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Klopman-Baerselman v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp.

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

September 10, 2019

ERIC KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, as Personal Representative for the Estate of RUDIE KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANTS TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION'S AND TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, U.S.A., INC.'S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER PROTECTING THEIR WITNESSES PRODUCED PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. P. 30(B)(6) AND LIMITING CERTAIN DISCOVERY

          ROBERT J. BRYAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants Toyota Motor Corporation's (“TMC”) and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.'s (“TMS”) (collectively “Toyota Defendants”) Motion for Protective Order Protecting Their Witnesses Produced Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6) and Limiting Certain Discovery (“Motion for Protective Order”) (Dkt. 325). The Court has considered the motion, all materials filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, and the remainder of the record herein, and it is fully advised.

         For the reasons set forth below, Toyota Defendants' Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. 325) should be granted, in part, and denied, in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 3, 2019, Plaintiff and Toyota discussed the necessity of a deposition in this case. Toyota Defendants' counsel wrote to Plaintiff's counsel asking whether Plaintiff would accept, in lieu of another deposition, the deposition of Jessica Dean, taken from the “Swasey case” involving TMC. Dkt. 334-1, at 46. Plaintiff's counsel declined. Dkt. 334-1, at 52. Toyota Defendants' counsel requested that Plaintiff serve the notices of deposition “by the end of May to allow them sufficient time to prepare for their depositions[.]” Dkt. 334-1, at 67.

         On May 31, 2019, Plaintiff served notices of deposition to Toyota Defendants. Dkt. 333, at 6. The notices of deposition contained 96 matters of examination (“topics”) and their schedule of documents contained 71 document requests. Dkts. 334-1, at 70-124. Plaintiff contends that, “[a]lthough the notices were lengthy and comprehensive, Toyota, unlike other asbestos defendants, has relatively limited involvement in asbestos litigation. As such, plaintiff could not rely on the prior testimony as heavily as plaintiff often can with other defendants, many of whom have been deposed 50-100 times in asbestos litigation.” Dkt. 333, at 6-7. The TMS deposition was scheduled for September 5, 2019, and the TMC deposition was scheduled for September 12, 2019. Plaintiff notes that this allowed for “over triple the 30-day notice period under FRCP 30(b)(2) and 34(b)(2)(A).” Dkt. 333, at 7.

         On August 8, 2019, [1] Toyota Defendants' counsel wrote to Plaintiff's counsel: “virtually all of the topics and document requests are objectionable due to overbreadth, vagueness, relevance, and lack of particularity.” Dkt. 334-2, at 2. Toyota Defendants' counsel asked to meet and confer regarding the deposition notices and other discovery matters with TMS. Dkt. 334-2, at 2.

         Plaintiff states that, on August 15, 2019, “Plaintiff sent Toyota a significantly shortened deposition notice. Plaintiff made large reductions to nearly every topic, and deleted 23 topics of examination and 21 document requests in their entirety.” Dkt. 333, at 8 (internal citations omitted). Later that day, Plaintiff's counsel and Toyota Defendants' counsel apparently met and conferred telephonically. Dkt. 333, at 8. Plaintiff's counsel apparently deleted 14 additional topics and 7 more document requests, and emailed a red-lined notice to Toyota Defendants. Dkt. 333, at 8. The following day, Toyota Defendants' counsel sent Plaintiff's counsel an email agreeing to review the red-lined notice. Dkt. 334-2, at 81.

         Plaintiff states that, on August 19, 2019, Toyota Defendants' Counsel emailed Plaintiff's counsel that it believed plaintiff's written discovery requests were inconsistent with the Court's orders on other discovery matters. Dkt. 333, at 9. Plaintiff states that “[t]he next communication Plaintiff received from Toyota was when Toyota filed the instant 14-page motion[.]” Dkt. 333, at 9.

         On August 22, 2019, Toyota Defendants filed the instant Motion for Protective Order. Dkt. 325. Toyota Defendants contend that Plaintiff deluged the defendants with deposition topics lacking particularity and not limited to any reasonable boundaries corresponding to vehicles, component parts, facts, or dates at issue in this case. Dkt. 325. Toyota Defendants argue that, although Plaintiff served an amended notice of deposition to TMS, Plaintiff failed to serve TMC. Dkt. 325. Toyota Defendants contend that Plaintiff failed to review pending TMS written discovery following the August 15, 2019 meet and confer, and that the written discovery is duplicative of topics in the deposition notices. Dkt. 325. Toyota Defendants also argue that the Court should protect privileged documents and materials from production. Dkt. 325, at 13.

         Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the instant motion. Dkt. 333. Plaintiff makes three primary arguments: (1) Toyota Defendants prejudiced Plaintiff by waiting 74 days to object to Plaintiff's deposition notices; (2) Plaintiff's deposition notices and discovery are relevant and proportional to the needs of the case; and (3) Toyota did not meaningfully meet and confer regarding the written discovery and the amended deposition emailed after the meet and confer on August 15, 2019. Dkt. 333.

         Toyota Defendants filed a reply in support of the instant motion. Dkt. 337.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The rules guiding this order were laid out well by the Court in Boyer v. Reed Smith, LLP, C12-5815 RJB, 2013 WL 5724046, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 21, 2013):

Pursuant to Fed. R .Civ. P. 30(b)(6), a party may serve notice on an organization that describes “with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested.” The noticed organization must then “designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or other persons who consent to testify on its behalf.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6). “The persons so designated shall ...

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