United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Court held a telephonic status conference on May 24, 2017 to
address recent correspondence from both parties regarding
disputes about upcoming depositions. ECF Nos. 53, 55.
deposition schedule was coordinated by Plaintiffs third (and
now former) counsel of record.
After Plaintiffs terminated that counsel, they independently
confirmed the deposition schedule with counsel for
Defendants. ECF No. 56.
“Termination and substitution of counsel does not
afford Plaintiff a tabula rasa from which she may
litigate anew. Instead, new counsel must stand in the shoes
of her prior advocates-regardless of how worn they may be-and
pick up where prior counsel left off, in a case whose scope
has largely been settled for at least the past five
years.” Summy-Long v. Pennsylvania State
Univ., No. 1:06-CV-1117, 2015 WL 5924505, at *3 (M.D.
Pa. Oct. 9, 2015) (Brann, J.).
to the instant dispute, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
30(d)(1) provides that a deposition is “limited to 1
day of 7 hours.” Nevertheless, the Court may impose
sanctions, including attorney's fees, on any party who
“impedes, delays, or frustrates the fair examination of
the deponent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(d)(2). As discussed on
the status call, this may be the case where vexatious or
otherwise uncooperative conduct results in a deposition of
30(d)(3) also provides that the Court may issue a protective
order limiting a deposition's scope. Rule 26(c) governs
the issuance of such orders and states that the Court
“may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party
or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense.” Moreover, it is axiomatic that
“the party seeking discovery must first demonstrate the
relevance before the party seeking a protective order must
demonstrate good cause.” Bell v. Lockheed Martin
Corp., 270 F.R.D. 186, 195 (D.N.J. 2010).
to the scope of a deposition, Rule 26(b)(1) provides that the
parties “may obtain discovery regarding any
nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's
claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the
case.” Typically, “the fact that a question is
repetitive or irrelevant is not an appropriate ground for
instructing a witness not to answer a question, since it does
not involve a matter of privilege.”
Hearst/ABC-Viacom Entm't Servs. v. Goodway Mktg.,
Inc., 145 F.R.D. 59, 63 (E.D. Pa. 1992). “The
proper procedure to follow when an objection is raised to a
question propounded in a deposition is for the attorney who
raises the objection to note his objection but to allow the
question to be answered.” Id.
addition, under Rule 37(a)(3)(B)(i), a party may file a
motion to compel responses to questions that a deponent
failed to answer. A court may deny a motion to compel if it
“determines that the questions are irrelevant.”
Commercial Union Ins. Co. v. Westrope, 730 F.2d 729,
732 (11th Cir. 1984); Alexander v. F.B.I., 192
F.R.D. 23 (D.D.C. 2000); Fowkes v. Dravo Corp., 7
F.R.D. 291 (E.D. Pa. 1947). Thus, the Court enjoys
“broad discretion” to deny a motion to compel
that is “unnecessarily burdensome and overly
broad.” Doe v. Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 837 F.Supp.2d 1145, 1157
(D. Idaho 2011) (quoting Sorosky v. Burroughs Corp.,
826 F.2d 794, 805 (9th Cir.1987)).
Regarding production of physical documents, Rule 45(a)(C)
explains that “[a] command to produce documents,
electronically stored information, or tangible things or to
permit the inspection of premises may be included in a
subpoena commanding attendance at a deposition.”
However, that same rule states that the Court must
quash a subpoena that “subjects a person to undue
burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A)(iv). “To
determine whether a subpoena imposes an undue burden, the
Court must consider (1) the relevance of the information
requested; (2) the need of the party for the documents; (3)
the breadth of the document request; (4) the time period
covered by the request; (5) the particularity with which the
party describes the requested documents; and (6) the burden
imposed.” In re Domestic Drywall Antitrust
Litig., 300 F.R.D. 234, 252 (E.D. Pa. 2014) (Baylson,
“It is well established that the scope and conduct of
discovery are within the sound discretion of the trial court
. . . and that after final judgment of the district court . .
. our review is confined to determining if that discretion
has been abused.” Marroquin-Manriquez v.
I.N.S., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983) (Aldisert, J.).
“To find such abuse it is usually necessary to conclude
that there has been an interference with a substantial right
. . . or that the discovery ruling is seen to be a gross
abuse of discretion resulting in fundamental unfairness in
the trial of the case.” Id. Thus, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has forewarned
litigants that it “will not interfere with a trial
court's control of its docket except upon the clearest
showing that the procedures have resulted in actual and
substantial prejudice to the complaining litigant.”
In re Fine Paper Antitrust Litig., 685 F.2d 810,
817-18 (3d Cir. 1982) (Aldisert, J.).
“Discovery need not be perfect, but discovery must be
fair.” Boeynaems v. LA Fitness Int'l, LLC,
285 F.R.D. 331, 333 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (Baylson, J.). “The
responses sought must comport with the traditional notions of
relevancy and must not impose an undue burden on the
responding party.” Hicks v. Arthur, 159 F.R.D.
468, 470 (E.D. Pa. 1995). “[T]he scope of [ ] discovery
is not without limits.” Kresefky v. Panasonic
Commc'ns & Sys. Co., 169 F.R.D. 54, 64 (D.N.J.
1996). As such, “[d]iscovery should be tailored to the
issues involved in the particular case.” Id.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ...