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Pitkin v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

March 13, 2018

RUSSELL PITKIN and MARY PITKIN, co-personal representatives of the Estate of MAD ALINE PITKIN, deceased, Plaintiffs,
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., a Delaware Corporation; CORIZON HEALTH, INC., a Tennessee Corporation; WASHINGTON COUNTY, a governmental body in the State of Oregon; JOSEPH MCCARTHY, MD, an individual; COLIN STORZ, an individual; LESLIE ONEIL, an individual; CJ BUCHANAN, an individual; LOUISA DURU, an individual; MOLLY JOHNSON, an individual; COURTNEY NYMAN, an individual; PAT GARRETT, in his capacity as Sheriff for Washington County; JOHN DOES 1-10; and JANE DOES 1-10, Defendants,


          Ann Aiken United States District Judge

         This dispute stems from the death of Madaline Pitkin, which occurred while she was in custody at Washington County Jail. At the time of Ms. Pitkin's death, defendant Corizon Health, Inc. ("Corizon") was a contractor for Washington County, providing inmate health services in the jail. Before me is a discovery dispute, in which plaintiffs (Ms. Pitkin's parents and personal representatives of Ms. Pitkin's estate) seek an extension of the discovery deadlines and leave to take additional depositions. Corizon opposes both motions. The parties disagree on the applicable legal standard under which courts may grant leave to take additional depositions, the relevance of the depositions sought by plaintiffs, and whether an extension of discovery is warranted, For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' Motion to Extend Discovery is granted, and plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Take Additional Depositions is granted in part and denied in part.


         On November 30, 2016, plaintiffs filed suit against defendant Corizon and others, claiming violations of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; plaintiffs also assert common law claims of wrongful death, negligence, and gross negligence. Discovery in this case commenced in January 2017, and plaintiffs began taking depositions in April 2017. In response to the complexity of this case and the resulting scope of discovery, the parties filed a joint motion for an extension of the discovery deadline in September 2017. I granted the parties' request and established a new deadline of December 15, 2017. Notably, defendants at that time sought to extend discovery beyond the December 15 deadline.

         Since April 2017, plaintiffs conducted more than forty depositions, including corporate depositions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6). Plaintiffs also served two requests for production of documents fewer than thirty days before the close of discovery, on November 21, 2017, and December 6, 2017, respectively. Corizon objected to those requests on timeliness grounds, Then, on December 8, 2017, plaintiffs filed the instant motions to extend discovery and conduct additional depositions.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a) establishes a presumptive limit often depositions per party. To exceed this limit, a party must obtain a stipulation from the opposing party or leave of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(a)(2)(A)(i). The rule directs the court to follow the standards set forth in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) and 26(b)(2) in determining whether to grant such leave. Fed. R, Civ. P. 30(a)(2). Importantly, Rule 30 lists no other standard - apart from those principles enumerated in Rule 26 - governing requests for additional depositions. See id.

         Rule 26(b) establishes a broad scope of discovery, permitting parties to "obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged 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). Specifically, the rule requires the court, in making discovery rulings, to consider "the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Id. Further, the court must limit discovery if the discovery sought is "unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i).

         In sum, the party seeking leave of the court to conduct additional depositions under Rule 30 bears the burden of showing sufficient reasons, consistent with the principles set forth in Rule 26(b)(1) and (2), to justify an extension of the presumptive limit.


         I. A Particularized Showing of Necessity is Not Required Under Rule 30(a)(2).

         Plaintiffs argue that their request to take five additional depositions is justified under the standards established under Rule 26. Specifically, plaintiffs assert that the following applies to each of the depositions sought: 1) they are relevant to the claims; 2) the information sought is not unreasonably cumulative or duplicative; and 3) Corizon cannot establish that the burden imposed outweighs the benefit to plaintiff. In response, Corizon argues that plaintiffs' request should be denied because they fail to "make a particularized showing of why the discovery is necessary" Defs.' Pl.s.' Mot. for Add'l Dep. 4 (quoting Archer Daniels Midland Co. v. Aon Risk Servs., Inc. of Minnesota, 187 F.R.D. 578, 586 (D. Minn. 1999)) (emphasis in defendants' brief). In making this argument, Corizon misconstrues the requirements of Rule 30(a)(2).

         As a threshold matter, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a moving party to make a particularized showing of necessity when seeking leave to take additional depositions. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a)(2). Furthermore, imposing such a requirement would unduly increase the burden on a moving party. The plain language of Rule 30 states, inter alia, "the court must grant leave to the extent consistent with Rule 26(b)(1) and (2)." Id. There is no mention of necessity or a particularized showing in Rule 26. Although some courts have adopted the standard proffered by Corizon, I find no legal basis for doing so. Accordingly, plaintiffs' only burden is to show sufficient reason, based in the principles set forth in Rule 26(b)(1) and (2), to exceed the presumptive ten-deposition limit. See id.; see also Laryngeal Mask Co. Ltd. v. Ambti A/S, 2009 WL 10672436, *3-4 (S.D. Cal. July 17, 2009) (stating that ''[t]he plain language of the Rules and the Advisory Committee Notes do not require a particularized showing" when applying Rule 30(a)(2)).

         II. Plaintiffs May Take Three of the Five ...

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