United States District Court, D. Colorado
GERALD STUARD CLAY, GERALD PAUL CLAY, and JEFFREY CLAY, Plaintiffs,
RICHARD GENE LAMBERT, MALISSA HELOISE HILL, and MIDWEST TRANSPORT, LLC, Defendants.
Michael E. Hegarty, United States Magistrate Judge.
seek to quash a subpoena Plaintiffs served on Verizon
Wireless-Defendants' cell phone carrier. The subpoena
requests Defendants' phone records for the day before and
the day of the accident underlying this case. According to
Defendants, the subpoena is overbroad and seeks information
over which they have a legitimate privacy interest. The Court
quashes the subpoena to the extent it seeks the specific
phone numbers to which Defendants made calls or sent messages
and the substance of communications Defendants had while
using their cell phones. However, Plaintiffs are entitled to
information Verizon maintains about the cell towers
Defendants' phones accessed. Accordingly, the Court
modifies the subpoena so as to request only permissible
filed the operative Amended Complaint against Defendants on
February 24, 2017. ECF No. 21. Plaintiffs assert they were
injured in an automobile collision on December 23, 2014.
Id. ¶¶ 14-16. According to Plaintiffs, at
the time of the accident Defendants Richard Lambert and
Malissa Hill were operating a semi-truck owned by Defendant
Midwest Transport, LLC. Id. ¶ 10. The truck
jack-knifed on the freeway and blocked all lanes of traffic.
Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiffs, who were traveling behind
Defendants, collided with the side of the truck. Id.
assert causes of action for negligence and recklessness
against all Defendants and vicarious liability and negligence
in hiring against Midwest Transport only. Id.
¶¶ 18-27. The Court issued a Scheduling Order on
April 25, 2017, ECF No. 38, and the parties proceeded with
August 3, 2017, Plaintiffs served a subpoena on Verizon
Wireless seeking Defendants Lambert's and Hill's cell
phone records from December 22, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. through
December 23, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. Subpoena Duces Tecum 2, ECF
No. 40-1. Defendants moved to quash the subpoena on August
17, 2017. Mot. to Quash Subpoena, ECF No. 40. Defendants
argue the subpoena is overbroad and seeks irrelevant
information over which they have a legitimate privacy
interest. Id. at 2. Plaintiffs respond that the data
indicating what cell towers Defendants' phones accessed
will show Defendants' travel route leading up to the
accident. Resp. to Mot. to Quash Subpoena 6, ECF No. 47.
Plaintiffs intend to use this information to demonstrate that
Defendants failed to take sufficient rest stops and were
fatigued at the time of the accident. Id. at 7.
Furthermore, Plaintiffs contend Lambert and Hill do not have
a legitimate privacy interest in their location while driving
for Midwest Transport. Id. at 8-9. Defendants filed
their reply brief on September 21, 2017. Reply in Supp. of
Mot. to Quash Subpoena, ECF No. 49. Defendants assert that
although Plaintiffs may be entitled to the cell tower
records, the subpoena is not narrowly tailored to request
only this data. Id. at 3. Because the subpoena also
seeks confidential and irrelevant information, Defendants
urge the Court to quash the subpoena in its entirety.
Id. at 3-4. Furthermore, Defendants advise the Court
that they served an identical subpoena on Verizon and will
provide Plaintiffs with any relevant information Verizon
produces in response. Id.
scope of discovery under the federal rules is broad.”
Gomez v. Martin Marietta Corp., 50 F.3d 1511, 1520
(10th Cir. 1995). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1)
permits discovery regarding any nonpriviliged matter that is
relevant to a party's claim or defense and proportional
to the needs of the case. Federal Rule of Evidence 401
defines relevant evidence as “evidence having any
tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of
consequence to the determination of the action more or less
probable than it would be without the evidence.” In
considering whether the discovery is proportional to the
needs of the case, Rule 26(b)(1) instructs courts to analyze
“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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).
The party objecting to discovery must establish that the
requested information does not fall under the scope of
discovery as defined in Fed. R. Civ. P 26(b)(1). Simpson
v. University of Colo., 220 F.R.D. 354, 359 (D. Colo
subpoena served on a third party pursuant to Rule 45 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is subject to the same
standards that govern discovery between the parties-it must
seek relevant information and be proportional to the needs of
the case. Segura v. Allstate Fire & Cas.
Co., No. 16-cv-00047-NYW, 2016 WL 8737864, at *5 (D.
Colo. Oct. 11, 2016) (citing Rice v. United States,
164 F.R.D. 556, 556-57 (N.D. Okla. 1995)). Rule 45 requires
courts to quash or modify a subpoena that “(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). Additionally, a court may quash a subpoena if it
requires disclosure of a trade secret or other confidential
information. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(B).
relevant part, ...