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Taber v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 27, 2017

STEVEN W. TABER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SARAH W. HAYS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is the motion of non-party Autoliv Asp, Inc.'s Motion to Quash Third-Party Subpoena. (Doc. #1) On or about October 21, 2017, Autoliv Asp, Inc. (hereafter Autoliv) was served a subpoena duces tecum seeking the production of documents and deposition testimony for use in the case of Steven and Renee Taber v. Ford Motor Company, Case No. 16-CV-162-SWH pending in the Western District of Missouri. (Doc. #1-1) The deposition was scheduled for Bingham Farms, Michigan and set forth ten areas of inquiry for which testimony from a representative of Autoliv was sought. (Doc. #1-1, at 4) Additionally, plaintiffs sought production of four categories of documents. (Doc. #1-1 at 5)

         On November 16, 2016, Autoliv filed a motion to quash in the United State District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan where the deposition of Autoliv was scheduled to be taken. (Doc. #1) The Eastern District transferred the matter to this Court on March 14, 2017. (Doc. #7)

         I. BACKGROUND OF THE TABER LAWSUIT

         On July 8, 2014, plaintiff Steven Taber was injured when his 1996 Ford Ranger was involved in an offset frontal impact with another vehicle. (Case No. 16-cv-00162-SWH, Doc. #43, at 1) Plaintiffs thereafter sued Ford Motor Company for, inter alia, product liability. (Id., at ¶¶14-53) Specifically, plaintiffs argue that due to “defects in the body shell, driver's restraint system including the seatbelt, airbag and sensing system and associated component parts, [plaintiff] suffered enhanced injuries in the collision that he would not have otherwise suffered . . . .” (Id., at ¶10)

         Through discovery, plaintiffs sought information pertaining to “why the airbag did not deploy and whether the [Diagnostic Monitor] has stored fault codes.” (Doc. #2, at 2) Defendant informed plaintiffs that documents relating to the Diagnostic Monitor (hereafter “DM”) were in the possession of Autoliv. (Ex. #2-4, at 4-5; Ex. #2-5, at 4-5; Ex. #2-6, at 4-8; Ex. #2-7, at 2)

         Autoliv is not a party to the instant action, but it is alleged that Autoliv came into possession of certain documents related to the DM for the 1996 Ford Ranger as part of a purchase agreement. (Doc. #1, at 2; Doc. #2, at 1; Doc. #2-2, at 1) Autoliv's counsel in correspondence to plaintiff's counsel stated that:

Notwithstanding the invalidity of your subpoena, Autoliv is willing to continue to work with you and Ford Motor Company with respect to a 1996 Ford Ranger pickup truck. As Autoliv has advised you on several occasions, Autoliv did not supply the Diagnostic Monitor (DM) for the 1996 Ford Ranger. Rather, as you are well aware, the DM for the 1996 Ford Ranger was manufactured by Ford Electronics Lighting Division (Ford ELD). Later, Ford ELD was rolled into Visteon before ultimately sold. Autoliv purchased a portion of Visteon in 2002. As part of this acquisition, Autoliv came to be in possession of some documents applicable to the 1996 Ford Ranger.

(Doc. # 2-2 at 1)

         II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(d)(3)(A) requires a court to quash or modify a subpoena which:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3)(A). Third party subpoenas are “subject to the same discovery limitations as those set out in Rule 26.” United States v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 10-CV-14155, 2012 WL 4513600, at *5 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 1, 2012). Rule 26, which allows for broad discovery, permits ‚Äúdiscovery regarding any nonprivileged matter ...


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