Spectrum Scientifics, LLC et al v. Celestron Acquisition, LLC et al

Filing 569

ORDER re 545 December 13, 2023 Discovery Dispute re Defendants' Interrogatories to DPPs. Signed by Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi on 2/7/2024. (vkdlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/7/2024)Any non-CM/ECF Participants have been served by First Class Mail to the addresses of record listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 SAN JOSE DIVISION 7 IN RE TELESCOPES ANTITRUST LITIGATION 8 9 11 ORDER RE DECEMBER 13, 2023 DISCOVERY DISPUTE RE DEFENDANTS' INTERROGATORIES TO DPPS 12 Re: Dkt. No. 545 10 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 20-cv-03642-EJD (VKD) 13 The parties ask the Court to resolve a dispute about the number of interrogatories DPPs 14 15 should be required to answer. Dkt. No. 545. The Court finds this dispute suitable for resolution 16 without oral argument. Civil L.R. 7-1(b). 17 Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: “Unless otherwise stipulated or 18 ordered by the court, a party may serve on any other party no more than 25 written interrogatories 19 including all discrete subparts.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a).1 A responding party must serve written 20 answers and objections, if any, within 30 days. Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2). Any objections must be 21 stated with specificity, and each interrogatory (to the extent not objected to) must be answered 22 separately and fully in writing under oath. Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(3)-(4). Here, as permitted by 23 Rule 33, the number of interrogatories was set by a court order entered May 11, 2021, upon 24 stipulation of the parties. See Dkt. No. 169. The order states in relevant part: 25 26 27 28 Although the rule does not define “discrete subparts,” the prevailing view is that interrogatory subparts should be counted as one interrogatory “‘if they are logically or factually subsumed within and necessarily related to the primary question.’” Synopsys, Inc. v. ATopTech, Inc., 319 F.R.D. 293, 294 (N.D. Cal. 2016) (quoting Safeco of Am. v. Rawstron, 181 F.R.D. 441, 445 (C.D. Cal. 1998)) (summarizing cases). 1 Defendants collectively may . . . serve up to 50 interrogatories on DPPs. For the purposes of tracking how many interrogatories each party has served, a single interrogatory that is served on a single party (i.e., Celestron) will count as one interrogatory. A single interrogatory that is served on two or more parties (i.e., Celestron and SW Technology) will also count as one interrogatory. 1 2 3 4 5 Id., sec. C, paras. 3, 4. No stipulation or court order modifying this provision appears on the 6 docket. At the time of the May 11, 2021 order, DPPs’ operative complaint identified two named United States District Court Northern District of California 7 8 plaintiffs, Radio City, Inc. and Spectrum Scientifics LLC. See Dkt. No. 54. Spectrum Scientifics 9 voluntarily dismissed its individual claims in June 2021 (Dkt. No. 172), and Radio City has since 10 been disqualified as a class representative (Dkt. No. 486 at 16, 21-22). Recently, DPPs named 11 three new plaintiffs in their fourth amended complaint: Aurora Astro Products LLC, Pioneer 12 Cycling & Fitness, LLP, and Jason Steele. Dkt. No. 495. 13 While the parties agree that defendants may take discovery of the three new named 14 plaintiffs, in August 2023, defendants served over 150 interrogatories on these plaintiffs without 15 seeking leave of court.2 DPPs objected to the number of interrogatories, and the parties conferred 16 in an effort to resolve DPPs’ objections. Dkt. No. 545 at 2. Defendants say that the parties agreed 17 on October 20, 2023 that DPPs would answer a total of 75 interrogatories directed to the new 18 named plaintiffs. Id. at 2. Thereafter, defendants identified the specific interrogatories to be 19 answered in an email dated October 31, 2023, quoted in the joint submission. Id. at 3. DPPs say 20 that defendants simply ignored their objections to the number of interrogatories, so they just 21 selected 50 from among the interrogatories defendants initially served on the new named plaintiffs 22 and answered those interrogatories. Id. at 5, 8. DPPs do not specifically address defendants’ 23 claim that the parties agreed that DPPs would respond to 75 interrogatories and that defendants 24 would identify which interrogatories should be answered, as reflected in the October 31, 2023 25 email. 26 27 28 2 Defendants say they served 171 interrogatories; DPPs say defendants served 156 interrogatories. See Dkt. No. 545 at 2, 5. 2 1 2 interrogatories defendants identified in their October 31, 2023 email, or whether DPPs need only 3 respond to 50 interrogatories of their own selection. The parties’ joint submission is not helpful in 4 resolving this dispute. Defendants do not explain what information they seek to discover or why 5 the interrogatory limit set in the May 11, 2021 order is insufficient. Instead, they complain about 6 DPPs’ delay in producing documents and about the general inadequacy of the interrogatory 7 answers DPPs have provided so far. Similarly, DPPs complain about defendants’ initial service of 8 too many interrogatories and about defendants’ questioning of witnesses in depositions. 9 United States District Court Northern District of California Now, the parties disagree about whether DPPs should have to answer the 75 According to a strict application of the May 11, 2021 order, defendants collectively are 10 permitted to serve only 50 unique interrogatories on DPPs. See Dkt. No. 169, sec. C, paras. 3, 4. 11 The Court would have enforced this order, absent defendants’ showing of good cause to expand 12 the number of permitted interrogatories, had the parties not reached an agreement extending the 13 interrogatory limit from 50 to 75 for the new named plaintiffs. The Court has repeatedly 14 encouraged the parties to resolve their discovery disputes without the Court’s intervention, and the 15 Court credits defendants’ representations that the parties in fact reached an agreement that DPPs 16 would answer 75 interrogatories selected by defendants. The Court will enforce that agreement. 17 Accordingly, the Court orders as follows: DPPs must respond to the 75 interrogatories 18 identified in defendants’ October 31, 2023 email, quoted at page 3 of Dkt. No. 545. DPPs’ 19 responses must fully comply with Rule 33, including Rule 33(d). DPPs’ responses must be served 20 no later than February 23, 2024. 21 22 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 7, 2024 23 24 VIRGINIA K. DEMARCHI United States Magistrate Judge 25 26 27 28 3

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