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Pease v. Kelly Aerospace

June 8, 2010

DAVID H. PEASE, III AND LISA PEASE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KELLY AEROSPACE, INC. D/B/A KELLY AEROSPACE POWER SYSTEMS, INC., AN ALABAMA CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

This action was initiated in 2007, when plaintiffs David H. Pease III and Lisa Pease filed an action against defendants Kelly Aerospace Inc., d/b/a Kelly Aerospace Power Systems, Inc.; Main Turbo Systems, Inc. ("Main Turbo"); Lycoming Engines Inc. ("Lycoming Engines"); and Air Tolin in Ohio state court. On April 20, 2007, the action was transferred to the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama for jurisdictional purposes. (Rec. Doc. No. 1, Attachment No. 1). The lawsuit arises out of an incident that occurred on June 5, 2005, when plaintiff David Pease was injured after his aircraft, a Piper Saratoga, crashed near Tazewall, Tennessee. Plaintiffs claim that the crash occurred after Mr. Pease's plane "suffered an engine seizure after an apparent oil starvation event at a high altitude . . . ." Id. at 1.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Upon a renewed motion to dismiss, filed by defendant Main Turbo on April 18, 2008 (Rec. Doc. No. 4, Attachment No. 3), the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division ("Alabama District Court"), on June 20, 2008, dismissed Main Turbo as a defendant in the instant case (Rec. Doc. No. 5, Attachment No. 1). The Alabama District Court agreed with Main Turbo, concluding that neither specific nor general personal jurisdiction existed over Main Turbo such that jurisdiction in Alabama was appropriate. Id. at 8-20.

On August 17, 2009, the plaintiffs and defendants Kelly Aerospace Inc., d/b/a Kelly Aerospace Power Systems, Inc., filed a stipulation for dismissal with prejudice. (Rec. Doc. No. 7). The stipulation indicated that the parties had "settled and resolved all of the claims and controversies between them pursuant to a Pro Tanto Settlement Agreement dated August 10, 2009 . . . ." Id. By an order dated August 20, 2009, and upon consideration of the parties' stipulation for dismissal with prejudice filed on August 17, 2009, the Alabama District Court directed the clerk to dismiss defendants Kelly Aerospace, Inc., d/b/a Kelly Aerospace Power Systems, Inc., from the cause of action. (Rec. Doc. No. 7, Attachment No. 2).*fn1

On March 16, 2010, plaintiffs filed a motion, and a brief in support, to stay the then-present trial schedule and transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404. (Rec. Doc. No. 8, Attachment Nos. 3, 4). Plaintiffs argued that the action should be transferred to the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, based upon the interests of judicial economy and the convenience of the parties and witnesses. Id. Lycoming Engines filed a response opposing the plaintiffs' motion to stay the trial schedule and transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 1404 on March 29, 2010. (Rec. Doc. No. 9). In support, Lycoming Engines argued that the interests of justice and the convenience of witnesses to be called to testify, as well as ease of access of proof, did not favor transferring the matter to Pennsylvania. Id. at 3-6. Lycoming Engines also argued that the motion was untimely and unduly prejudicial. Id. at 6-8. Plaintiffs filed a reply brief on April 6, 2010. (Rec. Doc. No. 9, Attachment. No. 2). By a Memorandum and Order dated April 19, 2010, the Alabama District Court granted the plaintiffs' motion to transfer venue and transferred the matter to the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Rec. Doc. No. 11, Attachment No. 2).

The motion presently before this court is a motion to compel the production of documents, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37.*fn2 (Rec. Doc. No. 17). The instant motion was filed on April 12, 2010, with a brief in support. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 17 and 18). With this motion, plaintiffs seek "an order compelling Defendant Lycoming Engines to produce highly relevant and material accident documents and materials responsive to Plaintiffs' production request." (Rec. Doc. No. 17 at 1). Lycoming Engines filed a brief in opposition on May 10, 2010. (Rec. Doc. No. 27). Plaintiffs filed a reply brief on May 24, 2010. (Rec Doc. No. 31).

The instant matter is now ripe for disposition. In light of the discussion below, we will grant the plaintiffs' motion to compel. (Rec. Doc. No. 17).

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets the contours for discovery and provides that "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense - including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things . . . ." The rule further states that "[r]elevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id.

It is well-settled that Rule 26 establishes a liberal discovery policy. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978); Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507-08 (1947); Great West Life Assurance Co. v. Levithan, 152 F.R.D. 494, 497 (E.D. Pa. 1994). As a general rule, therefore, discovery is permitted of any items that are relevant or may lead to the discovery of relevant information. Hicks v. Big Bros./Big Sisters of Am., 168 F.R.D. 528, 529 (E.D. Pa. 1996); Transcontinental Fertilizer Co. v. Samsung Co., 108 F.R.D. 650, 652 (E.D. Pa. 1985). Parties are permitted a significant discovery latitude "in order to ensure that the case proceeds with 'the fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before trial.'" Ascenzi v. O'Brien, No. CV-05-1184, 2008 WL 205235, at *5 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 23, 2008) (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947) (Vanaskie, J.).

When one party refuses to comply with other parties' legitimate discovery requests, the aggrieved party "may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery." Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1); see Fed. R. Civ. P 37(a)(3). The injured party must also certify that it "has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make ...


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