The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry v. California State Grange et al.

Filing 119

ORDER signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 4/3/2017 GRANTING 115 Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Application to stay of discovery until the resolution of the motion to disqualify the Ellis Law Group. (Kirksey Smith, K)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 ----oo0oo---- 11 12 13 14 The NATIONAL GRANGE OF THE ORDER OF PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY and the CALIFORNIA STATE GRANGE, CIV. NO. 2:16-201 WBS DB ORDER RE: EX PARTE APPLICATION TO STAY DISCOVERY Plaintiffs, 15 16 17 18 v. CALIFORNIA GUILD, formerly doing business as “California State Grange,” and ROBERT MCFARLAND, 19 Defendants. 20 ----oo0oo---- 21 On March 13, 2017, plaintiffs the National Grange of 22 23 the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (“National Grange”) and the 24 California State Grange filed a motion to disqualify counsel for 25 defendant Robert McFarland, the Ellis Law Group. 26 114.) 27 attorney, Anthony Valenti, who worked at Porter Scott, a firm 28 that represented the National Grange on a prior related matter. (Docket No. According to plaintiffs, the Ellis Law Group employs an 1 1 (Pls.’ Mem. at 2 (Docket No. 115-1).) 2 that Valenti worked at Porter Scott, and further concede that 3 Valenti worked specifically on the National Grange’s case while 4 at Porter Scott. 5 117).) 6 Law Group is necessary in light of Valenti’s alleged non- 7 participation in this case. 8 disqualify the Ellis Law Group is currently set for hearing on 9 May 1, 2017. Defendants do not deny (See McFarland’s Opp’n at 3 n.3 (Docket No. Defendants dispute whether disqualification of the Ellis 10 (Id. at 4.) Plaintiffs’ motion to Before the court now is plaintiffs’ ex parte 11 application to stay discovery in this case until resolution of 12 their motion to disqualify. 13 each filed an opposition to plaintiffs’ application. 14 Nos. 116-117.) 15 (Docket No. 115.) Defendants have (Docket The court has inherent authority to manage the cases 16 before it. Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254–255 (1936) 17 (“[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power 18 inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes 19 on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for 20 counsel, and for litigants.”). 21 order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, 22 oppression, or undue burden or expense,” including “specifying 23 [the] time and place . . . for . . . discovery.” 24 26(c)(1). 25 order to show good cause by demonstrating harm or prejudice that 26 will result from the discovery.” 27 1057, 1063 (9th Cir. 2004). Stays of discovery are committed to 28 the discretion of the court. See Little v. City of Seattle, 863 It “may, for good cause, issue an Fed. R. Civ. P. “The burden is upon the party seeking the [protective] Rivera v. NIBCO, Inc., 364 F.3d 2 1 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988) (noting that a district court’s 2 stay of discovery “will not be overturned unless there is a clear 3 abuse of discretion”); Jarvis v. Regan, 833 F.2d 149, 155 (9th 4 Cir. 1987) (reviewing district court’s stay of discovery for 5 abuse of discretion). 6 Plaintiffs argue that requiring them to proceed with 7 discovery while their motion to disqualify is pending poses the 8 risk that they will be prejudiced by the Ellis Law Group’s use of 9 privileged information obtained by Valenti in conducting such 10 discovery. 11 pending, plaintiffs represent, there will likely be “substantial 12 disputes” between the parties as to how discovery should be 13 conducted. 14 make it “likely impossible for the parties to [engage in any] 15 meaningful discovery.” 16 (Pls.’ Mem. at 3.) (Id.) So long as their motion is Such disputes, according to plaintiffs, would (Id.) The court finds that plaintiffs have shown good cause 17 to stay discovery until resolution of their motion to disqualify. 18 There is evidence before the court indicating that Valenti worked 19 on a case involving the National Grange while at Porter Scott, 20 (see Decl. of Mark Ellis ¶ 11 (Docket No. 117-1)), and that he 21 was, at one point, counsel of record for defendant McFarland in 22 this case, (see Docket No. 112 (referring to Valenti as 23 “attorney[] of record for Defendant Robert McFarland”)). 24 evidence suggests that the Ellis Law Group may have used Valenti 25 in a conflicting fashion in this case, and there is a risk 26 plaintiffs will be prejudiced by the Ellis Law Group’s continued 27 involvement in this case. 28 risk. Such Staying discovery will help avoid that The court is not aware of any prejudice that would result 3 1 to defendants from granting plaintiffs’ requested stay, which is 2 not likely to last longer than one month.1 3 stay makes it difficult for defendants to complete discovery 4 prior to the discovery deadline in this case,2 defendants may 5 seek leave of court to extend that deadline. To the extent the 6 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiffs’ ex parte 7 application to stay discovery until the resolution of their 8 motion to disqualify the Ellis Law Group be, and the same hereby 9 is, GRANTED. 10 Dated: April 3, 2017 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 Defendants note that they recently propounded discovery on plaintiffs which plaintiffs have yet to respond to. (Cal. Guild’s Opp’n at 3 (Docket No. 116).) Defendants provide no explanation, however, as to why a delay in plaintiffs’ response to such discovery would result in detriment to them. 2 The discovery deadline in this case is currently set for May 29, 2017. (Dec. 13, 2016 Order at 2 (Docket No. 111).) 4

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