James v. UMG Recordings, Inc.

Filing 201

Discovery Order, Motions terminated: 197 Discovery Letter Brief filed by UMG Recordings, Inc. Signed by Judge Maria-Elena James on April 11, 2014. (mejlc3, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/11/2014)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 RICK JAMES, et al., Case No. 11-cv-01613-SI (MEJ) United States District Court Northern District of California Plaintiffs, 12 DISCOVERY ORDER v. Re: Dkt. No. 197 13 14 UMG RECORDINGS, INC., Defendant. 15 16 INTRODUCTION 17 18 On March 24, 2014, the parties filed a joint letter regarding a dispute over outstanding 19 issues regarding UMGR’s interrogatories and requests for admissions (“RFA”). Jt. Ltr., Dkt. No. 20 197. UMGR first seeks an order compelling Plaintiffs to provide a further response to 21 Interrogatory No. 29 in compliance with the Court’s August 29, 2013 Order (Dkt. No. 168). Id. 22 UMGR then seeks an order compelling Plaintiff Dave Mason (“Mason”) to respond to UMGR’s 23 RFA Nos. 95-105 and 116-126. Id. DISCUSSION 24 25 26 A. Interrogatory No. 29 This interrogatory asks, “For each agreement alleged in the [Consolidated Amended 27 Complaint (“CAC”)]: (a) state each part of the agreement not in writing, and the date that part of 28 the agreement was made; (b) state each modification not in writing, and the date the modification 1 was made; (c) state who participated in the communications or conduct that created each 2 modification not in writing; and (d) identify all DOCUMENTS that evidence each modification of 3 the agreement not in writing and for each state the name, address, and telephone number of each 4 person or entity who has the DOCUMENT.” Id. at 1. UMGR contends that Plaintiffs’ response to 5 this interrogatory is evasive because it fails to identify any actual modifications, in accordance 6 with the legal meaning of that term. Id. Instead, UMGR argues, Plaintiffs have provided an 7 evasive response from which it cannot be discerned whether Plaintiffs contend the contracts have, 8 or have not, been modified by the 2002 Ostroff Memo. Id. Plaintiffs argue that their response is 9 sufficient, and that UMGR’s attempt to force them to provide their contentions regarding the legal effect of the modifications set forth in their response is outside the scope of the original 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 interrogatory. Id. at 3. The Court agrees. UMGR has asked Plaintiffs to identify each 12 modification, and they have done so. UMGR’s request to compel further responses to this 13 interrogatory is therefore DENIED. A. Requests for Admissions 14 RFA Nos. 95-105 ask Mason to admit that “MUSIC DOWNLOAD PROVIDERS” are 15 16 “direct sales to consumer operations” within the meaning of various absent class members’ 17 contracts. Ex. B to Jt. Ltr., at 7-15. RFA Nos. 116-126 seek the same admissions with respect to 18 “RINGTONE PROVIDERS.” Id. at 20-28. UMGR contends that these RFAs are relevant and 19 probative of Mason’s claim that he is a proper class representative because each of these contracts 20 provide for a reduced royalty rate for “direct sales to consumer operations,” indicating that these 21 eleven putative class members would actually be harmed by their inclusion in the class. Jt. Ltr. at 22 3-4. UMGR further contends that these RFAs are proper based on this Court’s prior discovery 23 order compelling one plaintiff to respond to RFAs concerning its understanding of the terms of its 24 own contract1. Id. at 3. UMGR also argues that Mason’s response that he “lacks sufficient 25 26 27 28 1 UMGR’s attempt to expand the holding of this Court’s prior discovery order to support its position is misplaced. That order required Plaintiff Whitesnake to respond to RFAs concerning its interpretation of the meaning of terms in its own contract, and did not broadly hold that UMGR could seek admissions regarding Plaintiffs’ interpretations of absent class members’ contracts. Dkt. No. 171. 2 1 information” does not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a) because the information 2 is readily obtainable from Mason’s attorneys. Id. at 3. 3 Plaintiffs respond that these RFAs are improper in that they require Mason to review and 4 interpret the meaning of terms as they appear in contracts to which Mason is not a party, 5 regardless of whether or not his attorneys have themselves performed such a review. Id. at 4. 6 Mason has already testified at deposition that he had “no knowledge of the contents or proper 7 interpretation of any other artist’s agreement with UMGR,” and did not know whether UMGR 8 used form contracts. Id. (citing Mason Dep. at 85-92, 152). Plaintiffs also argue that these RFAs 9 essentially seek unnecessary discovery from absent class members in order to determine whether Mason is an adequate class representative. Id. (citing Mehl v. Canadian Pac. Ry., 216 F.R.D. 627, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 631 (D.N.D. 2003). The Court agrees with Plaintiffs. While UMGR may seek Mason’s own 12 interpretation of the meaning of terms that appear in his contract, RFA asking Mason to interpret 13 the meaning of terms appearing in the contracts of absent class members is improper. 14 Accordingly, UMGR’s request to compel responses to these interrogatories is DENIED. 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 17 18 19 Dated: April 11, 2014 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?