United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.
case is a dispute over plastic bags costing $1.322 each.
Defendant CompanionLabs Systems, Inc.,
(“CompanionLabs”) sells t-shirts to the public,
and previously packaged its shirts in bags obtained from
Plaintiff State Line Bag Co., LLC (“State Line
before the Court is a discovery dispute concerning
Plaintiff's response to twenty-one of Defendant's
interrogatories and requests for production of documents.
After reviewing the parties' memoranda regarding the
discovery dispute (Docs. 18 and 19) and hearing argument from
counsel during a teleconference held on March 27, 2018, the
Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's
motion for discovery.
purchased plastic bags from State Line Bag on a
purchase-order basis. At some point, State Line Bag procured
100, 000 bags (the “disputed bags”) from its
supplier with the understanding that CompanionLabs would
purchase them. State Line Bag alleges the agreed upon price
for these bags was $1.322 each. The bags are customized with
CompanionLabs's logo, although it's unclear whether
the bags were purchased from the supplier customized or
whether State Line Bag customized the bags. CompanionLabs
subsequently terminated its business relationship with State
Line Bag without purchasing the disputed bags.
Line Bag filed a two-count lawsuit for breach of contract and
promissory estoppel in Jackson County, Missouri, seeking
$132, 200 in damages ($1.322 per bag multiplied by 100, 000
bags). CompanionLabs removed the case to this Court and
asserted several defenses including: (1) the parties did not
have a contract; (2) the bags are a fungible item and not
custom; and (3) it did not approve or ratify State Line
Bag's purchase of 100, 000 bags. CompanionLabs also
challenges State Line Bag's damages calculation.
served interrogatories and request for production of
documents. State Line Bag objected to twenty-one
interrogatories and requests on two grounds: (1) the
information or documents are not relevant or material to the
issues in the case; and (2) “that the information
sought is confidential and proprietary in nature, and the
release of such information would seriously jeopardize, and
be detrimental to, Plaintiff's business.”
See (Doc. 18-3). The discovery requests can be
categorized into two categories: (1) information pertaining
to the purchase-order derived orders; and (2) the disputed
Line Bag generally states that the information sought is not
relevant. It also argues revealing information related to its
suppliers and costs would be detrimental to its business
because nothing would prevent CompanionLabs from doing
business directly with State Line Bag's suppliers. State
Line Bag states a protective order would not provide
argues all of the information sought is relevant to the
central issues in this case namely: (1) the identity and
correspondence between State Line Bag and its suppliers goes
to the timeline of events and the issue of contract
formation, the contract's terms, and promissory reliance;
(2) information about whether the bags were custom-made is
relevant to the contract's terms, breach, damages, and
promissory reliance; (3) information about the manufacturing
costs of the disputed bags is relevant to the measure of
damages under a lost profits model; (4) the wholesale costs
of the disputed bags is relevant to a contract-market or
contract-resale damages model; and (5) information about
wholesale vendors is relevant to the marketplace for the
disputed bags and the measure of damages.
generally may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged
matter that is relevant to any claim or defense if it is
proportional to the needs of the case. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope of
discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be
discoverable.” Id. The rule requires a party
objecting to discovery to show specifically how each
discovery request is irrelevant or otherwise not subject to
discovery. See Id. at 33(b)(4), 34(b).
Court finds information relating to the disputed bags is
discoverable because it is the central issue of this case,
whether a contract was formed, the contract's terms,
calculation of damages, and State Line Bags's promissory
estoppel claim. Additionally, whether CompanionLab's logo
was applied to the disputed bags by a supplier or State Line
Bag is relevant to the issue of whether the bags are
specially manufactured, custom goods. Accordingly,
CompanionLabs's request for discovery is granted as to
interrogatories 6, 7, 8, 9 (to the extent 9 is limited to the
disputed bags), 10, and 12 (limited to the disputed bags),
and requests for production 8, 9, 13, 14 (limited to the
disputed bags), 15, and 16.
time, information relating to orders State Line Bag made with
its suppliers for orders not concerning the disputed bags is
not relevant. Accordingly, CompanionLabs's request for
discovery is denied without prejudice as to interrogatories
3, 4, and 5, and requests for production 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and
6. If, through the course of this litigation, additional
information is uncovered that could support a finding that
other orders with State Line Bag's suppliers may be
relevant, the parties can revisit this issue.
the Court understands State Line Bag's concern with
revealing certain trade information with CompanionLabs.
However, that does not shield the information from discovery.
The Court encourages the parties to work together to develop
a mutually agreeable solution to address State ...