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De Lage Landen Financial Services, Inc. v. Rasa Floors

April 15, 2011

DE LAGE LANDEN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.
v.
RASA FLOORS, LP
DE LAGE LANDEN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.
v.
VIEWPOINT COMPUTER ANIMATION, INC., ET AL.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DISCOVERY

A series of motions and disputes concerning the scope of discovery exist in these cases, which present a complex combination of contractual and tort claims, as well as RICO claims. The Court has received extensive communications from counsel on the topic of discovery. Motions and other submissions by the parties press their views of what discovery is appropriate and proposed limitations on the amount and nature of discovery.

There has already been an extensive exchange of documents and gathering of facts in these cases through evidentiary hearings and some depositions. Some of these requests for discovery are reasonable, but some are excessive given the legal issues, which may be determinative. The Court need not, should not, and will not allow the process of discovery to become a noose, so tight, that settlement becomes the only option. These are appropriate cases for limitations on discovery on those issues where the Court, after substantial involvement over a three-year period, concludes that requested discovery is not necessary.

The Court reaches the following conclusions based upon its review of the recently amended pleadings; testimony taken at the two-day evidentiary hearing on the class action issue; the contention statements filed by the parties (ECF Nos. 118 in C.A. 08-533; 102, 103 and 104 in C.A. 08-534); and the various discovery motions now pending, as well as the argument on March 29, 2011 and the telephone conference on April 13, 2011. The Court has decided that the fairest and most efficient way to consider the issues in these cases is to divide the cases into four segments and determine what discovery will follow as to each segment.

A. First Segment - DLL's Contract Claim

The first segment covers the merits of DeLage Landen Financial Services, Inc. ("DLL")'s Motions for Summary Judgment filed against Defendants Rasa Floors, LP ("Rasa"), Viewpoint Computer Animation, Inc. ("Viewpoint"), and third-party North Central Communications Corp. ("NCC") (ECF Nos. 189 and 191 in C.A. 08-533; 171 in C.A. 08-534).

DLL sued Defendants Rasa and Viewpoint for breach of contract. These Defendants raise defenses of illegality and unconscionability and propose to take discovery on both of these defenses. The Court believes that the issue of illegality can be decided based upon the statutes and laws of the states that control the contractual interpretation or operation of these contracts. To the extent that Defendants rely on discretionary acts of regulatory authorities, if the Court concludes, following the submission of briefs arguing this point, that depositions on this topic would be admissible and relevant, the Court may allow them.

The defense of unconscionability is essentially a legal defense. Defendants themselves have many facts already in their knowledge, which they can present by way of affidavit or declaration under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, and there is no need for additional depositions on this defense.

Third-party Defendant Hewlitt-Packard Company ("HP") (having been substituted for 3Com Corp.), contends that it is entitled to take discovery of DLL as a third-party Defendant, even though there are no claims asserted specifically between DLL and HP. The Court agrees that under Fed. R. Civ. P. 14, HP is entitled in participate in the case and may submit briefs in opposition to DLL's Motions for Summary Judgment, but there is no relevant factual issue as to which HP is entitled to take discovery of DLL concerning DLL's Motion for Summary Judgment on DLL's Complaint.

The Court concludes that Defendants Rasa and Viewpoint and third-party Defendant NCC are not entitled to take any further discovery on DLL's Motions for Summary Judgment insofar as it relates to DLL's contractual claims against Rasa and Viewpoint, and therefore briefing shall be concluded promptly.

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

1. Opposition briefs to the DLL Motion, limited to DLL's claims, shall be filed by May 15, 2011. Defendants may specify, in their briefs, what specific discovery they need, but the Court has not allowed, for the opposition to DLL's Motions for Summary Judgment. In their filings, the parties shall follow the Court's "point-counterpoint" procedural order.

2. DLL's reply brief shall be filed by May 29, 2011.

3. The Court will advise if it will hear oral argument ...


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