United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
C. CARLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Statement of Facts and of the Case
vehicular accident case comes before us for resolution of a
discovery dispute and motion to compel filed by the
defendant, 48 States, which seeks disclosure of the
plaintiff's income tax returns. (Doc. 35). Specifically, 48
States seeks disclosure of tax returns for the plaintiff,
HSI, for the past 10 years. (Id. ¶ 6).
States makes this discovery demand of HSI in the context of a
lawsuit in which HSI alleges that it purchased a 2015
Freightliner truck as part of its business in March of 2018,
paying $102, 508.94 for this vehicle. (Doc. 1 ¶ 6).
According to HSI, on May 4, 2018, this truck was extensively
damaged in an accident due to the negligence of a truck
driver employed by 48 States. (Id. ¶ 11-14).
HSI alleges that this accident resulted in some $42, 000 in
damage to its vehicle, and an additional lost revenue of
$445, 500 for the period from May 2018 through February 2019
when this vehicle was out of commission. (Id. ¶
19). Thus, the primary component of HSI's alleged losses
in this case consists of lost income totaling more than $445,
000 in 2018 and 2019.
HSI's claims framed in this fashion, 48 States seeks tax
return information from the plaintiff, a request which HSI
has resisted, inspiring this motion to compel. The parties
have set forth their respective positions on this issue.
Therefore, this dispute is now ripe for resolution. Upon
consideration of the parties' submissions, for the
reasons set forth below, this motion will be granted in part
and denied in part.
basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant
discovery dispute. At the outset, Rule 37 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery,
and provides that:
(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery
(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected
persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure
or discovery. . . .
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a).
scope of what type of discovery may be compelled under Rule
37 is defined, in turn, by Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, which provides that:
Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of
discovery is as follows: 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, considering the importance of the issues at stake
in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within
this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 26(b)(1).
regarding the proper scope of discovery, and the extent to
which discovery may be compelled, are matters consigned to
the court's discretion and judgment. Thus, it has long
been held that decisions regarding Rule 37 motions are
“committed to the sound discretion of the district
court.” DiGregorio v. First Rediscount
Corp., 506 F.2d 781, 788 (3d Cir. 1974). Similarly,
issues relating to the scope of discovery permitted under
Rule 26 also rest in the sound discretion of the Court.
Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90
(3d Cir. 1987).
a court's decisions regarding the conduct of discovery,
will be disturbed only upon a showing of an abuse of
discretion. Marroquin-Manriquez v. I.N.S., 699 F.2d
129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983). Likewise, discovery sanction
decisions rest in the sound discretion of the court.
Grider v. Keystone Health Plan Cent., Inc., 580 F.3d
119, 134 (3d Cir. 2009). This far-reaching ...