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Does v. Boy Scouts of America

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 1, 2017

JOHN DOES I-XIX, and JOHN ELLIOTT, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, a congressionally chartered corporation authorized to do business in Idaho; CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, a foreign corporation sole registered to do business in Idaho; and CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS AND SUCCESSORS, a foreign corporation registered to business in Idaho, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. LYNN WINMILL CHIEF JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         The Court has before it Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel (Dkt. 174). The Motion is fully briefed and the Court heard oral argument on June 27, 2017. The parties completed supplemental briefing on August 18, 2017. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the Motion to Compel.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b), as amended effective December 1, 2015, provides that:

[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.

         This change to Rule 26(b) brings proportionality to the forefront in defining the appropriate scope of discovery. However, as explained in the Advisory Committee's note, the 2015 amendment was merely intended to codify principles that have long been implicit in this analysis:

This change reinforces the obligation of the parties to consider these [proportionality] factors in making discovery requests, responses or objections. Restoring the proportionality calculation to Rule 26(b)(1) does not change the existing responsibilities of the court and the parties to consider proportionality, and the change does not place on the party seeking discovery the burden of addressing all proportionality considerations.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b) advisory committee's note to 2015 amendment (emphasis added); see also Dao v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston, No. 14-CV-04749-SI (EDL), 2016 WL 796095, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 23, 2016) (“[W]hile the language of the Rule has changed, the amended rule does not actually place a greater burden on the parties with respect to their discovery obligations, including the obligation to consider proportionality, than did the previous version of the Rule.”); Vaigasi v. Solow Mgmt. Corp., No. 11-CV-5088, 2016 WL 616386, at *13 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 16, 2016) (“[T]he 2015 Amendments constitute a reemphasis on the importance of proportionality in discovery but not a substantive change in the law.”).[1]

         Pursuant to Rule 37, a party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling production by a party who has failed to answer an interrogatory or produce requested documents. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3). While the moving party must make a threshold showing of relevance, see, e.g., Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 352 (1978), the party resisting discovery carries the “heavy burden” of showing specifically why the discovery request is irrelevant, unduly burdensome, disproportional to the needs of the case, or otherwise improper. See Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d 418, 429 (9th Cir. 1975).

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiffs seek an order compelling BSA to produce: (1) Ineligible Volunteer Files (“IV Files”); (2) documents related to Dr. Finkelhor's 2006 proposal to study BSA's IV files; (3) complaints, petitions, and demand letters containing allegations of child sexual abuse; (4) deposition testimony from other cases. The Court considers each request in turn.

         1. Ineligible Volunteer Files

         Plaintiffs' Request for Production No. 1 seeks “all existing Ineligible Volunteer (‘IV') Files, including but not limited to the ‘Perversion' files, that document allegations that a Scout leader committed child sexual abuse.” See Dumas Decl., Ex. 1 at 4, Dkt. 175-1. BSA argued that the documents are irrelevant, as they go to BSA's state of mind, an element not required in a constructive fraud claim. BSA argues that at minimum, the Court should: (1) limit the production to years 1969 to 1982, the span of the alleged abuse at issue here; (2) limit the geographic scope to Idaho; and (3) subject any files to the parties' stipulated protective order and limited redactions.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court orders BSA to produce a clean copy of the pre-1982 IV files, as well as IV files created after 1982 that document abuse occurring through 1982. BSA is not ordered to produce post-1982 IV files that document post-1982 abuse, subject to a stipulation that they will not introduce or argue evidence of post-1982 remedial changes to their Youth Protection efforts. The production of IV files is subject to the protective order already entered in this case (Dkt. 149) and to redaction of the name(s) of any alleged child victim, the parent(s) of any alleged child victim, and any third-party witnesses.

         A. Relevancy

         Plaintiffs assert a single claim for constructive fraud against BSA and the LDS Church. See Third Am. Compl. at 30, Dkt. 91. “Constructive fraud is a breach of legal or equitable duty which, irrespective of the moral guilt of the fraud feasor, the law declares fraudulent because of its tendency to deceive others, to violate public or private confidence, or to injure public interests.” McGhee v. McGhee, 353 P.2d 760, 762 (Idaho 1960) (quoting 37 C.J.S. Fraud § 2, p. 211). “Constructive fraud usually arises from a breach of duty where a relation of trust and confidence exists; such relationship may be said to exist whenever trust or confidence is reposed by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another.” Id.

         The elements of a constructive fraud claim are similar to the elements for actual fraud. Actual fraud requires proof of: “(1) a statement or a representation of fact; (2) its falsity; (3) its materiality; (4) the speaker's knowledge of its falsity; (5) the speaker's intent that there be reliance; (6) the hearer's ignorance of the falsity of the statement; (7) reliance by the hearer; (8) justifiable reliance; and (9) resultant injury.” Gray v. Tri-Way Constr. Servs., 210 P.3d 63, 71 (Idaho 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Constructive fraud requires a plaintiff to establish the existence of a relationship of trust or confidence, but the plaintiff is not required to prove (4) the speaker's knowledge of the falsity, or (5) the speaker's intent that there be reliance. Id.

         Here, Plaintiffs argue the IV files are relevant to: (1) BSA's state of mind; (2) the falsity of BSA's representations that Scouting was safe; and (3) Plaintiffs' ignorance of that falsity. The Court disagrees that evidence of BSA's state of mind is relevant to the claim of constructive fraud. Plaintiffs concede they are not required to introduce evidence of BSA's knowledge of falsity and intent, but nonetheless assert that they should be allowed to introduce such evidence. Plaintiffs provide no support for this contention and the Court sees none. Despite being similar in many respects, a constructive fraud claim and an actual fraud claim are two distinct causes of action. Evidence of BSA's mental state is of no consequence in establishing a claim for constructive fraud. Moreover, the Court denied Plaintiffs' request to add a cause of action for actual fraud. See Order, Dkt. 119. Thus, Plaintiffs will not be permitted to prove fraud through direct means. The IV files are therefore not relevant on the ground that they will help establish BSA's state of mind.

         The contents of the IV files also appear irrelevant to Plaintiffs' ignorance of the falsity of BSA's representations. Measures taken to cover up the existence of the IV files may be relevant in this regard, but Plaintiffs fail to explain how the IV files themselves will demonstrate ...


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