eDiscovery Daily Blog
Court Orders Defendant to Respond to Interrogatories to Identify Number of Phone Calls it Made: eDiscovery Case Law
In Franklin v. Ocwen Loan Serv., LLC, No. 18-cv-03333-SI (N.D. Cal. Mar. 12, 2019), California District Judge Susan Illston ordered the defendant to respond to interrogatories, “with, at minimum, information regarding the total number of phone calls defendant made during the relevant period to California residents (including any account associated with a California address and any account containing a California area code)” and ordered the parties to stipulate to a method for extrapolating the total number of recorded phone calls defendant made to California residents during the relevant period.
In this case brought by the plaintiff, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, for illegal recording of cellular phone conversations pursuant to California Penal Code § 632.7, the plaintiff requested “information related to the number of California residents whose conversations with Defendant were recorded.” The defendant objected that the request was “unduly burdensome and disproportionate to the needs of the case because responding to them would take thousand[s] or hundreds of thousands of hours of work”, requiring them “to examine each account with a California address or area code, determine if any calls were made on that account, attempt to locate those calls and any recordings of those calls, and then listen to the recordings to determine whether the person being called answered the call and was recorded rather than a message being left on voicemail or someone else answering the call.” Instead, the defendant proposed that the parties stipulate that it called and recorded a minimum number of persons in California, such as “over 100 persons.”
Referencing Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), Judge Illston stated “The Court agrees with plaintiff that information regarding the number of recorded calls defendant made is relevant to his motion for class certification, going not only to numerosity but also to the question of whether ‘a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.’…It is also relevant, among other things, to the question of damages, particularly in light of the Court’s ruling that ‘plaintiff may seek a class-wide award of statutory damages in an amount up to $5,000 per class member[.]’…It will not suffice for defendant to stipulate to an arbitrary number such as ‘over 100 persons.’”
Both parties cited the case Ronquillo-Griffin v. Transunion Rental Screening Sols., Inc., No. 17-cv-129-JM (BLM), 2018 WL 325051 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 8, 2018), where the district court denied the plaintiff’s motion to compel production of the actual recordings defendant made with the potential class members. However, Judge Illston stated: “Here, plaintiff is not seeking the recordings themselves but requests the total ‘number of California residents whose conversations with Defendant were recorded.’…This is consistent with what the Ronquillo-Griffin court ordered.”
As a result, Judge Illston ordered the defendant to respond to the plaintiff’s interrogatories, “with, at minimum, information regarding the total number of phone calls defendant made during the relevant period to California residents (including any account associated with a California address and any account containing a California area code)” and ordered the parties to stipulate to a method for extrapolating the total number of recorded phone calls defendant made to California residents during the relevant period – all by March 26, 2019. Hey, that’s today!
So, what do you think? Was this the right decision or should the judge have accepted the defendant’s proportionality argument? Please let us know if any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Case opinion link courtesy of eDiscovery Assistant.
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