In Pavlovich v. Account Discovery Services, 2017 WL 5903354, at *3 (S.D.Cal., 2017), Magistrate Crawford found that an FDCPA Class Action Plaintiff was entitled to net worth discovery despite the fact that class certification had not yet been decided.
The Court finds that plaintiff is entitled to financial information regarding defendant, DNF’s, financial net worth in 2015, 2016, and at present. The Court disagrees with defendant that the pending Motion to Dismiss stays defendant’s discovery obligations. While a stay of discovery might be appropriate if the “complaint [were] utterly frivolous, or filed merely for settlement value [,] [s]uch does not appear to be the case here.” See Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. v. Tracinda Corp., 175 F.3d 554, 555-56 (D. Nev. 1997). Courts have broad discretionary power to control discovery, including the decision to allow or deny discovery. See Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988). In sum, discovery shall proceed despite defendant’s pending Motion to Dismiss. Defendant cites to a single case, Marshall v. Bonded Adjustment Co., in support of its argument that DNF’s net worth is not relevant for purposes of class certification. The Marshall court entered a protective order “precluding discovery of information regarding [defendant’s] net worth unless and until a class is certified.” Marshall, 2011 WL at *2. Notably, the only two subsequent cases that cite to Marshall disagreed, and found such financial information relevant for purposes of class certification and discoverable before a motion for class certification is granted. See Nall v. Allied Interstate, LLC, 2015 WL 6529233 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 27, 2015); Green v. Monarch Recovery Management, Inc., 997 F.Supp.2d 932, 935 (S.D. Ind. 2014) (“While this court is mindful of the ruling in Marshall denying discovery of net worth, this case appears to be an anomaly on the issue of relevancy of net worth.”). The Green court further noted that where a protective order is already in place to protect “any truly sensitive information”, a plaintiff is entitled to discovery regarding a defendant’s net worth. Green, at 995. Moreover, courts in this District have held, upon a similar review of existing caselaw, that “[i]t is clear that net worth is a relevant area of inquiry in FDCPA class actions even before a class is certified.” Hill v. Asset Acceptance, LLC, 2014 WL 3014945, at *13 (S.D. Cal. July 3, 2014). This Court agrees that DNF’s financial net worth is within the scope of discovery for purposes of class certification. DNF is thus required to answer discovery on this issue.