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Roundtree v. Chase Bank USA, N.A.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 3, 2014

BRIAN C. ROUNDTREE, Plaintiff,
v.
CHASE BANK USA, N.A., Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION FOR ORDER AND LEAVE TO HAVE FRCP 30(b(6) WITNESS APPEAR AT TRIAL VIA VIDEO CONFERENCE, OR ALTERNATIVELY, FOR FINDINGS PURSUANT TO FRCP 32(a)(4)(C)

MARSHA J. PECHMAN, District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for order and leave to have FRCP 30(b)(6) witness appear at trial via video conference, or alternatively, for findings pursuant to FRCP 32(a)(4)(C). The Court has considered the motion (Dkt. No. 153), Defendant's response (Dkt. No. 163), Plaintiff's reply (Dkt. No. 169), all related documents, and rules as follows:

IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for order and leave to have Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") (30)(b)(6) witness appear at trial via video conference is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the alternative motion for findings pursuant to FRCP 32(a)(4)(c) is DENIED.

Background

This case involves contested charges to Plaintiff's Chase Bank credit card, which was used for travel and entertainment. (Dkt. No. 36 at 15.) Following Defendant's partially successful motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff's remaining claims concern the Fair Credit Banking Act ("FCBA"). (Dkt. No. 105.)

In October 2013, Plaintiff notified this Court of the scheduled deposition of Defendant's deponent, appointed under FRCP 30(b)(6) ("corporate deponent"). (Dkt. No. 154, Exhibit A.) Two such depositions occurred. (Dkt. 163 at 1.) In February 2014, Defendant informed Plaintiff of the corporate deponent's illness and related unavailability for trial. (Dkt. 153 at 2.) The corporate deponent is now well enough to work but asked to be released from further involvement with this matter. (Dkt. No. 163 at 1.)

Analysis

Plaintiff makes two requests. First, he asks this Court to apply a combination of FRCP 30(b)(6), 43, and 45 to compel Defendant's unwilling corporate deponent to testify at trial via live video link. Second, Plaintiff cites FRCP 32(a)(4)(C) and asks this Court to require Defendant to produce evidence substantiating the corporate deponent's unavailability. As explained below, Plaintiff's motions are not supported by the plain language of these rules.

A. FRCP 30(b)(6) is inapplicable to the issue of witness testimony at trial

Plaintiff asserts that the duties of Defendant's corporate deponent extend beyond discovery. (Dkt. 153 at 3.) This is incorrect. FRCP 30(b)(6) is a discovery rule applicable when a party wishes to depose an organization. Under the rule, the deposing party describes the subject matter of the proposed deposition and the organization produces the person(s) competent to testify on the described subject; i.e., the corporate deponent. Here, Plaintiff conducted two depositions of Defendant's corporate deponent. At that point, Defendant's obligations under FRCP 30(b)(6) were fulfilled; the rule contains no language compelling the corporate deponent's testimony at trial.

B. FRCP 45 does not permit this Court to compel an Arizona-based corporate deponent to testify at trial in Washington State

Plaintiff asks this Court to use its subpoena power under FRCP 45 to compel the Arizona-based corporate deponent to testify in Seattle, Washington. The Court does not read FRCP 45 to permit this. While it allows subpoena service anywhere in the country, a subpoena ...


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