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Club v. Bnsf Railway Co.

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

October 29, 2014

SIERRA CLUB, a California nonprofit corporation, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY, a Delaware corporation, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S PROTECTIVE ORDER IN PART

JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for protective order (Dkt. No. 88) and Plaintiffs' cross-motion to compel discovery (Dkt. No. 93). Defendant seeks a protective order to keep sensitive business information and certain study results confidential. Dkt. No. 88, p. 2. The Court adopts the proposed order as to the sensitive business information, with the caveat that Plaintiffs may use protected information for the purpose of joining additional parties to this suit. The Court does not find good cause to issue a protective order over the studies, except to the extent that study results implicate sensitive business information. The Court declines to adopt the two-tiered system of document classification proposed in Defendant's proposed protective order (Dkt. No. 88, Attachment 1).

Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary, hereby GRANTS the motion in part, and ADOPTS the proposed protective order (Dkt. No. 88, Attachment 1) with modifications and exceptions.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, seven nonprofit corporations, bring suit against Defendant Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company for alleged violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly referred to as the "Clean Water Act, " and hereinafter "CWA"), 33 U.S.C. ยงยง 1251, et seq. Plaintiffs allege that when Defendant transports coal on its railways, the process discharges pollutants into the waters of the United States in violation of the CWA. Dkt. No. 81, pp. 10-15.

Currently conducting discovery, the parties disagree about whether a protective order regarding Defendant's responses to Plaintiffs' Interrogatories 1-5 is necessary. Dkts. No. 88-96. Plaintiffs object to the implementation of a protective order and move the Court to compel production of outstanding discovery. Dkt. No. 93.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Materials for Which Protective Order is Sought

Defendant seeks a protective order over its responses to the following:

Interrogatory No. 1: Identify all schedules of BNSF Railway shipments of coal or petcoke in or through the State of Washington, from April 16, 2008 to present.
Interrogatory No. 2: Identify all customers or purchasers of BNSF shipments of coal or petcoke, by date of shipment, in or through the State of Washington, from April 16, 2008 to present.
Interrogatory No. 3: Identify all owners and lessors of all rail cars carrying coke or petcoke shipped by BNSF Railway in or through the State of Washington, by date of shipment, from April 16, 2008 to present.
Interrogatory No. 4: Identify all receipts, bills of lading, and manifests of all BNSF trains shipping coal or petcoke in or through the State of Washington, from April 16, 2008 to present.
Interrogatory No. 5: Identify all studies of coal or petcoke discharges to land or water from rail cars shipped by BNSF Railway or ...

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