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Updike v. Marion County

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

September 30, 2019

DAVID UPDIKE, on behalf of himself, and for all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,


          Ann Aiken, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff David Updike brings this putative class action against defendant Marion County, alleging two claims: (1) discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132; and (2) discrimination in violation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 794. The County has filed a Renewed Motion for Protective Order (doc. 45) to limit topics for the Rule 30(b)(d) deposition of Marion County. For the following reasons, the County's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


         I. Rule 30(b)(6) Organizational Depositions

         Rule 30(b)(6) permits a party to name an organization as a deponent. The party's notice "must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination." Fed. R, Civ. P. 30(b)(6). Then, the named organization must designate one or more witness, who "must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization." Id.

         "In a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition, there is no distinction between the corporate representative and the corporation. The Rule 30(b)(6) designee does not give their personal opinion. Rather, they present the corporation's 'position' on the topic. The designee testifies on behalf of the corporation and thus holds it accoxmtable." Sprint Commc'iis Co. L.P. v., Inc., 236 F.R.D. 524, 527 (D. Kan. 2006) (quotations marks and footnotes omitted), Under this rule, "companies have a duty to make a conscientious, good-faith effort to designate knowledgeable persons for Rule 30(b)(6) depositions and to prepare them to fully and unevasively answer questions about the designated subject matter." Id, (quotation marks omitted).

         Because Ride 30(b)(6) places substantial responsibilities and burdens on the responding corporate or organizational party, the Rule itself requires that the party requesting the deposition "must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination." As one court has explained, "to allow the Rxue to effectively function, the requesting party must take care to designate, with painstaking specificity, the particular subject areas that are intended to be questioned, and that are relevant to the issues in dispute." Sprint, 236 F.R.D. at 528 (emphasis added); see also Lipari v. U.S. Bancorp, N.A., 2008 WL 4642618, at *5 (D. Kan. Oct. 16, 2008). "Once notified as to the reasonably particularized areas of inquiry, the corporation then must not only produce such number of persons as will satisfy the request, but more importantly, prepare them so that they may give complete, knowledgeable and binding answers on behalf of the corporation." Sprint, 236 F.R.D. at 528 (quotation marks omitted); see also Memory Integrity, LLC u. Intel Corp., 308 F.R.D. 656, 660-61 (D. Or. 2015). Thus, for Rule 30(b)(6) to achieve its objectives, both the party requesting discovery and the party providing discovery must conscientiously and fairly comply with the demands of the rule.

         II. Factual and Procedural History

         For this discovery motion, the Court takes as true the following facts alleged in the complaint. Plaintiff has been deaf his entire life. He relies on American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate and needs an ASL interpreter to communicate effectively with people who do not know ASL. Without auxiliary aids, like video conferencing, teletypewriters, and closed-caption functions, plaintiff cannot use a standard telephone or understand programs on television.

         Plaintiff served a month-long sentence at the Marion County Jail beginning June 29, 2018. He alleges that, during his incarceration, he asked for a medical appointment for a back injury but was not given an appointment, that he repeatedly tried to use the jail's teletypewriting machine to call his family and attorney but the machine did not work and was not repaired despite the hand-written requests he made to corrections and civilian staff. Plaintiff also alleges that the County failed to provide him a private room to meet with his attorney so they could not have an ASL conversation. He further alleges that the County did not provide plaintiff with ASL interpreter services when he requested them and the only time he had an ASL interpreter was at booking. Plaintiff asserts that he could not effectively communicate with jail staff, his attorney, medical staff, or other inmates and that he could not use jail services and programs on an equal basis with hearing inmates. Plaintiff also asserts that lack of effective communication, lack of telephone access, and lack of recreational opportunities caused him to feel frustrated, humiliated, angry, anxious, isolated, and confused and caused a loss of dignity for plaintiff.

         Plaintiff asserts that his experience at Marion County Jail is representative of the experiences of other deaf inmates. He seeks to represent a class of past and future deaf inmates.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging violations of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act on July 28, 2018, while he was still in Marion County Jail. As relevant to this motion, he sent a Notice of Deposition of Marion County on July 17, 2019. After the County asked plaintiff to change the date of the deposition, plaintiff sent an Amended Notice of Deposition for the new date of August 8, 2019, Then, after receiving the County's objections to some topics in the Amended Notice of Deposition, plaintiff sent a Second Amended Notice of Deposition. On July 3, 2019, the County protectively moved for a protective order, asserting objections to some topics in the Second Amended Notice, Following an August 6, 2019 telephonic status conference on the parties' dispute, the Court ordered the County to file a renewed motion and the parties to file simultaneous briefing on the issues. The parties also agreed that they would move forward with the August 8 deposition, but that plaintiff would not ask questions about the topics that the County had objected to until the Court ruled on those objections.


         Plaintiffs Second Amended Notice of FRCP 30(b)(6) Deposition of Marion County contains 36 paragraphs that designate or describe specific subject matters for an organizational deposition of the County. Under Rule 30(b)(6), the County must provide one or more witnesses to testify on its behalf about the specific subject matters described in each of the paragraphs. The County seeks a protective order under Rule 26(c)(1)(D) of ...

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