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Adhi Parasakthi Charitable, Medical, Educational, and Cultural Society of North America v. Township of West Pikeland

January 13, 2010

ADHI PARASAKTHI CHARITABLE, MEDICAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND CULTURAL SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF WEST PIKELAND, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This case is now before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for a Protective Order and to Quash Nine Subpoenas Issued by Defendant (Doc. No. 29), Defendant's Motion to Enforce Subpoenas (Doc. No. 30), and Defendant's Motion to Overrule Objections and Compel Additional Discovery Responses (Doc. No. 28). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order and to Quash Subpoenas is DENIED, Defendant's Motion to Enforce Subpoenas is DENIED, and Defendant's Motion to Overrule Objections and Compel Additional Discovery Responses is GRANTED.

Factual Background

This case was filed on April 17, 2009. The Rule 16 Conference was held on June 24, 2009, and at that time, this Court entered a scheduling order that required all discovery to be completed by October 26, 2009. On October 19, 2009, this Court granted an additional 60 days for discovery, which expired on December 26, 2009.

The parties have two main areas of dispute. The first is over nine subpoenas duces tecum issued by Defendant, requesting the presence of members of Plaintiff's Executive Committee for depositions. The second is Plaintiff's response to Defendant's first set of interrogatories and requests for documents.

Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Protective Order and to Quash Nine Subpoenas Issued by Defendant (Doc. No. 29), and Defendant has filed a Response to this Motion (Doc. No. 33). In this Motion, Plaintiff states that eight of the nine individuals subpoenaed live outside of this Court's jurisdiction and more than 100 miles from this courthouse, and, therefore, are beyond the reach of a subpoena issuing from this Court. Although it does not provide addresses for the individuals, Plaintiff states that one lives in Texas, one in Virginia, four in New York, one in Wisconsin, one in Maryland, and one in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff also maintains that the subpoenas duces tecum- requesting any and all documents relating to Plaintiff's commencing litigation against Defendant and relating to a specific property in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania-place an undue burden on these witnesses. It claims that the information sought is not relevant to the litigation, that Defendant is trying to force these witnesses to travel a long distance with these documents, and that all of this information is available to Defendant through other sources.

Defendant has filed a Motion to Enforce Subpoenas (Doc. No. 30), and Plaintiff has filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. No. 34). Defendant claims that all nine of the people who it is seeking to depose were identified by Plaintiff as potential witnesses in its answer to Defendant's interrogatories. Defendant maintains that it does not intend to depose witnesses who reside over 100 miles from this courthouse, but states that, to this date, the only address that it has for these witnesses is the one provided by Plaintiff in its answer to Defendant's interrogatories: a P.O. box in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, a town approximately 20 miles northwest of this courthouse. Defendant further notes that it did not demand that the witnesses appear for deposition in Philadelphia, but offered several locations from which the witnesses could choose to attend.

In addition to seeking discovery through depositions, Defendant submitted its First Requests for Production of Documents and its First Set of Interrogatories to Plaintiff on July 28, 2009. Plaintiff submitted its answers on December 2, 2009, objecting to many of the questions and not providing any documents. Defendant requests that this Court overrule these objections and compel Plaintiff to respond (Doc. No. 28).

Plaintiff's objections can be grouped into three major categories. First, Plaintiff makes a blanket objection to 12 of the interrogatories with the statement "Objection, relevance, overbroad, over burdensome and not calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Second, Plaintiff refused to answer Interrogatories 21 through 25 on the grounds that, due to the subparts contained in Interrogatory 20, these questions are beyond the number of interrogatories allowed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33. Third, Plaintiff has, to this point, refused to provide any documents because it asserts that all documents that actually do exist are already in the possession of Defendant following a Zoning Board meeting.

Defendant asks us to overrule all of these objections, and also to compel more satisfactory responses to several questions that were not responsively answered. Defendant claims that not only are all of these objections without legal merit, but also that these objections are not supported by the facts of this case. In response to the document requests, for example, Defendant points to testimony given at a December 18th deposition, in which one of Plaintiff's witnesses stated that Plaintiff never looked for any of the documents requested by Defendant, and that e-mails were exchanged that are responsive to Defendant's discovery request. (Reply Br. of W. Pikeland Twp. in Further Supp. of Mot. to Overrule Pl.'s Dec. 2, 2009 Objections and Compel Appropriate Disc. Resps. at 2-3.) Defendant urges this Court to use this testimony as grounds for doubting Plaintiff's statements that certain documents do not exist or that Plaintiff has already provided all responsive documents.

Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) allows parties to conduct discovery "regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." The purpose for allowing such broad discovery is to allow the parties to prepare for trial. Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 34 (1984). Included among the methods permitted for discovery are oral deposition, Fed. R. Civ. P. 30, interrogatories, Fed. R. Civ. P. 33, and requests for the production of documents, Fed. R. Civ. P. 34. If a party fails to respond or provides an evasive or incomplete response to proper discovery requests, the court where the action is pending has the authority to issue an order compelling a response. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)-(4).

Discussion

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