The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Robert Leone's Ex Parte Motion for Leave to Conduct Expedited Discovery. (Doc. 2.) On March 15, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant ex parte motion seeking a court order permitting discovery in advance of a Rule 26(f) conference. (Doc. 2.) Plaintiff asserts that early discovery is necessary to determine the identities of the Commanding Officer, "Trooper John Doe," and "Trooper Jane Doe" (collectively the "Unidentified Defendants") to ensure that the Unidentified Defendants are served within 120 days as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). (Doc. 3, 4.) Plaintiff argues that failure to serve within 120 days will result in the dismissal of the Complaint without prejudice, but any attempt to re-file the Complaint would likely be barred by the statute of limitations, which may have expired the day after the Complaint was filed. (Doc. 3, 5.) Because the facts as presented by Plaintiff fail to establish good cause warranting the Court to engage in the inherently unfair practice of granting a motion ex parte, Plaintiff's request will be denied.
Plaintiff initiated this action on March 7, 2012 alleging civil rights violations for events that occurred on March 8, 2010 and March 9, 2010. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff alleges he was brutally beaten and assaulted by various employees of the Towanda Borough Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police. (Doc. 1.) Eight days later, on March 15, 2012, Mr. Leone filed an ex parte motion requesting permission to conduct early discovery in advance of a Rule 26(f) conference. (Doc. 2.) In particular, Mr. Leone seeks discovery of the identities of the Unidentified Defendants and information relating to the Unidentified Defendants' involvement in the events described in the Complaint. (Doc. 2.) The basis for Mr. Leone's request for early discovery is set forth as follows:
Plaintiff requires the identities of the Unidentified Defendants in order to ensure proper service. Plaintiff commenced this lawsuit on March 7, 2012, and has the remaining 120-day period within which to accomplish service of process. Plaintiff's claims against the Unidentified Defendants are likely governed by Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations applicable to torts which has expired. Expedited discovery is necessary so that Plaintiff can serve process on the Unidentified Defendants within the time period prescribed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). Although failure to serve process within this time period may result in a dismissal without prejudice, any attempt by Plaintiff to re-file the Complaint would be time-barred since the statute of limitations may have expired on March 8, 2012. Accordingly, it is critical that Plaintiff discover the identities of these individuals along with their involvement with the events described in the Complaint. (Doc. 3.)
Rule 26(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: A party may not seek discovery from any source before the parties have conferred as required by Rule 26(f), except in a proceeding exempted from initial disclosure under Rule 26(a)(1)(B), or when authorized by these rules, by stipulation, or by court order.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(1) (emphasis added). Although Rule 26 allows the Court to grant expedited discovery, "the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure offer little guidance as to when it is appropriate to authorize expedited and/or early discovery." Kone Corp. v. ThyssenKrupp USA, Inc., No. 11-465, 2011 WL 4478477, at *3 (D. Del. Sept. 26, 2011).
As the Third Circuit has not adopted a standard for addressing expedited discovery requests, the Court will "look for guidance from other district court courts within the Third Circuit . . . ." Loy v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 838 F. Supp. 991, 995 (E.D. Pa. 1993). District courts in the Third Circuit have applied two standards when considering motions for expedited discovery: an injunctive relief standard and a "good cause" standard. See Kone Corp., 2011 WL 4478477, at *3-*4.
The more stringent injunctive relief standard requires the moving party to demonstrate:
(1) irreparable injury, (2) some probability of success on the merits, (3) some connection between the expedited discovery and the avoidance of the irreparable injury, and (4) some evidence that the injury that will result without expedited discovery looms greater than the injury that the defendant will suffer if the expedited relief is granted.
Gucci Am., Inc. v. Daffy's, Inc., No. 00-4463, 2000 WL 1720738, at *6 (D. N.J. Nov. 14, 2000) (quoting Notaro v. Koch, 95 F.R.D. 403, 405 (S.D.N.Y. 1982)).
Alternatively, the less stringent "good cause" standard requires the party seeking discovery to show "good" cause for its motion, such that the request is "reasonable" in light of the circumstances. See Kone Corp., 2011 WL 4478477, at *4. "Good cause is usually found where the plaintiff's need for expedited discovery, in consideration of the administration of justice, outweighs the possible prejudice or hardship to the defendant." Fonovisa, Inc. v. Does 1-9, No. 07-1515, 2008 WL 919701, at *10 n.22 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 3, 2008) (citing Semitool, Inc. v. Tokyo Electron Am., Inc., 208 F.R.D. 273, 276 (N.D. Cal. 2002)); see also Kone Corp., 2011 WL 4478477, at *6 (applying a "good cause"/reasonableness standard to expedited discovery requests); Entm't Tech. Corp. v. Walt Disney Imagineering, No. 03-3546, 2003 WL 22519440, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 2, 2003) (applying a reasonableness standard to expedited discovery requests). Good cause has been found where a ...