This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/26/2022 at 20:53:10 (UTC).

CHRIS STOUT VS BARTON BRANDS OF CALIFORNIA, INC., ET AL.

Case Summary

On 07/02/2020 CHRIS STOUT filed a Labor - Other Labor lawsuit against BARTON BRANDS OF CALIFORNIA, INC ,. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are UPINDER S. KALRA and DENNIS J. LANDIN. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******4978

  • Filing Date:

    07/02/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Other Labor

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

UPINDER S. KALRA

DENNIS J. LANDIN

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

STOUT CHRIS

Defendants

SAZERAC DISTILLERS LLC

SAZERAC COMPANY INC.

BARTON BRANDS OF CALIFORNIA INC.

SAZERAC NORTH AMERICA INC.

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorneys

MCMILLAN-DELANEY HEATHER KAY

STEVENS DANIEL PAUL

Defendant Attorneys

SCALERO JEANINE

COWIE PAUL S

 

Court Documents

Declaration - DECLARATION OF BRIAN FONG IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS BARTON BRANDS OF CALIFORNIA, INC., SAZERAC NORTH AMERICA INC., SAZERAC COMPANY, INC., AND SAZERAC DISTILLERS LLC'S PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE

7/8/2022: Declaration - DECLARATION OF BRIAN FONG IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS BARTON BRANDS OF CALIFORNIA, INC., SAZERAC NORTH AMERICA INC., SAZERAC COMPANY, INC., AND SAZERAC DISTILLERS LLC'S PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE PEREMTORY CHALLENGE AGAINST THE HONORABLE, UPI...)

7/8/2022: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (COURT ORDER RE PEREMTORY CHALLENGE AGAINST THE HONORABLE, UPI...)

Order - ORDER OF COURT'S FINAL RULING

7/8/2022: Order - ORDER OF COURT'S FINAL RULING

Challenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6)

7/8/2022: Challenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE PEREMTORY CHALLENGE AGAINST THE HONORABLE, UPI...) OF 07/08/2022

7/8/2022: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (COURT ORDER RE PEREMTORY CHALLENGE AGAINST THE HONORABLE, UPI...) OF 07/08/2022

Notice - NOTICE CASE REASSIGNMENT

6/20/2022: Notice - NOTICE CASE REASSIGNMENT

Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

6/14/2022: Notice of Case Reassignment and Order for Plaintiff to Give Notice

Declaration - DECLARATION OF CHRISTOPHER GAVRILIUC ISO MTC RESPONSES FROM SAZERAC DEFENDANTS TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS, SET ONE

6/6/2022: Declaration - DECLARATION OF CHRISTOPHER GAVRILIUC ISO MTC RESPONSES FROM SAZERAC DEFENDANTS TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS, SET ONE

Notice of Motion

6/6/2022: Notice of Motion

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

6/6/2022: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Declaration - DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR TERMINATING SANCTIONS

6/3/2022: Declaration - DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR TERMINATING SANCTIONS

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

6/3/2022: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

Notice of Motion

6/3/2022: Notice of Motion

Declaration - DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES

5/17/2022: Declaration - DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES

Notice of Motion

5/17/2022: Notice of Motion

Notice of Motion

5/17/2022: Notice of Motion

Separate Statement

5/17/2022: Separate Statement

Separate Statement

5/17/2022: Separate Statement

61 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/11/2022
  • Hearing10/11/2022 at 09:30 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 09/29/2022
  • Hearing09/29/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 08/29/2022
  • Hearing08/29/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel DEFENDANTS SAZERAC COMPANY INC., SAZERAC NORTH AMERICA INC., AND SAZERAC DISTILLERS LLC TO PROVIDE RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS, SET ONE AND REQUEST FOR MONETARY SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,050.00 (3320)

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  • 08/22/2022
  • Hearing08/22/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Terminating Sanctions

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  • 08/08/2022
  • Hearing08/08/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., to Provide Further Responses to Request for Production of Documents, Set Three, and Request for Monetary Sanctions (6434)

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  • 08/08/2022
  • Hearing08/08/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., to Provide Further Responses to Court Ordered Special Interrogatories, Court Modified No.'s 10-16 and Request for Monetary Sanctions in the Amount of $1,400.00 (4118)

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  • 08/08/2022
  • Hearing08/08/2022 at 09:00 AM in Department 51 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion to Compel Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., to Provide Further Responses to Court Ordered Requests for Production of Documents No.'s 36, 49, 58 & Court Modified No.'s 3,5,35,43,59,60,61,62,63,64,66,67,72 & Request for Monetary Sanctions (9828)

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  • 07/08/2022
  • Docketat 4:09 PM in Department 51, Upinder S. Kalra, Presiding; Court Order

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  • 07/08/2022
  • DocketDeclaration (of Brian Fong in support of Defendants Barton Brands of California, Inc., Sazerac North America Inc., Sazerac Company, Inc., and Sazerac Distillers LLC's Peremptory Challenge Pursuant to Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 170.6;); Filed by Barton Brands of California, Inc. (Defendant); Sazerac North America Inc. (Defendant); Sazerac Company Inc. (Defendant) et al.

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  • 07/08/2022
  • DocketChallenge To Judicial Officer - Peremptory (170.6); Filed by Barton Brands of California, Inc. (Defendant); Sazerac North America Inc. (Defendant); Sazerac Company Inc. (Defendant) et al.

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67 More Docket Entries
  • 08/24/2020
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Barton Brands of California, Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/16/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/15/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/02/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/02/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/02/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/02/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Chris Stout (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/02/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******4978 Hearing Date: August 8, 2022 Dept: 51

1.

Tentative Ruling

Judge Upinder S. Kalra, Department 51

HEARING DATE: August 8, 2022

CASE NAME: Chris Stout v. Barton Brands of California, Inc., et al.

CASE NO.: *******4978

PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES –

Special Interrogatories (4118)

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Chris Stout

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendant Barton Brand of California

REQUESTED RELIEF:

1. An order compelling Defendant to provide further responses to Special Interrogatories Nos. 10-16

2. Request for Monetary Sanctions against Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Paul S. Cowie, Esq., Brian S. Fong, Esq., Peter Y. Lee, Esq., and Defendant, Barton Brands of California, Inc., jointly, in the sum of $1,400.00

TENTATIVE RULING:

Motion to Compel Further is GRANTED.

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

Plaintiff Chris Stout (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., Sazerac North America Inc., Sazerac Company Inc., Sazerac Distillers LLC, and Does 1 through 50 (“Defendants”) on July 2, 2020. The complaint alleged three causes of action based on discrimination. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against him based on age; he was replaced by younger individuals and eventually terminated, where his position was placed by someone who was around 30 years old.

Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., filed an Answer on August 24, 2020.

Defendants Sazerac North America Inc., Sazerac Company Inc., Sazerac Distillers LLC filed an Answer on November 24, 2020.

The current Motion to Compel Further was filed on May 17, 2022. Defendants’ opposition was filed on July 27, 2022. Plaintiff’s reply was filed on August 1, 2022.

LEGAL STANDARD

Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) section 2030.300 provides that “[o]n receipt of a response to interrogatories, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the propounding party deems that . . .”[a]n answer to a particular interrogatory is evasive or incomplete.” (Code Civ. Proc., 2030.300, subd. (a).)

Notice of the motions must be given within 45 days of service of the verified response, otherwise, the propounding party waives any right to compel a further response. (Code Civ. Proc., 2030.300, subd. (c).) The motions must also be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration. (Code Civ. Proc., 2030.300, subd. (b).)

Finally, Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1345 requires that all motions or responses involving further discovery contain a separate statement with the text of each request, the response, and a statement of factual and legal reasons for compelling further responses. (Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1345, subd. (a)(3)).

Procedural Matters:

Service:

Proofs of Service indicate that the parties served the documents via email.

Meet and Confer:

The Declarations of Christopher E. Gabriliuc and Brian S. Fong both indicate that the parties were meet and conferring regarding the issues. The emails indicate that the parties discussed the issues.

Timely:

Under CCP 2031.310, a party has 45 days after service of the verified responses to file a motion to compel further. After the court order in December 2021, the parties agreed to extensions. On March 31, 2022, Defendant provided supplemental responses. Neither declaration states how service was accomplished.[1] The motion was filed on May 17, 2022. 45 days after March 31, 2022 is May 16, 2022. Additionally, Defendant’s Opposition was filed on July 27, 2022, but oppositions are required 9 court days before the hearing, which would have required the opposition to be filed on July 26, 2022.

Separate Statement

Under Rule 3.1345, a Separate Statement must include the request, the response, and why a further response is provided. The Separate Statement contains this information.

ANALYSIS:

Initially, Plaintiff contended that the responses NO. 10-16 were deficient because Defendant did not include any information about the Owensboro plant did not provide any code-compliant response to No. 16.

Nos. 10-16:

The Special Interrogatories requested information about the following:

10. Number of employees terminated who were over 40 years old,

11.For those terminated, the number of employees replaced by someone under 40 years old

12.The replacement’s qualifications

13.Number of promotions from January 2016 to now

14.For those promoted, provide their age and qualifications

15. Job title that defendant hiring from 2016, and

16. For each Job title from #15: the age, qualification and the age and qualifications of the person replaced or terminated.

In their Reply, Plaintiff acknowledges that Defendant’s subsequent responses to No. 10, 13, 15-16 appear satisfactory but are still deficient as to No. 11 because of qualifying language that there were 23 employees who were not direct replacements. As such, Plaintiff contends that No. 12’s response was also deficient. Plaintiff also contends that response No. 14 does not describe the employee’s qualifications.

Additionally, Plaintiff argues that this Court previously overruled all objections the objections raised by Defendant lack merit. These documents are directly relevant to prove discriminatory patterns within the company; the requests are not overbroad as they are limited in scope; the requests are not vague as the requests are not unintelligible; and the privacy objection because these requests seek information about Plaintiff.

Defendant contends that the motion should be denied because full and complete responses have been provided. On March 30, 2022, and July 14, 2022, supplemental responses were provided, specifically that pertained to the Owensboro facility. Moreover, Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claim about identifying documents is incorrect. Here, Defendant referred the Plaintiff to bate stamped files to retrieve the information.

Despite the supplemental responses provided on July 14, 2022, the Court finds that the responses are still inadequate. As for Nos. 11 and 12, an employee is replaced or not. As to No. 14, the requests seek qualifications for the individuals who received promotions, but Defendant failed to provide qualifications. Lastly, the objections raised by Defendant were previously overruled by the court, except for privilege.

Sanctions:

Under CCP 2023.030, the court can impose monetary sanctions for the misuse of discovery. Additionally, the court can also impose sanctions under CCP 2023.010. The Plaintiff’s Notice of Motion indicates that they are seeking monetary sanctions totaling $1,400 against Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Paul S. Cowie, Esq., Brian S. Fong, Esq., Peter Y. Lee, Esq., and Defendant, Barton Brands of California, Inc., jointly. This is based on an hourly rate of $350 based on 4 hours of work for this matter. The request for Sanctions is GRANTED in full.

Conclusion:

For the foregoing reasons, the Court decides the pending motion as follows:

Motion to Compel Further Responses is GRANTED. Defendant is ordered to comply within 30 days of this order without objection, except privilege.

Request for Sanctions is GRANTED in the amount of $1,400 payable by counsel and Defendant jointly within 30 days of service of this order.

Moving party is to give notice.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: August 8, 2022 Upinder S. Kalra

Judge of the Superior Court

Tentative Ruling

Judge Upinder S. Kalra, Department 51

HEARING DATE: August 8, 2022

CASE NAME: Chris Stout v. Barton Brands of California, Inc., et al.

CASE NO.: *******4978

PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER DISCOVERY RESPONSES – Request for Production of Documents (9828)

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff Chris Stout

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc.

REQUESTED RELIEF:

1. An order compelling Defendant to provide further responses to the Request for Production of Documents 36, 49 58 and court modified No.’s 3, 5, 35, 43, 59-64, 66-67 and 72

2. Request for Monetary Sanctions against Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Paul S. Cowie, Esq., Brian S. Fong, Esq., Peter Y. Lee, Esq., and Defendant, Barton Brands of California, Inc., jointly, in the sum of $1,400.00

TENTATIVE RULING:

Motion to Compel Further is GRANTED.

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

Plaintiff Chris Stout (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., Sazerac North America Inc., Sazerac Company Inc., Sazerac Distillers LLC, and Does 1 through 50 (“Defendants”) on July 2, 2020. The complaint alleged three causes of action based on discrimination. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against him based on age; he was replaced by younger individuals and eventually terminated, where his position was placed by someone who was around 30 years old.

Defendant Barton Brands of California, Inc., filed an Answer on August 24, 2020.

Defendants Sazerac North America Inc., Sazerac Company Inc., Sazerac Distillers LLC filed an Answer on November 24, 2020.

The current Motion to Compel Further was filed on May 17, 2022. Defendants’ opposition was filed on July 27, 2022. Plaintiff’s reply was filed on August 1, 2022.

LEGAL STANDARD

The propounding party may bring a motion to compel further responses to a demand for production if the propounding party deems that production is deficient, incomplete, or contains meritless objections. CCP 2031.310(a). The legal burden to justify refusing or failing to provide discovery lies with the objecting party. (Coy v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 210, 220).

The motion must be accompanied by a good-faith meet-and-confer declaration. CCP 2031.310(b). “A determination of whether an attempt at informal resolution is adequate . . . involves the exercise of discretion.” (Stewart v. Colonial W. Agency (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 1006, 1016). “The history of the litigation, the nature of the interaction between counsel, the nature of the issues, the type and scope of discovery requested, the prospects for success and other similar factors can be relevant. Judges have broad powers and responsibility to determine what measure and procedures are appropriate in varying circumstances.” Id.

CCP 2031.310 provides the court shall apposes monetary sanctions against a person, party, or attorney that unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel further response, unless that subject to sanction acted “with substantial justification or other circumstances make the imposition of sanctions unjust.” CCP 2023.010(h). The court “may impose a monetary sanction” against any attorney or party, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, if there has been a “misuse of the discovery process. CCP 2023.030(a). “A trial court has broad discretion when imposing a discovery sanction.” (Lee v. Lee (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 1553, 1559).

Procedural Matters:

Service:

Proofs of Service indicate that the parties served the documents via email.

Meet and Confer:

The Declarations of Christopher E. Gabriliuc and Brian S. Fong both indicate that the parties were meet and conferring regarding the issues. The emails indicate that the parties discussed the issues.

Separate Statement

Under Rule 3.1345, a Separate Statement must include the request, the response, and why a further response is provided. The Separate Statement contains this information.

ANALYSIS:

Procedural Issues:

Timely:

Under CCP 2030.300, a party has 45 days after service of the verified responses to file a motion to compel further. After the court order in December 2021, the parties agreed to extensions. On March 31, 2022, Defendant provided supplemental responses. Neither declaration states how service was accomplished.[1] The motion was filed on May 17, 2022. 45 days after March 31, 2022 is May 16, 2022. Additionally, Defendant’s Opposition was filed on July 27, 2022, but oppositions are required 9 court days before the hearing, which would have required the opposition to be filed on July 26, 2022.

Additionally, Defendant’s Opposition was filed on July 27, 2022, but oppositions are required 9 court days before the hearing, which would have required the opposition to be filed on July 26, 2022.

Discussion:

Plaintiff moves to compel further responses to the Requests for Production of Documents, Nos. 36, 49, 58, and modified Nos. 3, 5, 35, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67, 72.

Plaintiff initially contended that the responses provided were deficient and not code compliant. The responses did not indicate if the Defendant would comply in part or in whole, did not identify any documents to these requests, and asserted inappropriate privilege objected and stated that only non-privileged documents would be produced. Plaintiff argues that privilege does not apply, and Defendant did not provide a privilege log, as stated under CCP 2031.240(b)(J). Additionally, Plaintiff argues that good cause exists because these documents are relevant, and the court already ordered that code compliant responses be provided. Lastly, Plaintiff asserts that the objections are inappropriate. These documents are directly relevant to prove discriminatory animus; the attorney-client privilege does not apply as these requests do not seek any attorney-client communications; the requests are not overbroad as they are limited in scope; the requests are not vague as the requests are not unintelligible; and the privacy objection because these requests seek information about Plaintiff.

Defendant contends that the motion should be denied because responsive documents have been provided. The responses provided are compliant; Defendant indicated that documents that were nonprivileged and responsive in Defendant’s custody, possession or control would be provided. Responses were provided on February 11, 2022, and supplemental responses in March 2022. An excel sheet was provided on July 26, 2022, which indicated and identified the specific request the document responded to. As for the privilege objections, Defendant asserts that a privilege log has been provided. Lastly, Defendant asserts that no documents are being withheld because of any other objections.

In Reply, Plaintiff contends that supplemental responses do not comply with the December 29, 2021 court order. The search conducted by Defendant only included two individuals, Jake Wentz and Jeff Conder, but failed to include four other individuals involved in the decision to terminate Plaintiff. The ESI was deficient in so far as the search terms included words like “discrimination,” “harassment,” “retaliation,” which as Plaintiff argues, would unlikely be contained in email. Even searching Plaintiff’s name would unlikely produce emails that discussed replacing older managers with young leadership; the term “legacy” was used when discussing older employees. (Reply 4: 17 – 26). Moreover, Plaintiff argues that the meet and confer efforts regarding ESI were not done in good faith. Specifically, Defendant is refusing to search emails of other individuals, such as Joe Bongiovi – Vice President Human Resources, Matt Maimone – an individual who communicated via email about Plaintiff, Josh McMullough. (Reply 6: 7-10). The responses provided are evasive and not code compliant because Defendant did not indicate the reason as to why it is unable to comply or identify where the responsive documents exist, as required under CCP 2031.230. Lastly, the privilege log is inadequate. On July 26, 2022, Defendant provided a privilege log, but it was for a different case – Cedric Thompson v. Barton Brands of California, Inc., et al., and includes different bate stamps.

The Court agrees with Plaintiff. The responses were incomplete and inadequate and not code compliant. Moreover, if a synonym used for a prior court ordered search term is discovered to be used i.e. “legacy”, then it seems that a legitimate meet and confer, held in good faith, would add such a synonym without a further court order. In addition, adding creative, qualifying language to a code complaint response is not a code compliant response. A response is either code compliant or it is not. Lastly, the privilege logs must be sufficiently detailed to allow parties to evaluate the merits of the claim.[2]

Sanctions:

Under CCP 2023.030, the court can impose monetary sanctions for the misuse of discovery. Additionally, the court can also impose sanctions under CCP 2023.010. The Plaintiff’s Notice of Motion indicates that they are seeking monetary sanctions totaling $1,400 against Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Paul S. Cowie, Esq., Brian S. Fong, Esq., Peter Y. Lee, Esq., and Defendant, Barton Brands of California, Inc., jointly. This is based on an hourly rate of $350 based on 4 hours of work for this matter. As the Motion is untimely, the request for Sanctions is GRANTED.

Conclusion:

For the foregoing reasons, the Court decides the pending motion as follows:

Motion to Compel Further is GRANTED. Defendant is ordered to file code complaint responses without objection, other than privilege and then only with an appropriately detailed privilege log to comply with the code, within 30 days of this order.

Request for Sanctions is GRANTED in the amount of $1,400 payable by counsel and Defendant jointly within 30 days of service of this order.

.

Moving party is to give notice.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: August 8, 2022 Upinder S. Kalra

Judge of the Superior Court


[1]If service was accomplished electronically, service is extended by two court days to April 4, 2022. (CCP 1010.6(a)(4)(B).) May 19, 2022 is the 45th day after April 4, 2022.

[2] The court will excuse providing a privilege log for another case as a simple oversight.


[1]If service was accomplished electronically, service is extended by two court days to April 4, 2022. (CCP 1010.6(a)(4)(B).) May 19, 2022 is the 45th day after April 4, 2022.



b'

Case Number: *******4978 Hearing Date: November 24, 2021 Dept: 51

Background:

On July 2, 2020, Plaintiff Chris Stout filed this action against Defendants Barton Brands of California, Inc. (“Barton”), Sazerac North America, Inc., Sazerac Company, Inc. and Sazerac Distillers, LLC, for (1) discrimination, (2) failure to prevent discrimination and (3) wrongful termination. Plaintiff alleges that he was employed as a plant manager in Kentucky in March 2014 and was transferred to a facility in Carson in August 2016. His position in Kentucky was replaced by a person around 30 years old. Plaintiff alleges that he performed his job well and received positive evaluations and pay increases. He was given notice that he was being replaced on July 30, 2019. His last day of employment was September 30, 2019. He was 55 years old at the time of his termination and was replaced by someone who was approximately 30 years old. Plaintiff alleges that other positions were also replaced by people in their 20s and 30s such that Plaintiff believes he was discriminated against based on his age.

On September 24, 2021, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel Defendant Barton to serve further responses to requests for production sets one and two. On November 12, 2021, Barton filed an opposition generally arguing that Plaintiff’s requests for production are overbroad and/or infringe on privacy rights of other employees. On November 17, 2021, Plaintiff filed a reply.

On October 4, 2021, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel Barton to serve further responses to form interrogatories—employment, set one and special interrogatories, set two. On November 12, 2021, Barton filed an opposition declaration only. On November 17, 2021, Plaintiff filed a reply.

As a preliminary matter, the court overrules the parties’ procedural objections and will consider the motions on the merits. Accordingly, the court will consider Plaintiff’s separate statement even though it does not set forth all preliminary instructions and definitions. Further, the court will consider Barton’s late-filed opposition.

Analysis

Motion to Compel Further—RFPs

1. Granted as Framed

The court finds that the following requests are relevant and discoverable. All objections, except attorney-client communication and/or attorney work-product privilege objections are overruled. Defendant is ordered to serve further, complete responses that are code-compliant and produce documents to the following requests:

REQUEST NO. 36: All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Jeff Conder and Plaintiff from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 49: All DOCUMENTS, including COMMUNICATIONS, evidencing the criteria and/or preferences of DEFENDANT provided to DEFENDANT’S talent acquisition team for prospective employees from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 58: All DOCUMENTS constituting any complaint and/or notice of age discrimination, harassment, and/or wrongful termination, made to or against YOU relating to any of YOUR EMPLOYEES from 2015 to the present.

2. Granted as Modified by Court

The court finds that the following requests are overbroad, although the main subject matter of the requests are relevant. Accordingly, the court grants the motion as to the following requests, as modified. All objections, except attorney-client communication and/or attorney work-product privilege objections are overruled, as modified. Defendant is ordered to serve further, complete responses that are code-compliant and produce documents to the following requests, as modified by the court:

REQUEST NO. 3: All DOCUMENTS evidencing Plaintiff’s attendance record[s] while employed by DEFENDANT and/or describes the hours Plaintiff worked for DEFENDANT while he was employed by YOU including, but not limited to, timecards, computerized time sheets, time clock and/or punch clock records, records of hours worked, overtime and double-time records, meal and rest break records, and/or attendance records.

REQUEST NO. 5: All liability insurance policies that may and/or do cover YOU in this action, including but not limited, general liability, employment practices liability, declaration pages and the complete policy information pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure section 2017.210.

REQUEST NO. 35: All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Jeff Conder and any EMPLOYEE relating to Plaintiff’s job performance [from 2017 to present except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 43: All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Jeff Conder and any PERSON who participated in the decision to TERMINATE Plaintiff, that relates to the TERMINATION of Plaintiff’s employment and/or replacing Plaintiff [from 2017 to present except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 59: ALL DOCUMENTS constituting, referring to or PERTAINING TO any investigation YOU conducted because of any complaint or notice of age discrimination/ harassment/ retaliation/wrongful termination made to or against YOU relating to any of YOUR employees from 2015 to the present [except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 60: ALL DOCUMENTS that constitute, refer to or reflect all complaints ever received by YOU about Jake Wenz.

REQUEST NO. 61: ALL DOCUMENTS that constitute, refer to or reflect any and all investigations conducted by YOU arising out of or relating to any complaint ever received by YOU about Jake Wenz [except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 62: ALL DOCUMENTS that constitute, refer to or reflect all complaints ever received by YOU about Jeff Conder.

REQUEST NO. 63: ALL DOCUMENTS that constitute, refer to or reflect any and all investigations conducted by YOU arising out of or relating to any complaint ever received by YOU about Jeff Conder [except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 64: All DOCUMENTS relating to job experience requirements, including years of experience, for all jobs posted by YOU from 2017 to the present

REQUEST NO. 66: All DOCUMENTS pertaining to putting Plaintiff into a concern box while employed with YOU, including any concern box itself [except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 67: All DOCUMENTS relied upon in deciding to TERMINATE Plaintiff [except attorney-client communications and/or attorney work product].

REQUEST NO. 72: All applications and related DOCUMENTS submitted for the position for which Chris Reese was hired [but redact name, social security number, address, telephone number, email, other contact information, and financial information.]

3. Denied

The court finds that the following requests are overbroad and would necessarily require disclosure of private personnel information of third-parties who are not parties to this action.

California’s Constitutional right to privacy protects against the unwarranted, compelled disclosure of various private or sensitive information regarding one’s personal life. Britt v. Superior Court (1978) 20 Cal.3d 844, 855-856. When privacy rights are implicated, the broad sweep of discovery is significantly narrowed, such that information can be discovered on a showing of a particularized need by the party seeking discovery, and by demonstrating that the discovery sought is directly relevant to a claim or defense, and that there is no less intrusive alternative. Id. at 844 [emphasis added]. “Mere speculation as to the possibility that some portion of the records might be relevant to some substantive issue does not suffice” for showing direct relevance as to private information sought in discovery. Davis v. Superior Court (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1008, 1017-1020 [directing trial court to grant motion to quash as to discovery request that as not narrowly drawn to enable the court to evaluate the appropriate extent of disclosure]. If the court determines that the records are directly relevant to the action, it must carefully balance the need for discovery against the right of privacy. Id. at 525. The party seeking the discovery must show that the information cannot be obtained through depositions or non-confidential sources, and if discovery is allowed it must be minimally intrusive. Harding Lawson Assocs. v. Superior Court (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1008, 1014. Whenever possible, judges should consider the possibility of a protective order limiting the intrusion or disclosure, for assuaging privacy concerns. Alch v. Superior Court (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 1412, 1432.

Under this standard, the court finds that Plaintiff has not narrowly tailored the requests to only the information that is directly relevant to Plaintiff’s claims and/or establish that no other less intrusive alternative means are available to obtain the information Plaintiff seeks (e.g., narrowly tailored special interrogatories that only ask for the information Plaintiff requires and/or deposition questions). As such, the court finds that these requests constitute “[m]ere speculation as to the possibility that some portion of the records might be relevant to some substantive issue.” The motion is, therefore, denied as to these requests:

REQUEST NO. 37: All DOCUMENTS, including notes, related to any meeting where EMPLOYEES discussed the hiring and/or firing of any PERSON or group of people from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 38: All DOCUMENTS evidencing, consisting of, or relating to the recruiting strategies and/or the recruitment process of DEFENDANT from 2016 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 41: All resumes of applicants for job positions at YOUR company submitted to YOU in the past five years.

REQUEST NO. 42: All applications of applicants for job positions at YOUR company submitted to YOU in the past five years.

REQUEST NO. 47:

All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Jake Wentz and

Michelle Jurkus from 2017 to the present relating to DEFENDANT’S hiring practices.

REQUEST NO. 48:

All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Jake Wentz and

any member of the talent and acquisition team for DEFENDANT from 2017 to the present relating to DEFENDANT’S hiring practices.

REQUEST NO. 50:

YOUR entire LinkedIn data available for download, believed to be acquired by going on YOUR linked in home page, clicking me in the top toolbar, choosing settings & privacy from the drop-down menu, scrolling down and clicking on “getting a copy of your data” and choosing a full download. When YOU receive the email from LinkedIn, follow the instructions to download YOUR data files.

REQUEST NO. 51:

All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Joe Bongiovi and any member of DEFENDANT’S talent and acquisition team from 2017 to the present relating to hiring new employees.

REQUEST NO. 52:

All COMMUNICATIONS sent from, and received by, Jennifer Burton, relating to DEFENDANT hiring new employees, from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 53:

All COMMUNICATIONS sent from, and received by, Michelle Jurkus, relating to DEFENDANT hiring new employees, from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 54:

All COMMUNICATIONS sent from, and received by, Joe Bongiovi, relating to

DEFENDANT hiring new employees, from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 55:

All COMMUNICATIONS sent from, and received by, Andrea Madison, relating to

DEFENDANT hiring employees, from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 65: All DOCUMENTS relating to the managerial training program Defendant had from 2017 to the present.

REQUEST NO. 68: All DOCUMENTS, including notes, emails, and memos, created by or received by Michelle Jurkus regarding the hiring of new employees and/or any applicant.

REQUEST NO. 69: All COMMUNICATIONS with applicants for employment with YOU within the past five years.

REQUEST NO. 71: All DOCUMENTS consisting of, evidencing, or related to rejected applications for employment with YOU.

The court also denies the motion as to the following requests as being duplicative of a request for which the court has already allowed discovery above:

REQUEST NO. 44: All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Jake Wenz and any PERSON who participated in the decision to TERMINATE Plaintiff, that relates to the TERMINATION of Plaintiff’s employment and/or replacing Plaintiff.

REQUEST NO. 45: All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Joe Bongiovi and any PERSON who participated in the decision to TERMINATE Plaintiff, that relates to the TERMINATION of Plaintiff’s employment and/or replacing Plaintiff.

REQUEST NO. 46: All COMMUNICATIONS, including DOCUMENTS exchanged, between Andrea Matison and any PERSON who participated in the decision to TERMINATE Plaintiff, that relates to the TERMINATION of Plaintiff’s employment and/or replacing Plaintiff.

Motion to Compel Further—Interrogatories

1. Grant as Framed

The court finds that responses to following interrogatories are discoverable and relevant. All objections except attorney-client and/or attorney work-product privilege objections, are overruled. The motion is granted as to these interrogatories. Defendant is ordered to serve further, code-compliant responses to these interrogatories:

FORM INTERROGATORY 209.2: Except for this action, in the past 10 years has any employee filed a civil action against the EMPLOYER regarding his or her employment? If so, for each civil action: (a) State the name, ADDRESS, and telephone number of each employee who filed the action; (b) State the court, names of the parties, and case number of the civil action; (c) State the name, ADDRESS, and telephone number of any attorney representing the EMPLOYER; and (d) State whether the action has been resolved or is pending.

FORM INTERROGATORY NO. 211.1: Identify each type of BENEFIT to which the EMPLOYEE would have been entitled, from the date of the ADVERSE EMPLOYMENT ACTION to the present, if the ADVERSE EMPLOYMENT ACTION had not happened and the EMPLOYEE had remained in the same job position. For each type of benefit, state the amount the EMPLOYER would have paid to provide the benefit for the EMPLOYEE during this time period and the value of the BENEFIT to the EMPLOYEE.

FORM INTERROGATORY NO. 214.1: At the time of the ADVERSE EMPLOYMENT ACTION, was there in effect any policy of insurance through which you were or might be insured in any manner for the damages, claims, or actions that have arisen out of the ADVERSE EMPLOYMENT ACTION? If so, for each policy state: (a) the kind of coverage; (b) the name and ADDRESS of the insurance company; (c) the name, ADDRESS, and telephone number of each named insured; (d) the policy number; (e) the limits of coverage for each type of coverage contained in the policy; (f) whether any reservation of rights or controversy or coverage dispute exists between you and the insurance company; and (g) the name, ADDRESS, and telephone number of the custodian of the policy.

FORM INTERROGATORY NO. 216.1: Identify each denial of a material allegation and each special or affirmative defense in your PLEADINGS and for each: (a) state all facts upon which you base the denial or special or affirmative defense; (b) state the names, ADDRESSES, and telephone numbers of all PERSONS who have knowledge of those facts; and (c) identify all DOCUMENTS and all other tangible things, that support your denial or special or affirmative defense, and state the name, ADDRESS, and telephone number of the PERSON who has each DOCUMENT.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 18: Please state the average age (the mean) of YOUR EMPLOYEES for each year for the past five years.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 19: Please state the average age (the mean) of all YOUR newly hired EMPLOYEES for each year for the past five years.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 22: Please state how many EMPLOYEES YOU have hired over the age of 40 years old at the time they were hired in the past five years.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 28: Please FULLY EXPLAIN how Defendant’s “concern box” relates to an employee’s performance and how the concern box works and/or is used by Defendant.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 31: Please FULLY EXPLAIN how the Intranet Plan rating system involving Plaintiff works (Stout v. Barton Brands Batestamps 00024 – 00060) including what each number/rating signified and/or means.

2. Grant as Modified by Court

The court finds that the following interrogatories are overbroad, although the main subject matter of the interrogatories are relevant. Accordingly, the court grants the motion as to the following interrogatories, as modified. All objections, except attorney-client communication and/or attorney work-product privilege objections are overruled, as modified. Defendant is ordered to serve further, complete responses that are code-compliant to the following interrogatories, as modified by the court:

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 10: Please IDENTIFY all [the number of] EMPLOYEES YOU TERMINATED from 2016 to the present [over the age of 40] at YOUR Carson, California location.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 11: Of the number of For each EMPLOYEE[s] identified in response to special interrogatory number 10, please [IDENTIFY the number of EMPLOYEES who were replaced by someone under the age of 40.]

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 12: For each EMPLOYEE identified in response to special interrogatory number [11, who replaced an EMPLOYEE over 40], please [describe their qualifications]. IDENTIFY each PERSON who replaced them and each subsequent replacement, if any.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 13: [State the number of promotions available in YOUR company from 2016 to present and each job title available for promotion at YOUR Carson, California location.] Please IDENTIFY each EMPLOYEE who was promoted within YOUR company from 2016 to the present.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 14: [For each position available for promotion] EMPLOYEE identified in response to special interrogatory number 13, please state [the age of the person who received each promotion and their qualifications.] the job title they wee promoted to.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 15: Please IDENTIFY all [job titles that YOU were hiring for from 2016 to present at YOUR Carson, California location.] EMPLOYEES YOU hired from 2016 to the present.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 16: For each [job title] EMPLOYEE identified in response to special interrogatory number 15, please state [the age of the person who received each job and their qualifications and the age and qualifications of the person they replaced and whether the person who was replaced left voluntarily or was fired] the date on which each EMPLOYEE was hired.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 32: Please [state the number of people over forty versus under forty] IDENTIFY each PERSON who was placed in DEFENDANT’S “concern box” for the past five years [at your Carson, California location.]

3. Denied as Overbroad or Duplicative

For the same privacy reasons that the court states above, the court denies the motion as to the following interrogatories. The court finds that Plaintiff has failed to narrowly tailor these interrogatories to only directly relevant information and/or establish that no other less intrusive means exist to obtain the directly relevant information that Plaintiff seeks.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 17: For each PERSON identified in response to special interrogatory number 15, please IDENTIFY the EMPLOYEE and/or PERSON they replaced.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 21: Please FULLY EXPLAIN in detail how YOU recruit potential employees, including what websites and/or agencies YOU use in recruiting new employees.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 24: Please IDENTIFY each PERSON who applied for a job with YOU in the past four years.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 25: For each EMPLOYEE identified in response to special interrogatory number 24, please IDENTIFY each PERSON who applied for a position at YOUR Carson, California location.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 30: Please IDENTIFY all PERSONS who were involved in creating, developing, and/or deciding the hiring practices of DEFENDANT for the past five years.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO 33: Please IDENTIFY each PERSON whose application for employment with you was rejected within the past five years.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORY NO. 34: Please IDENTIFY all applicants for the position Chris Reese was hired.

Sanctions

The court declines imposing sanctions on these motions. While some of Plaintiff’s questions were discoverable, most of the questions were overbroad, as framed, such that there was some justification for Defendant’s objections. The court finds that both parties had some merit to their positions such that sanctions are not warranted at this time.

Conclusion

Plaintiff’s Motions are GRANTED in PART and DENIED in PART as set forth above. Defendant is ordered to serve any further responses/produce documents within the next 30 days.

Plaintiff to give notice.

Dated:

__________________________________________

Dennis Landin

Superior Court Judge

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