Feske et al v. MHC Thousand Trails Limited Partnership et al

Filing 42

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO BIFURCATE DISCOVERY by Judge Paul S. Grewal denying 33 Motion to Bifurcate (psglc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/4/2012)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 11 SAN JOSE DIVISION ) Case No.: C 11-04124 PSG ) Plaintiffs, ) ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO BIFURCATE ) DISCOVERY v. ) ) (Re: Docket No. 33) MHC THOUSAND TRIALS LIMITED ) PARTNERSHIP, ET AL., ) ) Defendants. ) ___________________________________ ) DAVID FESKE AND TERI FESKE, 12 13 14 15 16 17 Defendants MHC Thousand Trails Limited Partnership, MHC Operating Limited 18 Partnership, Equity Lifestyle Properties, Inc. and Thousand Trails Management Services, Inc. 19 (collectively “Defendants”) move to bifurcate discovery. Plaintiffs David Feske and Teri Feske 20 (collectively “Plaintiffs”) oppose the motion. On January 3, 2012, the parties appeared for hearing. 21 Having reviewed the papers and considered the arguments of counsel, 22 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ motion to bifurcate discovery is DENIED. 23 This is a putative class action. Defendants argue that to reduce the burden of the far-reaching 24 and costly discovery suggested by Plaintiffs, discovery should be bifurcated into two phases – class 25 and merits discovery. Defendants cite three specific reasons to bifurcate: (1) class discovery will be 26 substantially narrower; (2) if, as Defendants expect, the court denies class certification, substantial 27 merits discovery including discovery on liability and damages can be avoided; and (3) bifurcation 28 Case No.: C 11-04124 PSG ORDER DENYING MOTION TO BIFURCATE 1 1 2 will expedite the certification decision. Plaintiffs respond that because the issues of class certification are so intertwined with the 3 underlying causes of action, bifurcation will not work and that any efficiency gains would be 4 illusory. 5 Although this is a close question, the court agrees with Plaintiffs. Only recently, in Dukes v. 6 Wal-Mart, the Supreme Court addressed the certification requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(1)(A) 7 and affirmed the certification determination “will entail some overlap with the merits of the 8 plaintiff’s underlying claim.”1 The necessary implication is that even under a bifurcated structure, 9 certain merits discovery will be required. Bifurcation may nevertheless make sense in some cases. 10 But where, as here, fraud and other representation-based claims are at the center of the case, the 11 overlap of the merits to the certification question appears so substantial that any efficiency gains 12 from bifurcation appear to be minimal. Under these circumstances, the court sees little benefit to 13 drawing a line between class discovery and merits discovery that will almost certainly invite further 14 dissonance among the parties. 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 Dated: 1/4/2012 17 PAUL S. GREWAL United States Magistrate Judge 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 __U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 51-52, 180 L.Ed.2d 374 (2011). Case No.: C 11-04124 PSG ORDER DENYING MOTION TO BIFURCATE 2

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