Liu et al v. Win Woo Trading, LLC et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2014-cv-02639

ORDER by Judge Kandis A. Westmore regarding {{107}}, {{99}} Discovery Letter Brief re: Requests for Admission. Safety Trucking is ordered to serve supplemental responses by 2/19/2016. (kawlc1, COURT STAFF)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 KUANG XUAN LIU, et al., 7 Case No. 14-cv-02639-KAW Plaintiffs, 8 ORDER REGARDING 1/22/16 JOINT v. LETTER - REQUESTS FOR 9 ADMISSION WIN WOO TRADING, LLC, et al., 10 Re: Dkt. Nos. 99, 107 Defendants. 11 12 On January 15, 2016, Plaintiffs and Defendants Safety Trucking, LLC and Jiatun Zheng Northern District of California United States District Court 13 filed a joint letter regarding requests for admission propounded by Plaintiffs to Safety Trucking. 14 (Dkt. No. 99.) That same date, the parties filed two additional joint letters that addressed other 15 discovery devices. 16 At the January 19, 2016 case management conference, the Court ordered the parties to 17 meet and confer and submit amended joint letters with the requests and responses attached as 18 exhibits. (1/19/16 Am. Minute Entry, Dkt. No. 112.) 19 On January 22, 2016, the parties submitted an amended joint letter, in which Plaintiff seeks 20 an order compelling Safety Trucking's supplemental responses to Requests for Admission Nos. 7, 21 8, and 11-14. (Joint Letter, Dkt. No. 107.) 22 There are three possible responses to requests for admission: admit, deny, or the 23 responding party lacks sufficient information to admit or deny. Additionally, Federal Rule of 24 Civil Procedure 36 requires that If a matter is not admitted, the answer must specifically deny it or 25 state in detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny it. A denial must fairly respond to the substance of the matter; 26 and when good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of a matter, the answer must specify the part admitted 27 and qualify or deny the rest. The answering party may assert lack of knowledge or information as a reason for failing to admit or deny 28 only if the party states that it has made reasonable inquiry and that the information it knows or can readily obtain is 1 insufficient to enable it to admit or deny. 2 Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4)(emphasis added). In answering, a party must conduct a reasonable 3 inquiry from persons and documents within the responding party's relative control. Despite this 4 obligation, Safety Trucking failed to properly respond to any of the requests at issue. 5 Perhaps more troubling, Defendants appear to confuse Safety Trucking's corporate 6 knowledge—which includes the collective knowledge of all of its employees, agents, and counsel, 7 including Jiatun Zheng, as well as information contained in its records— with Jiatun Zheng's 8 individual knowledge. For example, Request No. 21 asks Safety Trucking to admit that a certain 9 document is genuine. (Joint Letter at 3.) In response, Safety Trucking denied the request because 10 Jiatun Zheng was unable to verify that the original of the copy produced was genuine. Id. In the 11 joint letter, Defendants elaborated that Jiatun Zheng could not verify the document, because he 12 does not speak, read, or write English. Id. This is wholly insufficient, as Safety Trucking had an Northern District of California United States District Court 13 obligation to conduct a reasonable inquiry that was clearly not undertaken. Since corporate 14 knowledge is greater than that of an individual, Mr. Zheng's willingness to undergo deposition 15 does not excuse Safety Trucking from fully responding to Plaintiffs' written discovery. 16 In addition, it has been brought to the Court's attention that Jia Jing Zheng, who is 17 affiliated with Win Woo, may have signed checks drawn on Safety Trucking's corporate bank 18 account, and may be a signatory on that account. (See Decl. of X. Young Lai, Dkt. No. 109-1 ¶ 6.) 19 If true, facts known to Jia Jing Zheng, and possibly other Win Woo defendants, may constitute 20 Safety Trucking's corporate knowledge necessary to respond to some of the requests for 21 admission at issue. The Court is concerned that the representations made by counsel that the two 22 corporate entities are completely separate may be false. If so, the Court may impose sanctions sua 23 sponte against any party that has made false representations to the court, including any made in the 24 filing of a dispositive motion. The sanctions may be monetary or terminating in nature. 25 Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' request to compel supplemental responses to 26 Requests for Admission Nos. 7, 8, and 11-14. Safety Trucking shall serve amended responses on 27 or before February 19, 2016. The Court declines to impose sanctions on Defendants at this 28 juncture. Instead, the undersigned will consider whether sanctions are appropriate in connection 2 1 with Plaintiffs' pending motion for sanctions. (See Dkt. No. 128.) 2 IT IS SO ORDERED. 3 Dated: February 16, 2016 __________________________________ 4 KANDIS A. WESTMORE 5 United States Magistrate Judge 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3