United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER AND TO
QUASH PLAINTIFF'S SUBPOENA TO FORD MOTOR COMPANY, INC.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Protective Order and to Quash Plaintiff's Subpoena to
Ford Motor Company, Inc. (Dkt. #17). For the reasons stated
herein, Defendant's motion is denied.
a car dealership, is affiliated with and receives several
corporate services, including human resources support, from
AutoNation, Inc. (“AutoNation”). Dkt. #17 at 2.
Defendant is an authorized Ford Motor Company, Inc.
(“Ford”) dealership and Defendant's Service
Department performs maintenance and repairs under Ford
factory warranties. Id. Plaintiff was the manager of
Defendant's Service Department until he was terminated on
June 10, 2015. Id. at 3.
March 2015, Plaintiff was injured at work and needed to take
medical leave protected under federal and Washington law.
Dkt. #22 at ¶¶ 5, 6. Plaintiff was immediately
terminated upon returning to work from protected leave and
after notifying Defendant that he would need a reasonable
accommodation to use assistant devices. Id. at
¶¶ 7, 8. Plaintiff alleges that the termination was
on account of his age, his use of protected leave, and
because he suffered from a disability. Dkt. #5 at
Defendant alleges that while Plaintiff was on leave, a Ford
audit of Defendant's Service Department wrapped up and
Ford “concluded that [the] Service Department had
submitted a false claim for warranty work that was not
actually performed.” Dkt. #17 at 2- 3. Resultantly,
Ford charged Defendant $24, 859.72 and advised Defendant that
Ford viewed false claim submissions as “a serious
violation of [the] Sales and Service Agreement(s)”
between Defendant and Ford. Id. at 3; Dkt. #18-1.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff was terminated because of the
poor audit result and because Defendant needed to protect its
relationship with Ford by demonstrating “prompt
action” to correct the issue, as requested by Ford.
Dkt. #17 at 3; Dkt. #18-1.
to Plaintiff's termination, a fire occurred at
Defendant's dealership and destroyed all Defendant's
records. Dkt. #17 at 4. In the course of this lawsuit,
Defendant obtained at least some documents from Ford related
to the audit of Defendant's Service Department and
provided them to Plaintiff. Id. However, Plaintiff
believes that records of Ford's audit of Defendant and
other Ford authorized dealerships receiving corporate
services from AutoNation are necessary to its case. Dkt. #20
at 8-9. Plaintiff intends to serve Ford with a subpoena for
“[a]ll warranty audit reports in [Ford's]
possession or control for warranty audits that have been
conducted between years 2013-2016 at the 36 AutoNation Ford
dealerships, and any correspondence regarding discipline or
other remedial actions necessitated by any such audit.”
Dkt. #18-7 at 3. Defendant seeks to quash any such subpoena
and seeks a protective order. Dkt. #17.
Motion to Quash 
serving subpoenas are required to “take reasonable
steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person
subject to the subpoena.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(1). A
subpoena that subjects a person to undue burden should be
quashed or modified. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3).
Defendant seeks to quash a subpoena that Plaintiff intends to
serve on Ford. A motion to quash a subpoena which has not yet
been issued or served is likely not to be ripe. Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(d)(3)(B) (noting circumstances in which a court may quash
or modify subpoenas “[t]o protect a person subject
to or affected by a subpoena”). More importantly,
Defendant seeks to quash a subpoena intended to be served on
a third party.
the Ninth Circuit there remains doubt as to whether a party
has standing to quash a subpoena to a third party on any
basis. See In re Rhodes Cos., LLC, 475 B.R. 733,
738-40 (D. Nev. 2012) (noting that the
“‘legitimate interest' rule [of standing]
applies to criminal subpoenas, ” that the Ninth Circuit
has not applied the “personal right or privilege”
standing rule, and concluding that only the person subject to
the subpoena may bring a motion to quash under current Rule
45(d)(3)(A)). Other courts recognize a party's right to
seek to quash a subpoena served on a non-party at least on
the basis of privilege. See, e.g., Cal.
Sportfishing Prot. Alliance v. Chico Scrap Metal, Inc.,
299 F.R.D. 638, 643 (E.D. Cal. 2014) (noting that the general
rule is that the party has standing only to protect its own
privilege and that the Ninth Circuit has not addressed the
question). Finally, some courts recognize standing to quash a
subpoena issued to a third party where the party has a