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RJB Wholesale, Inc. v. Castleberry

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

April 26, 2018

RJB WHOLESALE, INC, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFREY CASTLEBERRY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL

          Marsha J. Pechman United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel. (Dkt. No. 32.) Having reviewed the Motion, the Response (Dkt. No. 38), the Reply (Dkt. No. 40), and all related papers, the Court GRANTS the Motion in its entirety.

         Background

         Plaintiff RJB Wholesale, Inc. (“RJB”) filed this suit against Defendant Jeffrey Castleberry for misappropriation of trade secrets including its customer database and other confidential business information. (See Dkt. No. 1.) RJB alleges that in August 2016, Defendant, a former employee, abruptly resigned and promptly went to work for RJB's competitor, North American Pipe & Steel (“NAPSteel”). (Id.) During the course of discovery, Defendant served various requests, to which he claims RJB has failed to provide adequate responses. (Dkt. No. 32 at 2; see also Dkt. No. 33, Ex. A.) Defendant now moves to compel complete responses to these requests.

         Discussion

         Defendant contends that RJB has failed to provide substantive responses to requests regarding damages (Interrogatory No. 4; RFP No. 11; RFP No. 12); the existence of a trade secret (RFP No. 3, RFP No. 5); and the identities of its independent contractors (Interrogatory No. 2). The Court considers each of these categories in turn:

         A. Evidence of Damages

         Defendant propounded the following requests seeking evidence related to RJB's alleged damages:

Interrogatory No. 4: Please provide the following information regarding RJB's accounts receivable: (i) The amounts of all monthly revenues received from each of RJB's customers for the period of August 1, 2009 to present; and (ii) The amounts, dates, customer names, and circumstances of any unpaid invoices sixty (60) or more days past due, whether or not such losses have been written off by RJB.
RFP No. 11: All documents and communications demonstrating, evidencing, or relating to RJB's loss of sales, revenue, or other business because of either or both (i) Castleberry's employment with NAPSteel and/or (ii) Castleberry's alleged use of RJB's customer list, customer database, historical sales data, customer preference data, or confidential information.
RFP No. 12: All documents and communications evidencing, memorializing, demonstrating, or relating to any damages that you allege to have suffered as a result of any conduct or omission by Castleberry.

(Dkt. No. 33, Ex. A at 8, 16.)

         RJB responds that it cannot identify its damages until NAPSteel provides “documents . . . necessary for RJB to determine which of RJB's customers Castleberry stole, and with which NAPSteel had prior relationships.” (Dkt. No. 38 at 2.) With regard to Interrogatory No. 4, RJB claims that it requests information “not proportional” and “of zero importance to the case.” (Dkt. No. 38 at 5.) While RJB concedes that “some information requested in this interrogatory will be highly relevant . . . namely RJB customers that RJB lost business from because of Castleberry's nefarious acts, ” it claims, without further explanation, that it cannot produce any evidence of its monthly revenues until NAPSteel produces documents responsive to RJB's subpoena (i.e., until NAPSteel turns over its own customer lists). (Id. at 2, 5-6.) With regard to RFP Nos. 11 and 12, RJB responds that “NAP Steel and Castleberry hold all of the documents which show which RJB customers Castleberry took or did business with using RJB trade secrets, ” and “[u]ntil RJB has this information, it is impossible for RJB to determine damages.” (Id. at 6.)

         The Court is not persuaded. RJB bears the burden of proving it lost customers to NAPSteel as a result of Defendant's conduct, and was thereby damaged. RJB's contention that it still cannot do so, nearly a year and a half after filing this case, leads the Court to infer that ...


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