United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
C.C., through his natural mother and guardian, MELANIE GINNEVER, Plaintiffs,
SUZUKI MANUFACTURING OF AMERICA CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD WEBBER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants Suzuki
Manufacturing of America Corporation and Suzuki Motor
Corporation's Motion for Protective Order Regarding
Plaintiff's Rule 30(b)(6) Notice of Deposition of
Non-Party Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.  and Defendant
Suzuki Motor Corporation's Motion for Protective Order
Regarding Plaintiff's First Set of Request for Admissions
Directed to Defendant Suzuki Motor Corporation .
August 4, 2016, Plaintiff C.C., through his natural mother
and guardian, Melanie Ginnever, (“Plaintiff”)
filed a complaint in this Court against Suzuki Motor of
America, Inc. (“SMAI”) and Suzuki Manufacturing
of America Corporation (“SMAC”). Plaintiff was
injured when an ATV he was driving rolled over on top of him.
Plaintiff alleges the subject ATV, designed, manufactured,
assembled, sold, and distributed by SMAI and SMAC, was in a
defective condition and was unreasonably dangerous, and SMAI
and SMAC were negligent in designing, manufacturing,
distributing, and selling the ATV. On June 21, 2017,
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint removing SMAI as a
defendant and adding Suzuki Motor Corporation
(“SMC”). On December 20, 2017, this Court entered
an amended case management order which closed discovery
between Plaintiff and SMAC and set a deadline of April 30,
2018, to complete discovery with SMC. Defendants SMAC and SMC
(“Defendants”) filed the pending motions
asserting Plaintiff is extending discovery outside of the
deadlines in the case management order, is seeking more
depositions than allowed by the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure (“FRCP”), and served requests for
admissions which have no purpose but to harass and oppress
SMC and subject it to undue burden and expense.
26(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a
court to issue orders concerning discovery to protect parties
from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense” on a showing of good cause.
“Although the federal rules permit liberal discovery,
it ‘is [to be] provided for the sole purpose of
assisting in the preparation and trial, or the settlement, of
litigated disputes.'” Miscellaneous Docket
Matter No. 1 v. Miscellaneous Docket Matter No. 2, 197
F.3d 922, 925 (8th Cir. 1999) (quoting Seattle Times Co.
v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 34 (1984)). “Because of
liberal discovery and the potential for abuse, the federal
rules ‘confer[ ] broad discretion on the [district]
court to decide when a protective order is appropriate and
what degree of protection is required.'”
Id. (quoting Seattle Times, 467 U.S. at
36). The moving party has the burden to demonstrate good
cause for issuance of the protective order and his claim of
harm is based on more than stereotypical and conclusory
statements. Id. at 926 (citing General Dynamics
Corp. v. Selb Mfg. Co., 481 F.2d 1204, 1212 (8th Cir.
SMC and SMAC request the Court enter a protective order
prohibiting Plaintiff from deposing SMAI through a FRCP
30(b)(6) deposition. Defendants argue Plaintiff has already
taken the ten depositions as allowed by the FRCP, the request
is outside of the discovery deadlines set in the amended case
management order, it will cause undue burden and expense, and
the request is overbroad and seeks irrelevant information. In
response, Plaintiff argues defense counsel did not
meaningfully meet and confer, there is no reason why the
deposition should not be taken, Plaintiff has only taken six
fact depositions, and the notice is limited and proportional
to the needs of the case.
26(a)(2) requires a party to obtain leave of court if the
deposition request would result in more than ten depositions
being taken by the party. In this case, Plaintiff has taken
six depositions of fact witnesses and four depositions of
experts. There is not clear case law on whether expert
depositions are included in the ten deposition limit in the
FRCP. See C & C Jewelry Mfg., Inc. v. West, No.
C09-01303 JF (HRL), 2011 WL 767839 at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 28,
2011) (not including expert depositions in the ten deposition
limit). The Court need not determine if expert depositions
are included in the FRCP limit because Plaintiff's
request for one additional deposition is proportional to the
needs of the case and is reasonable.
the Court agrees with Defendants the deposition is outside
the discovery deadlines set forth in the amended case
management order. The Court limited additional discovery to
SMC and Plaintiff, not third-parties. However, due to the
limited purpose of the deposition and the relevance of the
information sought to Plaintiff's case, the Court will
permit Plaintiff to take the deposition outside the discovery
deadlines. In the future, Plaintiff shall seek leave of the
Court, as required by the FRCP, before issuing subpoenas
outside the discovery deadlines. Plaintiff shall also pay for
the reasonable travel costs incurred by Defendants for the
additional deposition and the cost of the transcript being
provided to Defendants. Further, the Court will limit the
deposition to 90 minutes.
the Court will limit the topics listed in the deposition
notice because some of the information sought is overbroad
and irrelevant. Plaintiff shall limit the information sought
to time periods when SMAI is in existence. Plaintiff shall
also issue a new notice limiting what is included as a
substantially similar ATV, as three-wheelers are not
substantially similar to the four-wheeler subject ATV at
issue in this case. Any topics in the notice which list
“the Subject ATV or any Suzuki ATV” shall be
limited to the subject ATV or substantially similar ATVs. The
Court expects the parties to confer as to what information
Plaintiff needs to further limit the information requested to
ensure the deposition is efficient and productive. For the
above stated reasons, the Court will grant, in part, and
deny, in part, Defendants' Motion for Protective Order.
Requests for Admissions
SMC seeks a protective order limiting Plaintiff's First
Set of Request for Admissions Directed to Defendant SMC.
According to SMC, the requests are redundant and harassing
and the answers have already been provided in corporate
disclosures or other discovery. Further, SMC claims many of
the requests are disputed issues not appropriate for a
request for admission and would require defense counsels'
conclusions which are protected as work-product. Plaintiff
argues the requests are not excessive or burdensome because