United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
KRISTEN BEHRENS, ESQ., as Administratrix, et al.
ARCONIC, INC., et al.
MEMORANDUM RE: DISCOVERY FROM ARCONIC
Complaint in this case concerns 247 plaintiffs, following a
disastrous and tragic fire in London at an apartment complex
known as the Grenfell Tower, on June 14, 2017. The complaint
was filed on June 6, 2019 in the Philadelphia Court of Common
Pleas and promptly removed to this Court pursuant to the
Class Action Fairness Act. The Court convened a Rule 16
conference on July 17, 2019 and set a schedule for various
that schedule defendants have filed motions to dismiss under
Rule 12, and, also under the doctrine of forum non
conveniens (“FNC”). Defendants also filed a
joint appendix containing 51 exhibits, including numerous
declarations and other documents, consisting of hundreds of
has not yet been completed.
is relevant on the Defendants' Motions. Defendants have
opposed this motion (ECF 54) but, first disclosed in
Plaintiff's reply brief, on September 27, 2019 (ECF 55),
two of the three Defendants, have agreed to produce some
documents and some depositions testimony.
September 13, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel
against all Defendants asserting that the discovery which
Plaintiffs initiated as relevant on the Defendants'
Motions was not forthcoming. (ECF 52.) Defendants opposed
this Motion (ECF 54) but Plaintiffs' reply brief (ECF 55)
stated that two of the three Defendants now have agreed to
produce some documents and produce some deposition testimony.
However, the Arconic Defendants have refused to produce any
several reasons, as follows, Arconic Defendants'
objection to producing any discovery will be overruled, and
Plaintiffs' Motion for at least some discovery from the
Arconic Defendants will be granted.
both sides cite numerous cases where courts have either
allowed or denied discovery on a pending motion to dismiss
under the FNC doctrine, none of the cases have a similarity
to the present one, which is unique in the severity of the
injuries suffered and the number of plaintiffs. In a case
relied on by Defendants decided by the undersigned, Copia
Communications, LLC v. AM Resort, LP, 2017 WL 4012687
(E.D. Pa. 2017), the factual background was totally
the concept of proportionality, Plaintiffs have by far the
better argument. The severity of the tragic fire, which
resulted in 72 deaths, and numerous cases of sustained
personal injury and property damage, is virtually
unprecedented. This Court will allow Plaintiffs fair
discovery in opposing the Defendants' Motions, but also
in securing documents and testimony located in the United
States that may be relevant on issues of liability and
the older cases denying discovery on the FNC doctrine were
before the era of electronically-stored information
(“ESI”). Given the ease of transferring data and
information across borders, the fact that this tragedy took
place in England does not necessarily mean that relevant
information is not located in the United States. Some
documents and facts and testimony may only be available in
England, or available in the United States. Ease of recovery,
through pretrial discovery as followed in the United States,
but not necessarily followed in England, may warrant
important discovery to take place in this Court,
notwithstanding the existence of other legal remedies,
whether adequate or not, in England.
Court is not necessarily endorsing all of Plaintiffs'
discovery requests at this time. However, the Court cannot
ignore the fact that two of the three defendant corporations
have agreed to produce some documents and at least some
deposition testimony, but the Arconic Defendants have refused
to produce anything.
Court will direct that counsel for Plaintiffs and Arconic
Defendants commence a substantive “meet and
confer” process to determine whether a resolution can
be achieved, at least on the initial phase of document
production and deposition testimony from individuals who are
knowledgeable about issues relevant to the Defendants'
Motions and/or about the ESI possessed by the Arconic
Defendants and/or available to them in this country.
point, either the Parties will agree, or the Court will rule,
what discovery is relevant before the Court decides
the Defendants assert that none of their products were
manufactured or sold within the United States, that fact does
not necessarily fully answer the FNC motion, but indeed is a
relevant factor. Another relevant factor is what damages are
available in the United Kingdom. The volume of ...