N.D. Cal.: Requests can't be 'relating to', but objections must still be stated

N.D. Cal.: Requests can't be 'relating to', but objections must still be stated

April 27, 2018

Yesterday, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued an order in Moore v. Pflug Packaging & Fulfillment, No. 17-cv-05823-YGR, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69941 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 25, 2018) granting in part the plaintiff's request to compel the defendant to amend its responses to disclose whether documents have been withheld on the basis of objections.    Rule 34(b)2)(C), states that an "objection must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection.".    The defendant contended that the use of the phrase, 'relating to', in the request made them unduly vague.

 

The court held that, "In light of Rule 26's proportionality requirement, the Court recognizes that parties should avoid using broad terms such as "RELATING TO" in discovery requests and in this regard, finds plaintiff's requests deficient." Id. at *4.    However the order also states that, "[d]espite a valid objection made on the basis that a request is facially vague, ambiguous, and overbroad, or any other basis for that matter, a responding party still 'must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection.'"  Id. at 5.   In particular Judge Rogers faulted a response which states the defendant was withholding draft manuals and handbooks on the basis of attorney-client privilege and as work product because the objection doesn't indicate if the final version of such documents are withheld.    A response indicating that monthly statements in the date range between January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2017 would be produced was defective when made to a request for monthly statements from January 1, 2012 to the present.   

 

Judge Rogers concluded that, "Despite a valid objection made on the basis that a request is facially vague, ambiguous, and overbroad, or any other basis for that matter, a responding party still 'must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection.'"  Id. at 7. 

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