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Koch v. Royal Wine Merchants, Ltd.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 15, 2013

WILLIAM I. KOCH, Plaintiff,
v.
ROYAL WINE MERCHANTS, LTD., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO QUASH OR FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is non-party Eric Greenberg's motion to quash or for protective order. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Greenberg's motion to quash or for protective order.

BACKGROUND

1. The Greenberg Action

On October 26, 2007, plaintiff William Koch filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against defendant Eric Greenberg, alleging causes of action for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of New York Business Law §§ 349, 350. Koch v. Greenberg, No. 07-cv-9600, Docket No. 1 (S.D.N.Y., filed Oct. 26, 2007). Koch alleged in the complaint that he had purchased counterfeit wine at auctions that had originated from Greenberg. Id. ¶¶ 13-59. During discovery, Greenberg was deposed for approximately six hours, and at trial, Greenberg testified as an adverse witness for approximately eight hours. Docket No. 1 at 8; see, e.g., Docket No. 3, Nichols Decl. Exs. V-W.

On April 11 and 12, 2013, a jury returned a verdict for plaintiff Koch and against defendant Greenberg on Koch's fraud claims and claims for violations of New York Business Law §§ 349, 350 and awarded Koch $355, 811 in compensatory damages and $12, 000, 000 in punitive damages. Greenberg, No. 07-cv-9600, Docket Nos. 451, 452 (S.D.N.Y. filed Apr. 15, 2013). On June 21, 2013, Greenberg filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, a new trial. Id., Docket No. 495 (S.D.N.Y., filed Jun. 21, 2013). Greenberg's motion remains pending before the district court.

2. The Royal Action

On October 27, 2011, plaintiff Koch filed a complaint in the Southern District of Florida against defendant Royal Wine Merchants, Ltd. ("Royal"), alleging causes of action for fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, negligent misrepresentation, civil RICO under 18 U.S.C. § 1962, and violation of Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act § 501.204. Koch v. Royal Wine Merchants, Ltd., No. 11-cv-81197, Docket No. 1 (S.D. Fla., filed Oct. 27, 2011). In his second amended complaint, Koch alleges that defendant Royal imported into the United States and sold counterfeit wine, including bottles that Koch had bought at auctions from Greenberg's collection. Id., Docket No. 45 ¶¶ 60-96 (S.D. Fla., filed Jul. 9, 2012).

On August 30, 2013, Koch served Greenberg with a deposition subpoena for the Royal action issued by this Court. Docket No. 15-15, Kaba Decl. Ex. O. By the present motion, Greenberg moves to quash the deposition subpoena. Docket No. 1. In the alternative, Greenberg moves for a protective order: (1) limiting the topics of any deposition of Greenberg to the specific bottles at issue in the Royal action; (2) ordering plaintiff Koch to designate those portions of Greenberg's prior deposition and trial testimony that he will offer at trial, and limit Mr. Greenberg's new deposition testimony in the Royal action exclusively to cross-examination by Royal on that prior testimony; (3) requiring Koch, before asking any additional questions related to the specific bottles at issue in the Royal action, to establish with the Court that he lacked the motive and opportunity to depose Greenberg on those topics in the Greenberg action; and (4) protecting Greenberg against public disclosure of his testimony. Id. In response, Koch states that he has agreed that: (1) Greenberg does not need to search for and produce documents; (2) Greenberg's deposition will be limited to four hours, or less; and (3) Koch will streamline the authentication of documents. Docket No. 14 at 1-2, 15.

LEGAL STANDARD

"[P]re-trial discovery is ordinarily accorded a broad and liberal treatment.'" Shoen v. Shoen, 5 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1993). "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.... 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). A court must limit the scope of discovery when:

(I) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, ...

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