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McMahon v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 14, 2019

JEFFREY MCMAHON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT BOSCH TOOL CORP., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This diversity matter is before the Court on plaintiff Jeffrey McMahon's Second Amended Motion to Compel production of documents against defendant Robert Bosch Tool Corp. (“Bosch”).[1] Defendant Bosch opposes the motion. Plaintiff did not file a reply in support and the time to do so has passed, so the motion is fully briefed. The Court normally rules on discovery motions only at its monthly discovery motion docket, but reserves the right to issue a written ruling at its discretion.

         This is a products liability case in which plaintiff alleges he suffered injuries on April 28, 2016 when the handle of a RotoZip Model RZ20 hand-held saw he was using detached from the body of the saw, causing plaintiff to drop the saw while the blade was still in motion. Plaintiff asserts claims under theories of negligent and strict products liability for design defect, failure to warn, and negligent supply of a dangerous instrumentality. See Amended Complaint, Doc. 4.

         Plaintiff's motion asserts that some of Bosch's responses to his Request for Production of documents served on or about October 5, 2018 are incomplete and insufficient, as its objections are improper or without merit. Plaintiff seeks to compel further responses to Requests for Production Nos. 4, 10, 14, 18, 21, 26-28, 39, and 40-47. Plaintiff's motion fails to offer any information or explanation as to why the requested discovery is relevant, i.e., why it is important to the issues in this case, or why Bosch's responses are incomplete and insufficient. The motion to compel would be subject to denial on that basis alone, but because discovery has closed and the deadline for filing motions to compel has passed, the Court will address the motion's merits.

         A. Legal Standard

         The Court is mindful that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b), as amended December 1, 2015, imposes a proportionality requirement on the scope of discovery:

(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         Rule 26(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P. “The parties and the court have a collective responsibility to consider the proportionality of all discovery and consider it in resolving discovery disputes.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 advisory committee's notes to 2015 amendment).

         “[T]he standard of relevance in the context of discovery is broader than in the context of admissibility” but “[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). “The party who served the discovery must show why the information is important to the issues and the party opposing . . . must quantifiably explain the burden of providing the requested information.” Vallejo v. Amgen, Inc., 903 F.3d 733, 740 (8th Cir. 2018) (quoting magistrate judge's order).

         B. Discussion

         1. Objections for Requests as to Confidential Proprietary Information and Trade Secrets

         Bosch states that it objected to Request Nos. 4, 10, 14, 21, 26, 27, and 46 in part because those Requests seek confidential proprietary information and trade secrets. Bosch states that after the parties agreed to a Protective Order (Doc. 30), it produced 111 pages of Confidential documents to plaintiff on January 4, 2019. Plaintiff's motion states that Bosch failed to supplement its responses following an email exchange between counsel that ended February 15, 2019, but Bosch states it produced an additional 469 pages of Confidential documents on March 4 and 5, 2019, and 54 photographs, two videos, and an eleven-page Bosch report documenting additional testing of the saw handle on June 25, 2019, in response to plaintiff's Notice of Deposition for a Peter Domeny.

         Plaintiff did not reply to Bosch's representations as to production and the Court therefore accepts them as true. Consequently, the Court finds that plaintiff's motion to compel is moot with respect to documents Bosch initially withheld in response to plaintiff's Request Nos. 4, 10, 14, 21, 26, 27, and 46 on the basis that they sought confidential proprietary information and trade secrets.

         2. Objection to Definition of “the ...


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