United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motions of defendant
Menard, Inc. for a protective order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
action arises from an incident that occurred on December 23,
2014 in which merchandise fell from a display and struck
plaintiff at a Menards store in Ballwin, Missouri. Plaintiff
Richard Parshall alleges that defendant failed to properly
secure the merchandise in the display. Defendant alleges that
the third-party defendant Daniel Streibig was negligent in
handling the merchandise and is thus liable for
and third-party defendant separately served notices to take
the deposition of defendant's corporate designee,
pursuant to Fed. R Civ. P. 30(b)(6). Defendant seeks a
protective order prohibiting plaintiff and third-party
defendant from from soliciting deposition testimony regarding
certain enumerated topics. The defendant also moves for a
protective order with respect to the plaintiff's Rule
34((a)(2) request to inspect and photograph merchandise
displays in the store where the accident occurred.
a party may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged
matter that is relevant to any claim or defense. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The scope of permissible discovery is
broader than the scope of admissibility at trial.
Id. However, “[s]ome threshold showing of
relevance must be made before parties are required to open
wide the doors of discovery and to produce a variety of
information which does not reasonably bear upon the issues in
the case.” Hofer v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 981
F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1992). Furthermore, “even if
relevant, discovery is not permitted where no need is shown,
or compliance would be unduly burdensome, or where harm to
the person from whom discovery is sought outweighs the need
of the person seeking discovery of the information.”
Misc. Docket Matter No. 1 v. Misc. Docket Matter No.
2, 197 F.3d 922, 925 (8th Cir. 1999) (quoting Micro
Motion, Inc. v. Kane Steel Co., 894 F.2d 1318, 1323
(Fed. Cir. 1990)).
26(c) authorizes a court, for good cause, to issue an order
limiting discovery “to protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense.” In order to show good cause, “the
parties seeking protection must show that specific prejudice
or harm will result if no protective order is granted.”
Buehrle v. City of O'Fallon, MO, No. 4:10CV00509
AGF, 2011 WL 529922, at *2 (E.D.Mo. Feb. 8, 2011) (citation
omitted). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating the
necessity of a protective order, “which contemplates
‘a particular and specific demonstration of fact, as
distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory
statements.'” Gen. Dynamics Corp. v. Selb Mfg.
Co., 481 F.2d 1204, 1212 (8th Cir. 1973) (quoting Wright
& Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil §
2035 at 264-65). A district court has broad discretion to
decide when a protective order is appropriate and what degree
of protection is required. Seattle Times Co. v.
Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 36 (1984); Roberts v. Shawnee
Mission Ford, Inc., 352 F.3d 358, 362 (8th Cir. 2003).
1-15 in the plaintiff's and third-party defendant's
deposition notices are identical and are the subject of the
same objections made by defendant. Therefore, they will be
4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 12
argues that Topic Nos. 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 12 are overbroad
because they seek information related to different
Menards' locations, different displays, or different
merchandise involved in the alleged incident. Defendant cites
Laubach v. Otis Elevator Co., 37 F.3d 427, 428 (8th
Cir. 1994), for the proposition that information involving
different displays or stores is not relevant, nor would be
reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible
evidence. However, Laubach focuses on the
admissibility of evidence at trial, not whether the evidence
itself is discoverable. In each of the cases defendant cites,
the parties had to be able to discover the information in
order to argue its admissibility. See also Lovett ex rel.
Lovett v. Union Pac. R. Co., 201 F.3d 1074, 1081-82 (8th
Cir. 2000) (finding that a district court properly excluded
evidence at trial because the evidence was irrelevant).
Defendant argues that incidents involving different
merchandise, different displays or a different store would
not be “substantially similar” to the incident
involved here. But, the materiality of any differences cannot
be known without disclosing the requested information. At
this point, it cannot be said that the discovery being sought
is not relevant to any issue in this case.
also claims that Topics 4, 5, and 7 are overbroad because
they request information that is not admissible at trial.
Federal Rule 26(b)(1) clearly states that “[r]elevant
information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery
appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
admissible evidence.” Each of these requests appears
both relevant and reasonably calculated to lead to the
discovery of admissible evidence.
request for information in Topic 7 is limited to the time
period December 23, 2011 to December 23, 2015. Defendant
fails to show how the request is overbroad as to time, given
this limitation. However, the Court believes it reasonable to