United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge
December 13, 2016, Audi of America, Inc.,
(“Audi”) brought a breach of contract action,
alleging that defendant Bronsberg & Hughes Pontiac, Inc.,
d/b/a Wyoming Valley Audi (“Wyoming Valley”)
breached certain terms of an Audi Dealer Agreement into which
the parties entered on January 1, 1997, when it entered into
an Asset and Real Estate Purchase Agreement (the
“Purchase Agreement”) with the Napleton Group.
Audi alleged that this Purchase Agreement between Wyoming
Valley and the Napleton Group, which was Dated: July 11,
2016, included the sale of Wyoming Valley's Audi assets
in violation of Audi's own right of first refusal and its
right to refuse to consent to the transaction on reasonable
grounds. (Doc. 1.) In January of 2017, Audi sought, and
obtained, a preliminary injunction from the district court
temporarily enjoining Wyoming Valley and Napleton from
consummating the Purchase Agreement while this litigation was
pending. (Doc. 30.) That order currently remains in effect,
but is now the subject of an array of competing motions filed
by the parties.
motions include a motion filed by Napleton to quash certain
third-party subpoenas duces tecum issued by Audi to
an array of non-party corporate entities. (Doc. 136.) In this
motion Napleton, which has now been granted leave to
intervene in this action, asserted that the third-party
subpoenas were harassing and went beyond the proper scope of
civil discovery. Notably, while Napleton lodged these
objections, it does not appear that any of the subpoenaed
third parties have moved to quash these subpoenas.
opposes this motion to quash third party subpoenas, arguing
that Napleton lacks standing to object to the subpoenas which
are not directed to it. (Doc. 156.) For the reasons set forth
below, we agree and will deny this motion to quash.
basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant
motion to quash. At the outset, “[r]ule 45 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes the rules for
discovery directed to individuals and entities that are not
parties to the underlying lawsuit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45. A
subpoena under Rule 45‘must fall within the scope of
proper discovery under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).' OMS
Invs., Inc. v. Lebanon Seaboard Corp., No. 08-2681, 2008
WL 4952445, at *2 (D.N.J. Nov. 18, 2008).” First
Sealord Sur. v. Durkin & Devries Ins. Agency, 918
F.Supp.2d 362, 382 (E.D. Pa. 2013). Rule 45 also confers
broad enforcement powers upon the court to ensure compliance
with subpoenas, while avoiding unfair prejudice to persons
who are the subject of a subpoena's commands. In this
regard, it is well settled that decisions on matters
pertaining to subpoena compliance rest in the sound
discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed
absent a showing of an abuse of that discretion. R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco v. Philip Morris Inc, 29 F. App'x
880, 881 (3d Cir. 2002). This far-reaching discretion extends
to decisions regarding whether to enforce compliance with
subpoenas, where “ ‘[i]t is well-established that
the scope and conduct of discovery are within the sound
discretion of the trial court.' Guinan v. A.I. duPont
Hosp. for Children, No. 08-228, 2008 WL 938874, at *1
(E.D.Pa. Apr.7, 2008) (quoting Marroquin- Manriquez v.
INS, 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir.1983)).”
Coleman-Hill v. Governor Mifflin School Dist, 271
F.R.D. 549, 552 (E.D.Pa. 2010).
of standing also define our role in this field, particularly
when a party like Napleton seeks to quash a subpoena issued
to some non-party witness who has not independently objected
to that subpoena. In this factual setting, we have been clear
Generally speaking, “a party does not have standing to
quash a subpoena served on a third party.” Castle
v. Crouse, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9950, at *3 (E.D. Pa.
May 25, 2004)(citing Thomas v. Marina Assocs., 202
F.R.D. 433, 434 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (further citations omitted).
See also 9a Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: CIVIL § 2459 (2d
ed. 1987). If, however, a party claims a property right or
privilege in the subpoenaed documents, then an exception to
this general rule may arise and provide that individual or
entity with standing. See Id. See also Parker v. Learn
the Skills Corp., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21498 (E.D. Pa.
Oct. 25, 2004).
Fiorentino v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., No.
3:09-CV-2284, 2012 WL 12861600, at *4 n. 1 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 6,
2012). See e.g., Malibu Media, LLC v. Doe, No.
4:15-CV-2281, 2016 WL 524248, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 10, 2016);
Moyer v. Berdanier, No. 3:CV-11-1811, 2013 WL
704483, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 26, 2013)..
view this settled principle controls here, and compels us to
deny this motion to quash. As a party-intervenor in this
lawsuit, Napleton generally has no standing to object to
third-party subpoenas like those issued here by Audi. This
general rule admits of one limited exception where a party
claims a property right or privilege in the subpoenaed
documents. However, Napleton has not alleged, or shown, that
this narrow exception to the general standing rules governing
Rule 45 subpoenas has any application here. In the absence of
such a showing, we will deny this motion to quash.
appropriate order follows: