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Puerto v. Superior Court

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Seven

January 15, 2008, Filed

B199631

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Petitioner employees challenged an order from respondent Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which, in a suit alleging wage and hour violations, partially granted the employees' motion to compel real party in interest employer to provide the addresses and telephone numbers of individuals identified as potential witnesses but required the employees to seek the witnesses' consent to such disclosure by means of an opt-in procedure.

Overview

The employer responded to an interrogatory by providing a list of names of potential witnesses. The employees filed a motion to compel further responses, seeking addresses and telephone numbers. The trial court determined that the potential witnesses had a reasonable expectation of privacy in their addresses and telephone numbers and that an opt-in notification system was required. The court stated that the identification of potential witnesses was within the scope of proper discovery under Code Civ. Proc., § 2017.010. Although the potential witnesses, who also worked for the employer, had a legitimate expectation that their addresses and telephone numbers would not be disclosed, it was reasonable to conclude that they might want to share this information with coworkers who sought relief for violations of employment laws. The requested information, while personal, was not particularly sensitive, and there were no unusual circumstances suggesting that the information should be restricted. Thus, disclosure of the requested addresses and telephone numbers would not significantly intrude upon the potential witnesses' right to privacy under Cal. Const., art. I, § 1.

Outcome

The court issued a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate the challenged order and to enter a new order directing the disclosure of contact information for the individuals identified in response to the interrogatory.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Civil Procedure > Discovery & Disclosure > Discovery > Relevance of Discoverable Information

HN1  Relevance of Discoverable Information

Code Civ. Proc., § 2017.010, provides that unless the court imposes limits, any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action or to the determination of any motion made in that action, if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The scope of discovery is very broad, and it includes the right to obtain the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter.

 

Civil Procedure > Discovery & Disclosure > Discovery > Relevance of Discoverable Information

HN2  Relevance of Discoverable Information

The expansive scope of discovery is a deliberate attempt to take the game element out of trial preparation and to do away with the sporting theory of litigation--namely, surprise at the trial. One key legislative purpose of the discovery statutes is to educate the parties concerning their claims and defenses so as to encourage settlements and to expedite and facilitate trial. The discovery procedures are also designed to minimize the opportunities for fabrication and forgetfulness. Consistent with these purposes, discovery statutes are to be construed broadly in favor of disclosure, so as to uphold the right to discovery whenever possible. Matters sought are properly discoverable if they will aid in a party's preparation for trial.

 

Civil Procedure > Discovery & Disclosure > Discovery > Relevance of Discoverable Information

HN3  Relevance of Discoverable Information

Central to the discovery process is the identification of potential witnesses. The disclosure of the names and addresses of potential witnesses is a routine and essential part of pretrial discovery.

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158 Cal. App. 4th 1242 ; 70 Cal. Rptr. 3d 701 ; 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 48 

JASON PUERTO et al., Petitioners, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; WILD OATS MARKETS, INC., Real Party in Interest.

Subsequent History: Decision reached on appeal by Schreck v. Wild Oats Mkts., Inc., 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1142 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., Feb. 19, 2014)

Prior History:  [1] Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC359723, Ronald M. Sohigian, Judge.