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Allstate Insurance Company v. David Wang

March 31, 2011

ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID WANG
SHUNK HUENG WANG, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard R. Lloyd United States Magistrate Judge

NOT FOR CITATION

United States District Court For the Northern District of California

[Re: Docket No. 20]

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL NON-PARTY TO COMPLY WITH SUBPOENAS

BACKGROUND

Pursuant to this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") filed this declaratory judgment action against three defendants: (1) Shunk Hueng Wang ("Ms. Wang"); (2) Jie Hang Zhao ("Zhao"); and (3) Chuck Chiang ("Chiang").*fn1 Docket No. 1 ("Complaint"). These 20 three defendants, plus Ms. Wang's son David Wang ("David"), are embroiled in an underlying tort action in California state court (the "Underlying Tort Action"). In that action, Zhao and Chiang, who are the plaintiffs there, allege that Ms. Wang and David are responsible for injuries they sustained in relation to a January 2, 2010 automobile accident. See Complaint, Ex. A ("Underlying Tort Complaint"). Pursuant to David's automobile and personal umbrella insurance policies with Docket No. 22 ("Jordan Decl.") ¶ 6. indemnify Ms. Wang in the Underlying Tort Action because she is not an "insured person" under David's umbrella policy. Complaint ¶¶ 16-21. So far, and despite its counsel's efforts, Allstate has 6 not been able to locate and serve Ms. Wang, who Allstate believes is a resident of France. Docket No. 20 ("MTC") at 4-5 (citing Docket No. 23 ("Barnes Decl.") ¶¶ 2-13). Its previous efforts 8 fruitless, Allstate sought to obtain her location from David through two subpoenas: the first required Allstate, Allstate has agreed to defend both Ms. Wang and David in the Underlying Tort Action.*fn2

In this federal action, Allstate seeks a declaratory judgment that it owes no duty to defend or David to produce documents related to Ms. Wang's location by January 20, 2011, and the second required David to appear for deposition on February 3, 2011.*fn3 Barnes Decl, Exs. J (the "Document Subpoena"), K (the "Deposition Subpoena").

David did neither. Instead, on January 18, 2011, David and Ms. Wang filed their own suit against Allstate (and other defendants) in state court in which they allege that Ms. Wang is entitled to coverage under David's insurance policies. See Wang, et al. v. Allstate Ins. Co., et al., No. 1-11-15 cv-191982, Santa Clara County Superior Court (filed January 18, 2011). This new suit, they claimed in a letter to Allstate sent the next day, rendered Allstate's subpoenas to David in this action moot, so he did not produce any documents or appear for deposition. Barnes Decl., Ex. L; see also id., Exs.
Allstate now moves for an order compelling David to comply with the subpoenas it served on him. See MTC. David opposed the motion. Docket No. 27 ("Opp'n"). Pursuant to Civil Local April 5, 2011 hearing is vacated.

United States District Court For the Northern District of California

M, N.

Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds the matter suitable for determination without oral argument, and the commanding a non-party to attend and testify; produce designated documents, electronically stored 4 information, or tangible things in that non-party's possession, custody or control; or permit the 5 inspection of premises. FED. R. CIV. P. 45(a)(1)(A)(iii). The scope of discovery through a Rule 45 6 subpoena is the same as that applicable to the other discovery rules. FED. R. CIV. P. 45 advisory committee's note (1970).

to any party's claim or defense. FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). "Relevance under Rule 26(b)(1) is 10 construed more broadly for discovery than for trial." Truswal Sys. Corp. v. Hydro-Air Eng'g, Inc., 813 F.2d 1207, 1211 (Fed. Cir. 1987). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." FED.

R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). Discovery is not unfettered, however. A court must limit the extent or frequency 14 of discovery if it finds that: (a) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative or 15 can be obtained from a source that is more convenient, less burdensome or less expensive; (b) the 16 party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information through discovery; or (c) the burden or expense of the discovery sought outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs 18 of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' ...


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