A protective order in California regarding production of documents is the topic of this blog post. A motion for a protective order for requests for production of documents in California is filed pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.060 and is used in various situations including situations where the requested documents are clearly not relevant to any claim or defense involved in the action and thus are unduly burdensome and oppressive, and that the responding party will suffer unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden and expense if a protective order is not issued.
Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.060 states in pertinent part that,
“(a) When an inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of documents, tangible things, places, or electronically stored information has been demanded, the party to whom the demand has been directed, and any other party or affected person, may promptly move for a protective order. This motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.
(b) The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party or other person from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense. This protective order may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following directions:
(1) That all or some of the items or categories of items in the demand need not be produced or made available at all.
(2) That the time specified in Section 2030.260 to respond to the set of demands, or to a particular item or category in the set, be extended.
(3) That the place of production be other than that specified in the demand.
(4) That the inspection, copying, testing, or sampling be made only on specified terms and conditions.
(5) That a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed, or be disclosed only to specified persons or only in a specified way.
(6) That the items produced be sealed and thereafter opened only on order of the court.
(c) The party or affected person who seeks a protective order regarding the production, inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of electronically stored information on the basis that the information is from a source that is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or expense shall bear the burden of demonstrating that the information is from a source that is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or expense.
(d) If the party or affected person from whom discovery of electronically stored information is sought establishes that the information is from a source that is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or expense, the court may nonetheless order discovery if the demanding party shows good cause, subject to any limitations imposed under subdivision (f).
(e) If the court finds good cause for the production of electronically stored information from a source that is not reasonably accessible, the court may set conditions for the discovery of the electronically stored information, including allocation of the expense of discovery.
(f) The court shall limit the frequency or extent of discovery of electronically stored information, even from a source that is reasonably accessible, if the court determines that any of the following conditions exist:
(1) It is possible to obtain the information from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive.
(2) The discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative.
(3) The party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought.
(4) The likely burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs the likely benefit, taking into account the amount in controversy, the resources of the parties, the importance of the issues in the litigation, and the importance of the requested discovery in resolving the issues.
(g) If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may order that the party to whom the demand was directed provide or permit the discovery against which protection was sought on terms and conditions that are just.
(h) Except as provided in subdivision (i), the court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion for a protective order, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”
It should be noted that sanctions may be imposed against the losing party on any motion for a protective order.
Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.060(h) states that, “Except as provided in subdivision (i), the court shall impose a monetary sanction under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 2023.010) against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion for a protective order, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”
The California Supreme Court has ruled that the burden is on the party seeking a protective order to show good cause for the protective order. The moving party must show good cause for the requested order and must do the following to be entitled to a protective order.
They must promptly move for a protective order.
They must comply with the meet and confer requirement.
They must also meet their burden of showing that the requests for production of documents clearly do not relate to any claim or defense that is at issue in the case and are unduly burdensome and oppressive.
Discovery may relate to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or of any other party to the action. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2017.010. Therefore California law has established a relevancy standard.
A California Court of Appeal has stated that any party served with discovery requests that fail to meet the relevancy standard may move for a protective order on the grounds that the discovery requests are unduly burdensome and oppressive.
Attorneys or parties in California who would like to view a portion of a sample 16 page motion for protective order regarding requests for production of documents containing brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.
The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995.
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The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.