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Gardensensor, Inc. v. Black & Decker (U.S.), Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

September 22, 2014

GARDENSENSOR, INC., a Delaware Corporation, formerly known as PLANTSENSE, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
BLACK & DECKER (U.S.), INC., a Maryland Corporation, Defendant.

ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTES RE: DKT. NOS. 94, 100

NATHANAEL M. COUSINS, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court are two discovery disputes: Dkt. No. 94, in which Gardensensor moves to compel further responses to interrogatories and document requests from Black & Decker, and Dkt. No. 100, in which Black & Decker moves for a protective order preventing the deposition of Jeffrey Ansell.

In general, "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Furthermore, "[f]or good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Id. Information is relevant for discovery purposes if it "appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. However, even when the information sought by the parties in a civil lawsuit is relevant, the Court must limit the scope of discovery if it determines that (1) "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"; (2) "the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action"; or (3) "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, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C). In other words, the Court seeks to "strike[] the proper balance between permitting relevant discovery and limiting the scope and burdens of the discovery to what is proportional to the case." Kaiser v. BMW of N. Am., LLC, No. 12-cv-01311 DMR, 2013 WL 1856578, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 2, 2013).

Having considered the parties' briefs and proposed orders, the arguments of counsel, and the record in this case, the Court ORDERS as follows:

1. Gardensensor's Motion to Compel

a. Interrogatories and Documents Related to Marketing Spend

One of Gardensensor's claims in this action is that Black & Decker failed to abide by its contractual obligation to market and commercialize the PlantSmart product when it failed to support the product with marketing spend "normal for their business" as required by the parties' agreement. See Dkt. No. 96 ¶ 2; 97-10 § 3.2. Gardensensor now moves to compel supplemental responses to Interrogatories Nos. 4, 7, and 12-15, which seek information about marketing projections and spend, as well as sales projections and actual sales data for sensor-related products and for new products launched during 2010 and 2011. Dkt. No. 97-3.

Black & Decker objects to these interrogatories based on a lack of relevance. Dkt. No. 99 at 2. The Court, however, finds that the interrogatories in question appear reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence as to what marketing efforts were "normal" for Black & Decker's business. Black & Decker also asserts that it is "overly burdensome - if not impossible -" to respond to these requests because "there is no available means to search for the information." Id. The Court finds that Black & Decker has failed to substantiate this assertion. With respect to Interrogatories Nos. 4 and 7, Black & Decker's responses are inadequate because they do not specify the factual basis for its agreement to commit to a minimum marketing spend or for its understanding of what marketing spend was "normal" for Black & Decker's business.

Black & Decker must provide supplemental responses to Interrogatories Nos. 4, 7, and 12-15 by September 29, 2014. For the purposes of such responses, the phrase "new product" as used in Interrogatory No. 12 means new products launched by Black & Decker during the years 2010 and 2011.

In addition, Gardensensor asserts that Black & Decker has failed to confirm that all documents relating to the marketing budget and marketing spend of "comparable" products have been produced. Dkt. No. 94 at 3. By September 29, 2014, Black & Decker must produce the following documents and serve amended responses to the document requests confirming that the following documents have been produced:

▪ All documents reflecting Black & Decker's marketing budget for Outdoor Portable Gardening Tools for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 holiday seasons. (Request for Production No. 49, Dkt. No. 97-1 at 7.)
▪ All documents reflecting Black & Decker's monthly, quarterly, and annual marketing budget for any gardening and outdoor products sold at any time during the years 2010 and 2011. (Request for Production, No. 65, Dkt. No. 97-2 at 6.)
▪ All reports and summaries reflecting Black & Decker's actual monthly, quarterly, and annual marketing expenditures for any gardening and outdoor products sold at any time during the years 2010 and 2011. (Request for Production, No. 66, Dkt. No. 97-2 at 6.)
▪ All documents reflecting Black & Decker's monthly, quarterly, and annual marketing budget for any sensor-based products sold at any time during the years 2010 and 2011. (Request for Production, No. 67, Dkt. No. 97-2 at 6.)
▪ All reports and summaries reflecting Black & Decker's actual monthly, quarterly, and annual marketing expenditures for any sensor-based products sold at any time during the years 2010 and 2011. (Request for Production, No. 68, Dkt. No. 97-2 at 7.)
▪ All documents reflecting Black & Decker's monthly, quarterly, and annual marketing budget for any new products sold at any time during the years 2010 and 2011. (Request ...

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