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Miller Marital Deduction Trust v. Estate of Dubois

United States District Court, E.D. California, Sacramento

February 20, 2018

MILLER MARITAL DEDUCTION TRUST, by and through its trustees, Helen Miller and James Morris; and HELEN MILLER, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
ESTATE OF MARK B. DUBOIS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER QUASHING SUBPOENA

          STANLEY A. BASTIAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Central Mutual Insurance Company's (“Central”) Motion to Quash or Modify Subpoena Issued by Plaintiff, ECF No. 49, and Notice of Intent to Request Redaction, ECF No. 57. The motions were heard without oral argument.

         Central requests the Court quash or modify the subpoena issued by the Miller Marital Deduction Trust (the “Miller Trust”) on the basis of undue burden. Additionally, to the extent Central must comply with the discovery request, Central seeks leave to redact certain private, third-party information from the documents it would produce. Having reviewed the parties' briefings on the matter, the Court grants Central's motion to quash, and denies as moot Central's motion to redact.

         BACKGROUND

         From approximately 1956 to 1985, a dry cleaning business known as the Glo Dry Cleaning System operated on the property located at 6054 Pacific Avenue in Stockton, California (the “Property”). This action arises from the environmental contamination to the Property, and the areas to which the contamination has migrated outside the boundaries of the Property (the “Site”). The parties to this action are the former owners and operators of the dry cleaning business, and the former owners of the Property. The Miller Trust is the current owner of the Property, and obtained title to it following the death of Jack Miller. The Estate of Jack Miller (the “Estate”) was the previous owner of the Property.

         The Estate has been sued under California Probate Code §§ 550, et seq., a statutory scheme that allows a plaintiff to recover against a decedent's estate, to the extent the decedent was covered by insurance. In this case, Jack Miller, deceased, has insurance policies issued through Allianz Insurance Company and Zurich American Insurance Company (“the Insurers”). The Insurers are providing a defense on behalf of the Estate. As part of that defense, the Estate has put forward several affirmative defenses related to insurance coverage.

         During the initial stages of discovery, the Miller Trust received a form which indicated that Central may have issued an insurance policy to Jack Miller from 1974 to 1976. Upon receiving this information, the Miller Trust served a subpoena to Central on November 27, 2017, seeking various types of documents to determine if Central has any records of any type of INSURANCE POLICY[1] that may establish insurance coverage for any “PRP.” ECF No. 49-1, Ex. A. The term “PRP” means each, and the term “PRPs” means all, of the following: Mark B. DuBois; Mary DuBois; John Ruby; Katherine Ruby; Vance H. Van Gorp; Helen Van Gorp; Richard Calhoun; Dorothy Carolyn Calhoun; Rudolph Marengo; Lucille M. Marengo; Joseph Marengo; Meryle M. Marengo; Jack Miller; and any of the following entities: Glo Cleaners; Glo Dry Cleaning; and Glo Dry Cleaning System; and/or any other business operating at 6054 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, California.

         Particularly relevant are subpoena request nos. 13, 14, and 16, which seek:

13. A blank copy of each standard form of comprehensive general liability, or commercial general liability, insurance policy that YOU[2] offered for sale to PERSONS[3] from 1956 to and including 1986, or any portion of that time period.
14. A blank copy of each standard form package of insurance policies that YOU offered for sale to PERSONS from 1956 to and including 1986, or any portion of that time period.
16. Each and every WRITING[4] that RELATES TO[5] any WRITING demanded by the attached Subpoena as set forth in this Attachment A, but that has been destroyed, discarded, recycled, or lost.

Shortly after receiving the discovery request, Central filed the present motions.

         STANDARD

         Under Rule 45(d), the Court must quash or modify a subpoena that, among other things, “subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3). To determine whether a subpoena poses an undue burden, “courts ‘weigh the burden to the subpoenaed party against the value of the information to the serving party.'” Amini Innovation Corp. v. McFerran Home Furnishings, Inc., 300 F.R.D. 406 (C.D. Cal. 2014) (quoting Moon v. SCP Pool Corp., 232 F.R.D. 633, 637 (C.D. Cal. 2005). Courts consider factors such as “relevance, the need of the party for the documents, the breadth of the document request, the time period covered by it, the particularity with which the documents are described and the burden imposed.” Moon, 232 F.R.D. at 637 (quoting U.S. v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 83 F.R.D. 97, 104 (S.D.N.Y. 1979)). Additionally, while discovery is a valuable ...


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