United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
RICHARB JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on Defendant Flow International
Corporation's ("Flow") Motion to Quash Subpoena
and for a Protective Order ("Motion"). Dkt. # 91.
Plaintiff Ruiz Fajardo Ingenieros Asociados S.A.S. "Ruiz
Fajardo") has opposed this Motion, and Defendant has
filed a Reply. Dkt. ## 95, 102. For the reasons stated below,
the Court GRANTS Flow's Motion.
trial in this matter concluded with a verdict for Ruiz
Fajardo on February 7, 2019. Dkt. # 74. On February 11, 2019
Ruiz Fajardo requested attorney billing information from
Flow, including all invoices, billing statements, batch
statements, hourly rates, expert witness fees, and costs
associated with this matter. Dkt. # 92, Ex. A. The following
day, Ruiz Fajardo formally served Flow with its second set of
interrogatories and requests for production of documents
requesting this information and a notice of subpoena to DLA
Piper. Dkt. # 92, Ex. B. Ruiz Fajardo formally served a
subpoena on DLA Piper on February 14, 2019. Id., Ex.
D. Flow objects to this attempted discovery into its
counsel's billing information, Dkt. # 91.
courts have significant discretion to control discovery.
See Fed. R. Civ. P, 26(b)(1); see also Little v.
City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988).
District courts may issue protective orders "to protect
a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression,
or undue burden or expense," that would result from the
disclosure of certain discovery. Fed. R, Civ, P. 26(c)(1)(A).
The party seeking a protective order has the burden of
proving that good cause exists for the entry of the order.
Phillips ex rel Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors
Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002).
Additionally, on timely motion, district courts must quash or
modify a subpoena that "subjects a person to undue
burden." Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A)(iv). Courts in this
District have ruled that subpoenas that seek to compel
information that is irrelevant to the claims at issue
inherently impose an undue burden. See, e.g.,
Jimenez v. City of Chicago, 733 F.Supp.2d 1268, 1273
(W.D. Wash. 2010).
Court agrees with Flow that the discovery Ruiz Fajardo seeks
into DLA Piper's billing information is overbroad,
burdensome, and of minimal relevance. First, the requested
attorney time records likely implicate information protected
by the attorney-client privilege. See Travelers Prop.
Cos. Co. of Am. v. Centex Homes, No. 11-3638-SC, 2013 WL
707918, at *l (N.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2013) ("Under Ninth
Circuit authority, 'attorney-client privilege embraces
attorney time, records and statements to the extent that they
reveal litigation strategy and the nature of the services
provided.'") (citing Real v. Cont 7
Group, Inc., 116 F.R.D. 211, 213 (N.D. Cal. 1986));
Bell v. Ken Lee, No. 13-CV-05820-SI, 2017 WL
1956828, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2017) (stating that
invoices and agreements such as "correspondence, bills,
ledgers, statements, and time records which also reveal the
motive of the client in seeking representation, litigation
strategy, or the specific nature of the services provided,
such as researching particular areas of law, fall within the
[attorney-client] privilege.") (citing Clarke v. Am.
Commerce Nat. Bank, 974 F.2d 127, 129 (9th Cir. 1992)).
Although Ruiz Fajardo has requested that Flow redact all
privileged information contained within these records, the
Court agrees with Flow that doing so for the entirety of the
billing records in this long-running case would impose a
substantial burden, to limited benefit.
Ruiz Fajardo claims that Flow's billing information is
necessary to establish the reasonableness of its requested
fees. Dkt, # 95 at 1-2, 7-10. The Court disagrees, and does
not believe that the billing records of Flow's counsel
will be helpful or necessary in ruling on Ruiz Fajardo's
Motion for Attorney's Fees. The Court is adequately
prepared to use its own familiarity with the case, law, and
applicable billing rates in the Puget Sound area, to rule on
the reasonableness of Ruiz Fajardo's claimed fees. This
Court routinely rules on these sorts of requests frequently,
without reference to opposing counsel's billing
information, and it is capable of doing so again in this
Fajardo is also concerned the Flow will be disingenuous or
hypocritical in arguing the reasonableness of time Ruiz
Fajardo's counsel spent on certain tasks. Dkt. # 95 at
8-9, However, Flow's Opposition to Ruiz Fajardo's
Motion for Attorney Fees (Dkt. # 84) did not echo this
concern; instead, it argued that Ruiz Fajardo's award
should be reduced because (a) it was substantially larger
than the jury verdict; and (b) for time spent on clerical
work, unsuccessful claims, and for "unproductive"
time at trial purportedly spent on video editing. Dkt. #93.
The Court is already familiar with the parties' behavior
during trial and does not require additional evidence from
Flow to consider these arguments.
the Court already has adequate briefing and information from
both parties to rule on Ruiz Fajardo's Motion for
Attorney's Fees. Additional discovery into Flow's
billing records would be unnecessary, likely overly
burdensome to Flow, and would only further delay the ultimate
resolution of this case. The Court finds it appropriate to
GRANT Flow's request to quash Ruiz
Fajardo's subpoena and issue a limited protective order
preventing Flow from disclosing its billing records.
reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS
Flow's Motion. Dkt. #m Ruiz Fajardo's subpoena
against DLA Piper is hereby QUASHED. Flow