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Synygy, Inc. v. ZS Associates

November 4, 2010

SYNYGY, INC.
v.
ZS ASSOCIATES, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'neill, J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before me is Synygy's "motion to compel discovery against defendant, Novo Nordisk, Inc." (Doc. No. 66). On February 22, 2010, Novo filed a timely response. (Doc. No. 68). On March 1, 2010, plaintiff filed a reply, (Doc. No. 69), to which Novo filed a sur-reply. (Doc. No. 70).*fn1 For the following reasons, I will deny plaintiff's motion.*fn2

BACKGROUND

After approximately thirty-seven months of litigation, the parties are intimately familiar with the procedural history of this case. I will thus focus on those facts that are relevant to disposition of the present motion.

On June 29, 2009, I authorized limited jurisdictional discovery into the relationship between ZS and its worldwide affiliates. (Doc. No. 36). Such discovery was intended to provide plaintiff with the information necessary to defend against an expected motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 and the doctrine of forum non conveniens. On December 1, 2009, I ordered the defendant to re-brief its motion to dismiss and include references, where appropriate, to facts obtained in the jurisdictional discovery. (Doc. No. 60). Synygy thereafter served its discovery requests on ZS which, in turn, moved for a protective order quashing the vast majority of Synygy's requests. (Doc. No. 62). I denied that motion, holding that discovery requests that are reasonably calculated to uncover information relevant to the forum non conveniens and Rule 19 analyses are permitted under the June 29, 2009 Order. (Doc. No. 65). I instructed ZS to respond to the discovery requests that are proper and, if necessary, make specific objections to those requests that are improper.

In the meantime, Synygy also served discovery requests on Novo, a non-party to the original complaint. On February 1, 2010, Novo lodged objections to each of the discovery requests. Synygy now moves to compel Novo to produce the requested discovery.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the scope of discovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26. It provides that a party may "obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.... Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id.

Where a party has received discovery responses that are incomplete or evasive, Rule 37 permits that party to request a court order compelling additional disclosure or discovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37. The party seeking discovery bears the initial burden of demonstrating the relevance of the information sought. See Goodman v. Wagner, 553 F. Supp. 255, 258 (E.D. Pa. 1982). The party opposing the discovery request must then make a specific showing as to why the requested information does not fall within the broad scope of discovery. See id.

ANALYSIS

I. Preliminary Matters

At the outset, I must address whether Novo is a defendant in this matter. This, apparently, is a point of contention between the parties. In its original complaint, plaintiff named ZS as the sole defendant. After the Court of Appeals remanded the case for further analysis on the Rule 19 and forum non conveniens issues, plaintiff filed an amended complaint which named Novo as an additional defendant. Both ZS and Novo objected to the amended complaint and I received extensive briefing on whether such amendment was appropriate. After considering all the submissions, I decided that my primary obligation was to fulfill the mandate of the Court of Appeals and reconsider my dismissal of the original complaint. I made clear that only after deciding whether the original dismissal was appropriate would I address whether the complaint could properly be amended to add additional parties. The effect of this ruling was to limit the scope of the present proceedings to that set forth in the original complaint--namely, Synygy's allegations of wrongdoing by ZS.

Despite my ruling, Synygy now claims that Novo is a party. In support of its proposition, it cites the captions of various documents. First, it points to the caption on the court's docket which references Novo as a defendant. The docket caption--which is the Clerk of Court's interpretation of the filings--is included only for the convenience of the parties. It has no legal significance. Otherwise, a clerical error could circumvent the court's rulings.

Likewise, Synygy also points to documents filed by Novo which utilize captions naming Novo as a defendant. Those documents, however, were filed before my December 1, 2009 Order at a time when Novo reasonably believed itself to be a defendant or at least a potential defendant.*fn3 In any event, those captions are due no greater weight than the caption on the court's docket sheet. I am unpersuaded that a clerical error on the docket sheet, in the caption of a motion or, indeed, on any other document can provide authorization ...


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