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Panthera Rail Car LLC v. Kasgro Rail Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 6, 2014

PANTHERA RAIL CAR LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
KASGRO RAIL CORPORATION, a Pennsylvania corporation, KASGRO LEASING, LLC, KR LOGISTICS, LLC, and KASGRO RAIL CAR MANAGEMENT, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

NORA BARRY FISCHER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery, wherein Panthera seeks further Response to thirty-five[1] Requests for Production of Documents ("RPDs) served on Defendants Kasgro Rail Corporation, Kasgro Leasing, and Kasgro Rail Car Management. (Docket No. 143). The matter has been fully briefed, (Docket Nos. 144; 145; 147), and the Court heard oral argument on March 5, 2014, (Docket No. 148). Upon consideration of the Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Docket No. 106), the parties' briefings and arguments on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Docket Nos. 143; 144; 145; 147; 148), and for the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's Motion [143] is granted.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The parties dispute the scope of discovery to which Panthera is entitled. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 describes the scope of discovery as follows:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged 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 and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1).

A party moving to compel discovery bears the initial burden of proving the relevance of the requested information. Bracey v. Harlow, No. 11-04, 2012 WL 4857790 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 12, 2012) (Kelly, M.J.); see also Thomas v. Lawler, No. 10-2437, 2013 WL 949483 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2013). Once that initial burden is met, "the party resisting the discovery has the burden to establish the lack of relevance by demonstrating that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the broad scope of relevance as defined under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), or (2) is of such marginal relevance that the potential harm occasioned by discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure." Bracey, 2012 WL 4857790, at *2. Additionally, discovery may be denied where:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information sought by discovery in the action; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.

FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(2)(C).

The scope of fact discovery turns largely on the initial pleadings. See Toth v. Cal. Univ. of Pa., Civ. A. 09-1692, 2011 WL 2436138, at *2 (W.D. Pa. June 15, 2011) (Fischer, J.) ("The complaint and its claims circumscribe the scope of discovery. It is against these claims that discoverability is determined as to each discovery request made."); Committee Note, 192 F.R.D. 340, 192 F.R.D. 340, 389 (2000) ("The Committee intends that the parties and the court focus on the actual claims and defenses involved in the action.").

As suggested by the preceding discussion, trial courts exercise "substantial discretion" over discovery. Stich v. United States, 730 F.2d 115, 117-18 (3d Cir. 1984) ("[T]he conduct of discovery is also committed to the sound discretion of the district court."). Issues relating to the scope of discovery permitted under the Rules rest in the sound discretion of the court. Harris v. Pa. Bd. of Prob. & Parole, Civ. No. 3:12-cv-0674, 2013 WL ...


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