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July 13, 2020

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Magistrate Judge Reinhart Flattens Attempts to Broaden Discovery

In Grigorian v. Tixe Realty Servs., Case No: 19-81106-CIV-ROSENBERG/REINHART, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206451 *; 2019 WL 63071911, Magistrate Judge Reinhart shut down Plaintiff’s requested reconsideration of an earlier ruling limiting discovery, drawing from foundational litigation standards.

Plaintiff urged the Court to reconsider its Order – which had limited discovery regarding the alleged text messages sent in violation of the TCPA to a mere two days; the only two days specified in the Amended pleading. Plaintiff protested that other statements in the complaint support broader discovery, for example, the assertion that the Defendant had caused thousands of text messages to be sent to class members.  However, the Court held that a general allegation that thousands of text messages were sent simply does not show that Defendant contacted any potential class members on dates beyond the two dates alleged in the complaint; not only that but the court ruled such a conclusory allegation is fruitless, as it fails to meet the threshold Iqbal/Twombly standard.  Consequently there was no clear error to limiting discovery to two days.

Rather neatly, the Court also recognized that inevitably, there cannot be any manifest injustice in denying expanding discovery.  This is because by signing the complaint, Plaintiff’s counsel certified under Rule 11 that he has evidence to support the alleged thousands of sent text messages. Consequently, “[he] can use that evidence to attempt to certify the class and/or [] seek to amend the Complaint to plead those facts.” 

Finally, the court refused to credit allegations plead on “information and belief” to justify broad class discovery. The Court found that the complaint did not justify it:

“ – he has not pled sufficient facts to create a plausible inference that the proposed larger class exists…. Plaintiff ignores that civil discovery is not the only method by which he can obtain evidence of the larger class, if one exists.  Prior to filing the Complaint, Plaintiff could have used other means to try to identify a larger class.  What he cannot do is what he seeks to do here — file a complaint that plausibly alleges, at best, a very limited class, then impose on the Defendant the burden to provide the evidence necessary to expand that class.”

Obtaining reconsideration from a court is tough. This opinion is a great framework to demonstrate broad allegations are not enough to alter the discovery scope. 

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 343

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About this Author

Associate

Jason M. Ingber’s practice focuses on consumer class action defense and breach of contract litigation. Jason specializes in cases brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and has handled all phases of litigation in cases involving consumer protection statutes, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.

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