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Robotics v. Deviedma

October 7, 2010

DEVON ROBOTICS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GASPAR DEVIEDMA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant Gaspar DeViedma's Motion for a Protective Order (Doc. No. 40), Plaintiffs' response in opposition thereto (Doc. No. 44), and Defendant's reply (Doc. No. 45). For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum, the Court denies Defendant's Motion.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiffs are suing Defendant Gaspar DeViedma for breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with existing contractual relations, and defamation. Defendant was working for Plaintiff Devon Robotics as its Chief Operating Officer (COO) and for Health Robotics S.r.L. (HRSRL) as its General Counsel at the time of the alleged conduct giving rise to this suit. Defendant no longer works for Devon Robotics; he is currently Vice President of HRSRL.

During discovery, Plaintiffs requested that Defendant produce, among other things, "[a]ll documents relating to, discussing or identifying any communications between DeViedma and any person concerning the performance, operation and/or funding of CytoCare in installations in North America" and "[a]ll documents relating to, discussing or identifying HRSRL's termination of the CytoCare Agreement." (Pls.' First Set of Reqs. for the Produc. of Docs. Directed to Def. Gaspar DeViedma 7 No. 16, 8 No. 24.) Defendant then moved for a protective order with respect to production of "documents that are owned by his employer, HRSRL."*fn2 (Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for a Protective Order 1.) Defendant argues that he should not be required to produce these documents for three reasons: (1) the documents belong not to him but to his employer, a nonparty; (2) disclosure of the documents is prohibited by Italian law; and (3) disputes between Plaintiff and Defendant's employer must be resolved by arbitration. (Id. at 1-2.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for discovery of any non-privileged matter relevant to a party's claim or defense. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). The court may limit the broad scope of discovery, however, for "good cause." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). The party seeking protection from discovery bears the burden of proving that good cause exists. Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 786-87 (3d Cir. 1994).

"Good cause is established on a showing that disclosure will work a clearly defined and serious injury to the party seeking closure. The injury must be shown with specificity." Id. at 786 (quoting Publicker Indus., Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 1059, 1071 (3d Cir. 1984)). "Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated reasoning, do not support a good cause showing." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

"In considering whether good cause exists for a protective order, the federal courts have generally adopted a balancing process." Id. at 787. "[T]he court . . . must balance the requesting party's need for information against the injury that might result if uncontrolled disclosure is compelled. When the risk of harm to the owner of . . . confidential information outweighs the need for discovery, disclosure [through discovery] cannot be compelled . . . ." Id. (quoting Arthur R. Miller, Confidentiality, Protective Orders, and Public Access to the Courts, 105 Harv. L. Rev. 427, 433-34 (1991) (footnote omitted)).

The Third Circuit has identified a nonexclusive set of factors that a court should consider in deciding whether good cause exists:

(1) the interest in privacy of the party seeking protection; (2) whether the information is being sought for a legitimate purpose or an improper purpose; (3) the prevention of embarrassment, and whether that embarrassment would be particularly serious; (4) whether the information sought is important to public health and safety; (5) whether sharing of the information among litigants would promote fairness and efficiency; (6) whether the party benefitting from the order of confidentiality is a public entity or official; and (7) whether the case involves issues important to the public.

Arnold v. Pennsylvania, 477 F.3d 105, 108 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Pansy, 23 F.3d at 787-88).*fn3

III. Discussion

1. The Impact of Nonparty Ownership ...


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