United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
Paul Papak, United States Magistrate Judge
Government Employees Insurance Co. brings this action against
Defendants Leif s Auto Collision Centers, LLC and Leif
Hansen, asserting claims for intentional interference with
contractual relations, defamation, and declaratory relief.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have attempted to
intimidate, delay, and obstruct Plaintiffs insurance
adjusters from evaluating vehicles on Defendants'
January 11, 2018, 1 ruled on several of Plaintiff s discovery
requests that Defendants disputed. I now rule on several of
Defendants' discovery requests that Plaintiff disputes.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), "Parties may
obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is
relevant to any party's claim or defense."
"Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if
the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the
discovery of admissible evidence." Id. Courts
construe relevance "broadly to encompass any matter that
bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that
could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case."
Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351
(1978). The party seeking to compel discovery has the initial
burden of showing that its request meets the relevance
requirements of Rule 26(b)(1). Reece v. Basi, No.
2:11-cv-2712-TLN AC P, 2014 WL 2565986, at *2 (E.D. Cal. June
6, 2014). If the party seeking to compel discovery satisfies
its burden, or if relevance is clear from the request itself,
the party opposing discovery then must show that discovery
should not be allowed, and carries the "heavy burden of
clarifying, explaining, and supporting its objections."
Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d 418, 429 (9th
Cir. 1975); Lenard v. Sherwin-Williams Co., No.
2:13-cv-2548-KJM AC, 2015 WL 854752, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Feb.
Confidentiality Designations for Plaintiff's Employee
conducted an internal investigation into its employees'
experiences at Defendants' premises and created written
reports based on that investigation. Plaintiff then produced
the written reports and designated them as being for
"Attorneys' Eyes Only." Defendants now seek to
remove the Attorneys' Eyes Only designation from the
reports "so that [Defendants] may understand the
specifics of the allegations against them" and
Defendants' counsel may use the statements to prepare
witnesses for depositions.
responds that it "maintains workplace investigations-in
particular, employees' statements and participation in
those investigation[s]-as private and confidential, in order
to maintain the integrity and reliability of all internal
workplace investigations by providing employees with the
assurance that they may freely participate in workplace
investigations and make reports to Human Resources without
the fear that their statements will be disclosed and result
in retaliation, " Plaintiff states that privacy is
critical here because Defendants' employees have
allegedly threatened to retaliate against Plaintiffs
adjusters and their families.
conclude that Defendants' counsel may disclose these
statements to Defendants' witnesses to prepare for
depositions, Plaintiff created these statements as part of
its investigation into Defendants' behavior, so the
relevant information, and the source of the information, will
surely be disclosed during depositions regardless of whether
the statements are disclosed to Defendants before depositions
are taken. I caution that improper use of these statements by
Defendants or their employees may subject Defendants and
their counsel to sanctions.
ARX (Auto Repair Express) Documents
has a program called GEICO Auto Repair Xpress, or ARX, for
its dealings with repair shops. Defendants contend that ARX
documents are relevant to compare the costs of
Defendants' repairs against those of repair shops in the
ARX program, because Plaintiff alleges that Defendants charge
for delayed and unnecessary repairs at inflated prices.
Defendants state that Plaintiff should disclose agreements
with ARX shops in Oregon and Washington, documents showing
how the shops set repair procedures and rates, and documents
regarding alleged "re- repairs" required after
vehicles leave the ARX shops, Plaintiff responds that it
already has provided Defendants with documents in response to
Defendants' Requests for Production Nos. 97-98 and 100,
"which request documents concerning [Plaintiffs] ARX
program and customer scripts related to that program."
Plaintiff states that it has also provided documents
concerning rate settings and cost of repairs, although
Plaintiff does not consider the documents relevant. As to
Defendants' other document requests relating to ARX,
Plaintiff argues that Defendants are trying to muddy the
waters "by alleging things that are untrue or irrelevant
related to [Plaintiffs] interactions with other body shops in
Portland, hoping that a jury will ignore Defendants'
improper conduct." Plaintiff argues that the requested
ARX documents are not relevant to Plaintiffs claims, which
assert that "Defendants have engaged in abusive,
threatening, and defamatory conduct" to increase the
cost of repairs.
conclude that Plaintiff properly and sufficiently responded
to Defendants' request for ARX-related documents. The
additional documents Defendants seek regarding the contracts
between Plaintiff and third-party repair shops are not
relevant to Plaintiffs claims. I deny Defendants' request
that Plaintiff produce additional ARX-related documents.