allegedly purchased bedding from Williams-Sonoma, and an
important reason for his doing so was based upon the
advertised thread count. Williams-Sonoma said that the thread
count was 600 threads per square inch, but Rushing allegedly
later discovered that it was actually much lower than that.
Thus, he brought an action against Williams-Sonoma to recover
damages under the law of the State of California that he
allegedly suffered due to Williams-Sonoma's alleged
misrepresentations. He also sought damages under California
law for a class of consumers who bought bedding from
Williams-Sonoma due to the selfsame alleged
a class action was certified,  the district court determined,
inter alia, that Kentucky law governed Rushing's
claims and that Kentucky consumer law prohibited class
actions. Rushing gave notice that he would pursue his
personal claims under Kentucky law, but sought to obtain
discovery from Williams-Sonoma for the sole purpose
of aiding his counsel's attempt to find a California
purchaser of bedding from Williams-Sonoma who might be
willing to sue. The district court obliged, and to that end
ordered Williams-Sonoma to produce a list of all California
customers who purchased bedding products of the type referred
to in Rushing's complaint since January 29, 2012.
Williams-Sonoma's request for leave to file a motion for
reconsideration was denied; this petition followed.
seeks a writ of mandamus to avoid the strictures of the
district court's discovery order. In deciding whether to
issue a writ of mandamus we apply the Bauman
factors, which we have described as follows:
(1) The party seeking the writ has no other adequate means,
such as a direct appeal, to attain the relief ...