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Collection v. Coleman

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 10, 2018

INFINITY HOME COLLECTION, Movant,
v.
JAMAL COLEMAN, and SHEENA COLEMAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Respondents/Plaintiffs,
v.
WEYERHAEUSER COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO QUASH

          Michael E. Hegarty, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Movant Infinity Home Collection (“Infinity”) seeks to quash Plaintiffs Jamal Coleman and Sheena Coleman's subpoena. I first find that, although disfavored, class-wide discovery is not prohibited at this stage. I then find that five of Plaintiffs' six requests seek relevant, non-burdensome, and non-privileged information. However, Infinity's motion is moot as to the sixth disputed request. Therefore, I deny in part and deny as moot in part Infinity's Motion to Quash Subpoena.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 4, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against Weyerhaeuser Company in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. See Compl., ECF No. 1, No. 17-cv- 01093-JFB-SRF (D. Del. Aug. 4, 2017). Weyerhaeuser produces and sells joists, which are installed in homes and other structures. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 27. Plaintiffs allege Weyerhaeuser attempted to enhance the fire protection of its TJI joists by coating them with “Flak Jacket Protection.” Id. ¶¶ 23-24. However, according to Plaintiffs, the Flak Jacket Protection contains a formaldehyde-based resin, which emits excessive levels of noxious and toxic gases. Id. ¶¶ 26, 34. These gases allegedly render homes unhabitable. Id. ¶ 34.

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs assert claims for: (1) breach of express warranty, (2) breach of implied warranty of merchantability, (3) violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, (4) negligence, (5) negligent failure to warn, (6) violation of the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act, (7) unjust enrichment, and (8) declaratory relief. Id. ¶¶ 58-146. Plaintiffs assert these claims on behalf of themselves and all individuals and entities who own or have signed contracts to purchase homes in which Weyerhaeuser's joists are installed. Id. ¶ 1.

         On November 20, 2017, Magistrate Judge Sherry Fallon issued a Scheduling Order. Scheduling Order, ECF No. 14, No. 17-cv-01093-JFB-SRF (D. Del. Nov. 20, 2017). This order sets August 1, 2018 as the deadline for a class certification motion. Id. at 6. Additionally, the order states that the parties will prioritize discovery relating to class certification issues. Id. at 2.

         On November 29, 2017, Plaintiffs served a subpoena on Infinity-one of the thirty-five entities that constructed homes with the allegedly defective joists. See Subpoena, ECF No. 1-3; Reply in Supp. of Mot. to Quash 3, ECF No. 27 (“Infinity acknowledges that it was one of the thirty-five (35) builders.”). The subpoena contains eighteen requests for documents. Subpoena 4-7. On December 14, 2017, Infinity filed the present Motion to Quash Subpoena in this District. Mot. to Quash, ECF No. 1. Infinity contends the subpoena impermissibly seeks merits-related discovery, does not allow a reasonable time to comply, seeks disclosure of privileged information, subjects it to undue burden, and impermissibly asks for information in Weyerhaeuser's possession. Id. at 4-7. Plaintiffs' response brief notes that the parties have narrowed the scope of the subpoena to six requests. Resp. to Mot. to Quash 6, ECF No. 21. Plaintiffs argue these requests seek relevant and non-burdensome information. Id. at 6-16. After Plaintiffs filed their brief, Infinity partially responded to the remaining requests. Reply in Supp. of Mot. to Quash 8-10, ECF No. 27. However, Plaintiffs still believe that Infinity's production was inadequate. Id. at 10.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         I. Rule 26(b)(1)

         “[T]he 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. Simpson v. University of Colo., 220 F.R.D. 354, 359 (D. Colo 2004).

         II. Rule 45

         A subpoena served on a third party pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 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. Ins. 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 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 the subpoena requires disclosure of a trade secret or other confidential information. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(B).

         ANALYSIS

         I deny Infinity's request to quash the subpoena. I first find that pre-certification discovery is not limited to class-certification issues unless the discovery would pose an undue burden on the responding party. Then, I find that requests six, nine, eleven, twelve, and sixteen seek relevant, non-privileged, and non-burdensome information. I ...


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