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United States v. Wildfire Model Wfb150-Q2 Off-Road All-Terrain Vehicles

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 31, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
WILDFIRE MODEL WFB150-Q2 OFF-ROAD ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING CLAIMANTS' MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER AND THE GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO EXTEND DISCOVERY DEADLINE

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Claimant Synder Computer System, Inc., d/b/a Wildfire Motors' ("Wildfire") motion for protective order (Dkt. 42) and the Government's motion to extend discovery deadline (Dkt. 49). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motions for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On November 7, 2011, the Government filed a complaint for the forfeiture of offroad vehicles and generators. Dkt. 1. The Government seized this merchandise at the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Washington. Id.

On January 1, 2012, Wildfire answered, demanding that its property be released. Dkt. 7.

On September 27, 2013, the Government issued notices of deposition for a Wildfire 30(b)(6) designee and Wildfire employees Douglas Don Snyder and Alan Tiptop. The notices requested the deponents to appear in Tacoma, Washington. On October 4, 2013, Wildfire filed a motion for a protective order arguing that the deponents are residents of Ohio and that any deposition should occur in Ohio. Dkt. 42. On October 16, 2013, the Government responded and filed a cross motion to extend the discovery deadline. Dkt. 49. On October 18, 2013, Wildfire replied to its motion. Dkt. 51. On October 23, 2013, Wildfire responded to the Government's motion. Dkt. 55. On October 25, 2013, the Government replied. Dkt. 60.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Extension

The Court may extend deadlines for good cause. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). In this case, the parties have shown good cause to extend the deadlines to complete requested depositions. Therefore, the Court grants the Government's motion.

B. Depositions

If good cause is shown, the Court may limit or forbid discovery in order to protect a party from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Where parties cannot arrive at a mutual agreement, a district court has wide discretion to establish the time and place of depositions. Hyde & Drath v. Baker, 24 F.3d 17, 1162, 1166 (9th Cir. 1994). Factors which the Court may consider include: (i) the parties' convenience and relative hardships to attend the designated location; (ii) cost of transportation and lost work to defendant; (iii) expense and inconvenience to move voluminous documents; (iv) whether the parties' counsel are located in the forum district; (v) whether the defendant is a large corporation whose employees often travel; (vi) whether significant discovery disputes may arise and judicial economy favors resolution by the forum court or other similar concerns; and (vii) whether the parties' claims and parties' relationship are such that appropriate adjustment of the equities favors a deposition site in the forum district. Willis v. Mullins, 2006 WL 894922 at *2 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 4, 2006). Most importantly, a defendant may normally insist on being deposed in his home state or district to limit the inconvenience caused by being sued in a distant forum. HIMC Corp. v. Ramchandani, 2008 WL 706794 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 13, 2008).

In this case, the majority of factors weigh in favor of Wildfire. The only factor that could arguably be in the Government's favor is that the deponents have traveled outside of Ohio to attend to other matters in this case. This fact, however, does not overcome the presumption that the deponents may insist on being deposed in their home district. Further, the Government has not provided persuasive argument that requiring the Wildfire deponents to appear in Tacoma would not constitute an undue burden and trial expense, nor that these witnesses should be summoned to a forum where the only attachment is that it was the port of entry for goods bought overseas. Therefore, the Court grants Wildfire's motion for a protective order and limits the depositions in question to the deponents' home federal judicial district.

III. ORDER

Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that Wildfire's motion for a protective order (Dkt. 42) and the Government's motion to extend the discovery deadline (Dkt. 49) are GRANTED.


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