CertainTeed Gypsum, Inc. v. Pacific Coast Building Products, Inc. et al

Filing 154

Order on 146 , 151 Discovery Disputes. Signed by Judge Susan van Keulen on 7/14/2021. (svklc1S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/14/2021)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 CERTAINTEED GYPSUM, INC., Plaintiff, 8 9 10 11 Case No. 19-cv-00802-LHK (SVK) ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTES v. Re: Dkt. Nos. 146, 151 PACIFIC COAST BUILDING PRODUCTS, INC., et al., United States District Court Northern District of California Defendants. 12 13 Before the Court are the Parties’ discovery disputes arising out of Pacific Coast’s 14 responses to RFAs 15-18 (Dkt. 146) and regarding depositions of Messrs. Mueller and Gafford 15 and Shepperd Mullin. Dkt. 151. The Court has reviewed the submissions of the Parties and other 16 relevant pleadings and determined these matters may be resolved without oral argument. 17 Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). 18 CertainTeed’s Request to Compel Responses to Requests for Admissions. 19 Pacific Coast responds to the four disputed RFAs with qualified denials, ultimately stating 20 for each request that it “lacks knowledge sufficient to permit [it] it admit or deny . . . .” As one 21 justification for its qualified denial, Pacific Coast points to pending claims construction, which 22 includes the term “inner surface” (Dkt. 111). “Inner surface” appears in RFA 16 and, Pacific 23 Coast argues, is implicated by similar language in the remaining RFAS, for example “between the 24 two gypsum boards” in RFA 15 and “side of each gypsum board facing the other gypsum board” 25 in RFAs 17 and 18. CertainTeed challenges the factual underpinnings of Pacific Coast’s qualifiers 26 and, pointing to language in the jurisprudence, complains of Pacific Coast’s “over-technical” 27 reading of the requests. 28 Rule 36 requires that a denial still “fairly respond to the substance of the matter.” The Rule also allows for qualified denials where the responding party must “state in detail why 2 [it]cannot truthfully admit or deny it.” The Parties’ dispute highlights the tension between these 3 requirements. RFAs can be extremely useful as a discovery tool to resolve and set aside issues for 4 which the time and resources of trial are not required. In this regard, RFAs are best employed 5 tactically, rather than strategically. They are far less effective when directed at more complex 6 issues, as appears to be the case here. It may be that claims construction will better inform Pacific 7 Coast’s ability, if not willingness, to respond. Accordingly, at this time Pacific Coast’s qualified 8 responses stand as its response of record, specifically, that it lacks “knowledge sufficient to permit 9 [it] to admit or deny” the RFA. Pursuant to Rule 36(a)(6), the Court DEFERS further ruling until 10 Judge Koh issues a claims construction order. Following the order, CertainTeed will have 10 days 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 to renew its motion before this Court, mindful of the limitations on RFAs noted above. 12 Parties’ Dispute Regarding Deposition Scheduling 13 The Court reviewed the pending motion to dismiss. Messrs. Mueller and Gafford and the 14 Sheppard Mullin law firm will be produced for deposition within ten days following Judge Koh’s 15 order denying any relevant portion of the motion to dismiss, with or without leave to amend. 16 Pacific Coast’s request to quash the subpoena to Sheppard Mullin is DENIED. 17 Messrs. Mueller and Gafford are to be deposed before Sheppard Mullin. If CertainTeed 18 wishes to proceed now with Mr. Gafford’s deposition in phases, as proposed by Pacific Coast 19 (Dkt. 151, 5:20-23), it may do so. 20 21 SO ORDERED. Dated: July 14, 2021 22 23 SUSAN VAN KEULEN United States Magistrate Judge 24 25 26 27 28 2

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