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Universal Delaware, Inc. v. Comdata Corp.

June 4, 2010

UNIVERSAL DELAWARE, INC., ET AL., ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COMDATA CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry S. Perkin United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM

Presently before this Court is the Motion by Defendant Ceridian Corporation ("Ceridian") for Protective Order Regarding Plaintiffs' Discovery (Dkt. No. 209). Ceridian seeks a protective order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), protecting it and non-party UCLA Office of Record Management from compliance with a subpoena duces tecum served upon non-party UCLA Office of Record Management ("UCLA subpoena") for documents and information relating to the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce IndexTM ("PCI") which is maintained by the UCLA Anderson School of Management ("UCLA Anderson"). For the reasons stated hereafter, the Motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND.

Ceridian is a partner with UCLA Anderson in a joint venture which was first launched in February, 2010 and involves the creation and public roll-out of the PCI.*fn1 The PCI is an economic indicator that relies on data regarding changes over time in the volume of diesel fuel purchases by long-haul trucks, broken down through regions throughout the United States. Mem. Law in Supp. Mot., p. 2 (citing http://www.ceridianindex.com/). Defendant Comdata Corporation ("Comdata"), a subsidiary of Ceridian, "offers the Comdata card and other electronic card payment services to transportation industries that, when used, capture transaction data about diesel fuel purchases." Id. The PCI uses this fuel consumption data to make certain predictions about the state of the economy. Id.

Plaintiffs served PCI-related discovery on Ceridian and Comdata on March 4, 2010. Plaintiffs specifically raised the issue of discovery regarding the PCI during a telephone conference with Ceridian on March 5, but Ceridian's counsel did not want to discuss the issue and did not confer thereafter with Plaintiffs' counsel to resolve any concerns of Ceridian over PCI discovery. Pls.' Resp., p. 10. Plaintiffs thereafter served UCLA with the UCLA subpoena on March 20, 2010 seeking production of a host of documents regarding the PCI and communications between Ceridian, Comdata, Charles River and UCLA.*fn2 The UCLA Subpoena called for production by April 5, 2010, but Plaintiffs extended the time for objection until April 7 and time for response to April 19, 2010. On April 6, 2010, Comdata served its objections and responses to Plaintiffs' discovery requests, representing that it would produce to Plaintiffs the raw data that it provided to Charles River Associates. Reply, 5/4/10, p. 2; Ex. A., at resps. 1-3, 5. Comdata did not provide a date for the production of the raw data.

Also on April 6, 2010, Ceridian filed the instant Motion for Protective Order in this Court and a Motion to Quash in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the District in which the UCLA Subpoena was issued. On April 8, 2010, Plaintiffs' counsel requested that Ceridian withdraw the instant Motion so that the parties could meet and confer in compliance with Local Rule 26.1(f) and this Court's procedures. According to Plaintiffs, Ceridian refused and made no effort to negotiate with Plaintiffs to resolve this issue without resorting to motion practice. Pls.' Resp., p. 10.

Plaintiffs' Response to the Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. No. 228) was filed May 3, 2010. Ceridian's Reply (Dkt. No. 229) was filed May 4, 2010, and Plaintiffs' Reply (Dkt. No. 230) was filed May 4, 2010. A telephonic discovery conference was held on May 5, 2010, and Ceridian filed supplemental briefing (Dkt. No. 236) on May 7, 2010. Plaintiffs filed a response to Ceridian's supplemental briefing (Dkt. No. 240) on May 12, 2010, and Ceridian filed a reply to Plaintiffs' response (Dkt. No. 245) on May 14, 2010. Plaintiffs filed an informal motion to strike Ceridian's May 14, 2010 reply (Dkt. No. 246) on May 14, 2010, and Ceridian faxed an update on May 24, 2010 (Dkt. No. 252) stating that Comdata produced on May 21, 2010 all of the raw transactional data which Comdata originally provided to Charles River Associates, Inc. which served as a basis for the PCI. During a telephonic discovery conference for other discovery issues between Ceridian and Plaintiffs on June 3, 2010, this Court sought Plaintiffs' reaction to Ceridian's May 24, 2010 facsimile transmission and whether Comdata's recent production of the raw transactional data from the formation of the PCI satisfied Plaintiffs' PCI discovery requests. Counsel for Plaintiffs responded that the information which was produced on May 21, 2010 may partially satisfy the current discovery requests, but Plaintiffs' discovery requests seek additional information beyond the raw transactional data that would yield information showing Ceridian's active involvement of the ordinary day-to-day management of Comdata's Fleet Card business.*fn3

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1), a "court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party... from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense...." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). "It is well established that the party wishing to obtain a protective order bears the burden of demonstrating that 'good cause' exists for the order." Saldi v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 224 F.R.D. 169, 175 (E.D. Pa. 2004)(quoting Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 786 (3d Cir. 1994)). In addition to bearing the burden to show good cause, the party moving for a protective order must demonstrate such cause with specificity "beyond bald assertions of harm for each specific request that it wants protection from." Id. at 196.

III. DISCUSSION

Ceridian seeks entry of a protective order for the following reasons: (1) it is necessary and appropriate under Fed. R. Civ.P. 26(c) to prevent discovery into matters Ceridian characterizes as irrelevant and thereby preclude the UCLA Subpoena and any other discovery targeting the PCI; and (2) it is appropriate to prevent the disclosure of confidential research, development and commercial information. Ceridian contends that it has standing to challenge Plaintiffs' discovery directed to the PCI and standing to challenge discovery targeting PCI served on UCLA. Finally, Ceridian contends that the UCLA Subpoena and any other discovery regarding the PCI is harassing because it seeks information not within the proper scope of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

Plaintiffs, not surprisingly, contend that Ceridian fails to show good cause for entry of a protective order. According to Plaintiffs, Ceridian's assertion that Plaintiffs failed to provide proper notice for the UCLA Subpoena is frivolous. As Plaintiffs correctly note in a footnote on page 10 of their Response, "[a]rguments regarding the subpoena are properly directed to Judge Real who is charged with handling the third party subpoena in the District Court for the Central District of California." Resp. at 10. A hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 7, 2010 before District Judge Real, on the pending Motion to Quash before that Court. Accordingly, this Court must avoid commenting on assertions related to the pending Motion to Quash.

Plaintiffs also argue that: (1) the relief sought in the instant Motion is "remarkably ambitious" because it seeks to enjoin Plaintiffs from pursuing broad categories of information from any party or non-partywide spectrum of discovery; (2) discovery concerning the PCI is relevant because it shows Ceridian's involvement in this litigation and Plaintiffs are entitled to the transactional data used ...


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