Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Brace

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 7, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT BRACE, ROBERT BRACE FARMS, INC., and ROBERT BRACE AND SONS, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS ATTORNEY

          BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court are two motions: (1) Plaintiff United States' renewed motion for attorney fees and costs, Dkt. No. 169 (renewed from Dkt. No. 54), and (2) Defendants' motion to withdraw as attorney, Dkt. No. 162. Having reviewed the motions, the oppositions thereto, the record of the case, and the relevant legal authorities, the Court will deny the United States' motion and grant Defendants' motion. The reasoning for the Court's decision follows.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court laid out the background of this case in depth in its recent order granting the United States' motion for summary judgment on liability. See Dkt. No. 158.

         As it relates to the current motions, the United States originally submitted its motion for attorneys fees and costs in April 2018. Dkt. No. 54. The motion contends that Defendants' counsel, the law firms of The Kogan Law Group, PC. and Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C., so ill-prepared Defendants' Rule 30(b)(6) witness for a deposition held on January 9, 2018 that the government was required to conduct a second round of depositions between January 30 to 31, 2018. Dkt. No. 169 at 2. The United States avers that it incurred additional costs of $5, 316.02 as a result of this unpreparedness, and now seeks reimbursement. Id.

         The Court struck the United States' original motion, "reserve[ing] ruling on matters relating to sanctions and fees until [the Court had] ruled on dispositive motions." Dkt. No. 141. On August 12, 2019, the Court granted the United States' motion for summary judgment on liability. Dkt. No. 158. Defendants' counsel, Lawrence Kogan of The Kogan Law Group, P.C., informs the Court that, in response to the adverse ruling, Defendants exercised the termination clause in counsel's engagement agreement, discharging him as legal representative in this matter. Dkt. No. 162 at 1. Counsel then moved to withdraw from this matter. Id.

         The United States opposed Mr. Kogan's withdraw, stating that it intended to renew their motion for motion for attorney fees and costs, which it did on September 18, 2019. Dkt. No. 163; Dkt. No. 169. Both motions have been fully briefed.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) "sets forth the manner in which a corporation may be deposed." State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. New Horizont, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 203, 216 (E.D. Pa. 2008). It requires a noticed organization to "designate one or more officers" or "other persons" to "testify on its behalf." Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6). The designate "must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization." Id. "A Rule 30(b)(6) designee," after all, '"is not simply testifying about matters within his or her personal knowledge, but rather is speaking for the corporation about matters to which the corporation has reasonable access." State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins., 250 F.R.D. at 216 (quoting In re Linerboard Antitrust Litig., 237 F.R.D. 373, 382 (E.D. Pa. 2006)).

         Courts have found that several duties arise from Rule 30(b)(6). "The designated deponent has a duty of being knowledgeable on the subject matter identified in the area of inquiry," and "[a] corporation must prepare its selected deponent to adequately testify not only on matters known by the deponent, but also on subjects that the entity should reasonably know." Ideal Aerosmith, Inc. v. Acutronic USA, 7«c., No. 07-1029, 2008 WL 4693374, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 23, 2008); see also Robinson v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., No. 08-1563, 2010 WL 4225884, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 21, 2010). While the deponent must be "properly prepared," however, they '"need not have perfect responses to each question, nor a clairvoyant ability to predict every single question that may be posed.'" Oy v. Verizon Servs. Corp., No. 12-715, 2013 WL 5675516, at *2 (D. Del. Oct. 15, 2013) (quoting Estrada v. Wass, No. 10-1560, 2012 WL 1268533, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 16, 2012)). Additionally, "[i]f'the corporate designee lacks sufficient knowledge of the relevant facts to provide adequate responses to the discovering party's requests ... the onus falls on the corporation to present an additional designee capable of providing sufficient answers to the eluded requests.'" Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp., No. 07-502, 2008 WL 11336789, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 24, 2008) (quoting Barron v. Caterpillar, Inc., 168 F.R.D. 175, 177 (E.D. Pa. 1996)).

         Finally, "producing an unprepared witness is tantamount to a failure to appear that is sanctionable under Rule 37(d)." State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins., 250 F.R.D. at 217 (quoting Black Horse Lane Assoc, 228 F.3d at 304). Rule 37(d), in turn, empowers the Court to order offenders of Rule 30(b)(6) to "pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(d)(3).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         The Court has reviewed the full transcript of the January 9, 2018 deposition. Dkt. No. 171-1. While Mr. Brace, Defendants' Rule 30(b)(6) designee, certainly was not the picture of preparedness, the Court finds that his responses at the deposition were not tantamount to failing to appear. From the Court's review of the transcript, Mr. Brace did not appear to be abrasive, evasive, or purposefully ignorant. He answered many questions ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.