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Cary A. Jardin v. Datallegro

May 9, 2011

CARY A. JARDIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DATALLEGRO, INC., , ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. William V. Gallo U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL [DOC. NO. 1]

This case appeared on the Court's docket when the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington transferred Plaintiff's motion to compel Microsoft, Inc., to respond to Plaintiff's requests for document production in Jardin v. DATAllegro, Inc., et al., S.D. Cal. No. 08-CV-1462-IEG(WVG) ("2008 Case"). The only issue for resolution in the instant case remains Plaintiff's motion to compel, which the Court finds suitable for decision without oral argument. S.D. Cal. Civ. L. R. 7.1. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

Before Plaintiff's claims were summarily adjudicated in Defendants' favor, he alleged patent infringement against Defendants Frost and DATAllegro, Inc., which has been purchased by non-party Microsoft, Inc. On September 30, 2010, Plaintiff served Microsoft with a subpoena duces tecum that sought various categories of documents related to Microsoft's purchase of DATAllegro. Although it appears that Microsoft initially complied by producing some documents, the company later refused to produce other documents it found. The instant motion to compel followed on December 20, 2010, in Washington.

On January 14, 2011, the fully-briefed motion was transferred to this Court after Plaintiff and Microsoft jointly moved for the transfer. (Doc. Nos. 11-13.)*fn1 At that time, Microsoft "expressly consent[ed] to the transfer for the limited purpose of resolving the pending discovery dispute," (Doc. No. 11 at 2:3-4), and "agree[d] to be bound by, and comply with, any order issued from [this Court]," (id. at 2:19-3:1).

On February 4, 2011, this matter was low-numbered to the 2008 Case. On February 18, 2011, Defendants asked for a stay of discovery in the 2008 Case pending the outcome of a motion to dismiss that was pending in another related case, Jardin v. DATAllegro, Inc. et al., S.D. Cal. No. 10-CV-2552-IEG(WVG) ("2010 Case"). (Doc. No. 155.)

On March 23, 2011, the Court stayed discovery after hearing arguments and deferred ruling on the present motion until the stay lifted. (Doc. No. 188.) On April 12, 2011, the stayed lifted after Judge Gonzalez ruled on Defendants' motion to dismiss in the 2010 Case. (Doc. No. 205.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to compel is appropriate when a party fails to produce relevant, non-privileged documents that a party has subpoenaed. Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(2)(B)(i). The party seeking to compel compliance bears the burden of establishing that its document requests satisfy the relevancy requirements of Rule 26(b)(1).*fn2 See Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 610 (N.D. Cal. 1995) (finding that a relevant matter is "any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matters that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case."). Moreover, the scope of federal discovery is broad. See Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979); Epstein v. MCA, Inc., 54 F.3d 1422, 1423 (9th Cir. 1995) ("[W]ide access to relevant facts serves the integrity and fairness of the judicial process by promoting the search for truth."). The broad scope of permissible discovery encompasses "any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Doe v. Archdiocese of Portland, 717 F. Supp. 2d 1120, 1126 (D. Or. 2010) (citing Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978)).

Discovery is not limited to the merits of a case, "for a variety of fact-oriented issues may arise during litigation that are not related to the merits." Id. Courts have "wide latitude in controlling discovery, and [their] rulings will not be overturned in the absence of a clear abuse of discretion." Volk v. D.A. Davidson & Co., 816 F.2d 1406, 1416-17 (9th Cir. 1987).

After the moving party makes the requisite showing of relevance, the party opposing the discovery has the burden of showing that it should be prohibited, as well as the burden of clarifying, explaining, and supporting its objections. DIRECTV, Inc. v. Trone, 209 F.R.D. 455, 458 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (citing Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d 418, 429 (9th Cir. 1975)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Relevancy Predicated on Plaintiff's Former Claims

Plaintiff's subpoena contains fourteen document categories. Microsoft objected on the ground, inter alia, that the documents are not relevant. Plaintiff's current proffer of relevancy relies heavily on the following argument: "[T]he documents identified by Microsoft relate to its evaluation of the accused technology and, at a minimum, are relevant to Jardin's proof of infringement and value of the accused technology. The other requested documents are likewise relevant to Jardin's damages theories, infringement ...


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