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Oberdorf v. Amazon.Com, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 19, 2017

HEATHER R. OBERDORF and MICHAEL R. OBERDORF, her husband, Plaintiffs,
AMAZON.COM, INC., a Washington Corporation, Defendant.


          Matthew W. Brann, United States District Judge


         1. On May 30, 2017, Plaintiffs Heather Oberdorf and Michael Oberdorf (“Plaintiffs”) filed the instant Motion to Compel.[1] This Motion has since been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.[2]

         2. In this Motion, Plaintiffs ask the Court to compel the deposition of an representative capable of providing information on the “Seller Assent to Business Solutions Agreement” (“Agreement”). In support thereof, Plaintiffs aver that Defendant's (“Defendant”) Rule 30(b)(6) deponent, Mr. Nicholas Denissen, was unprepared to speak about this document at his May 2, 2017 deposition.[3]

         3. In response, Defendant avers that Plaintiffs' May 30, 2017 Motion, while styled as a Motion to Compel, is in fact a motion to reopen a discovery period which closed on May 3, 2017.[4] Defendant further argues that the Court lacks “good cause” to reopen discovery because Plaintiffs failed to include the Agreement as a topic to be discussed in its Notice of the Deposition. As such, Mr. Denissen cannot be deemed an unprepared Rule 30(b)(6) deponent.


         4. “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.). 5. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) provides that a scheduling order may be modified “for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). “This authority extends to requests to reopen discovery.” In Re Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust Litigation, 2013 WL 3873225, *2 (M.D. Pa. July 25, 2013) (Connor, J.) (citing Aamco Transmissions, Inc. v. Marino, 1991 WL 40336 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 19, 1991)). This standard is significantly more stringent than the standard in Rule 15(a)(2) which provides that courts should “freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.” Race Tires Am., Inc. v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., 614 F.3d 57, 84 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2))). A movant's “due diligence” is essential in establishing good cause. Race Tires, 614 F.3d at 84; see also Brown v. American Sintered Technologies, 2015 WL 917293 (M.D. Pa. March 3, 2015) (Brann, J.) (the “good cause standard hinges on diligence of the movant.” Venetec Inter., Inc. v. Nexus Med., LLC, 541 F.Supp.2d 612, 618 (D. Del. 2008)).

         6. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) provides that

[A] party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination. The named organization must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify. A subpoena must advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make this designation. The persons designated must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6). A Rule 30(b)(6) corporate designee must “take a conscientious good faith endeavor to designate the persons having knowledge of the matters sought . . . and to prepare those persons in order that they can answer fully, completely, unevasively, the questions posed . . . as to the relevant subject matters.” Costa v. County of Burlington, 254 F.R.D. 187, 189(D.N.J. 2008)(quoting Harris v. New Jersey, 259 F.R.D. 89, 92 (D.N.J. 2007)). This duty “goes beyond matters personally known to the designee or to matters in which the designee was personally involved, and if necessary the deponent must use documents, past employees or other resources to obtain responsive information.” Harris, 259 F.R.D. at 92-93.


         7. Having reviewed the submissions of both parties, I find that Plaintiffs have failed to show “good cause” necessary to reopen the discovery period, and in turn modify a prior scheduling order. First, I specifically note that Plaintiffs' Rule 30(b)(6) Notice of Deposition outlined the following topics for examination at Mr. Denissen:

a. Nature of the relationship between Defendant and individuals and entities who sell products through pursuant to an Amazon ...

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