Case 3:09-cv RJB Document 64 Filed 08/13/10 Page 1 of 5

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Case :0-cv-0-RJB Document Filed 0//0 Page of UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 0 RADIATOR EXPRESS WAREHOUSE, INC. d/b/a -00-RADIATOR, v. Plaintiff, PERFORMANCE RADIATOR PACIFIC LLC and PERFORMANCE CONTAINER CO., LLC, Defendants. Case No. 0-RJB ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Performance Radiator Pacific s and Performance Container s (collectively Performance or Defendants ) motion for protective order (Dkt. ). The Court has considered the motion, the response and reply, and the relevant documents herein. The Court and parties are familiar with the underlying facts of the case and will not be repeated. I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY On July, 0, Defendants filed a motion for protective order seeking to prevent discovery regarding financial records and organizational documents. Dkt.. Specifically, Defendants request that they not be required to produce () financial records in response to Plaintiff s request for production ( RFP ) Nos. and, and () documents describing Defendants internal structure and governance in response to RFP,,, and. Dkt., p.. ORDER - Case :0-cv-0-RJB Document Filed 0//0 Page of 0 Plaintiff responds by arguing that the documents requested are relevant. Dkt. 0. Plaintiff specifically states that the financial information is needed to prove liability and damages, and that the organizational documents are needed to determine who may have relevant information regarding Defendants liability. Dkt. 0. II. DISCUSSION A. Legal Standard Parties may obtain discovery, regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party s claim or defense including the... location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. Fed.R.Civ.P. (b)(). Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Id. District courts have broad discretion in determining relevancy for discovery purposes. See Hallett v. Morgan, F.d, (th Cir. 0). A party or any person from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending. Fed.R.Civ.P. (c)(). The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including... forbidding the disclosure or discovery; [and]... forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain matters. Fed.R.Civ.P. (c)()(a) and (D). In order to satisfy the good cause requirement, the moving party must show that specific prejudice or harm will occur if the protective order is not granted. Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., F.d, 0 (th Cir. 0). The Ninth Circuit has stated that broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated reasoning do not satisfy the Rule (c) test. Id. Trial courts are given broad discretion in determining when a protective order is appropriate and to what degree of protection is required. Phillips ex. rel. Estates of Byrd v. General Motors Corp., 0 F.d, - (th Cir. 0). B. Financial Records Defendants state that Plaintiff has requested annual statements going back ten years, ORDER - Case :0-cv-0-RJB Document Filed 0//0 Page of 0 including profit/loss statements, income statements, and statements of cash flow. Dkt., p.. Defendants allege that these records have no bearing on either Defendants liability or Plaintiff s damages. Id. Moreover, Defendants allege that Plaintiff is a direct competitor in a cut-throat industry and that releasing such documents to Plaintiff would cause harm which can not be adequately remedied by the Court. Dkt., p.. Plaintiff states that the requested information is relevant to Defendants liability and Plaintiff s damages. Plaintiff alleges that the discovery is needed to buttress its proof that Performance was responsible for sending to each of its franchisees anonymous letters on two occasions during 0. Dkt. 0, p.. Plaintiff states that the letters were sent out by Performance to demoralize Plaintiff s franchisees, to the financial benefit of the Defendants. Dkt. 0, p.. Plaintiff claims that if it can prove that the Defendants showed financial improvement after the first letter was sent, then authorship of the letters and liability may be established. Dkt. 0, p.. Finally, Plaintiff argues that in regards to Defendants direct competitor concern there is a confidentiality agreement between the parties which protects the information requested. Dkt. 0, p.. The information requested by Plaintiff appears relevant. If there was a financial benefit to Defendant after the letters were sent, then the financial records could be indicative of authorship and it may ultimately show liability. Additionally, there does not appear to be good cause in this situation to grant a protective order preventing disclosure. The Defendants have not shown that there would be specific harm if the financial records were produced. There appears to be a confidentiality agreement between the parties that would mitigate any disclosure. Moreover, the parties are free to agree among themselves who would have access to such information in order to limit competitive disadvantage. Finally, the documents requested appear essential to the Plaintiff s case. The Court does not see a reason to impose the remedy of a complete ban on disclosures of financial documents in this situation. The Defendants motion for protective order should be denied as to financial records for the aforementioned reasons. C. Organizational Documents Defendants state that Plaintiff requested documents related to Performance s internal ORDER - Case :0-cv-0-RJB Document Filed 0//0 Page of 0 structure and governance, including an organizational chart, phone directory, list of phone representatives, and all calendar entries, diaries, and day-planners for all members. Dkt., p.. Defendants argue that Plaintiff is unable to establish the relevance or need for these documents. Id. Defendants state that they have already produced documents identifying all of its corporate members and managing member since. Dkt., p.. Defendants also argue that the burden and expense for Performance to compile the duplicative information in the requested format would outweigh any potential benefit of its production. Id. Plaintiff argues that the information requested is relevant because it is needed to identify witnesses to depose and potentially call at trial. Dkt. 0, p.. Moreover, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants have never produced any organizational documents and the identities of personnel. Dkt. 0, p. -. Finally, Plaintiff argues that the production of records are not burdensome as claimed by the Defendants. Dkt. 0, p.. Plaintiff states that Defendants provides no explanation or projection with respect to the number of hours needed to respond, nor the amount of the expense to be incurred (if any). Id. Plaintiff also notes that the Defendants have requested similar information in a separate motion. Id. The information requested by Plaintiff appears relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The identities and position of personnel within a company is relevant in this situation where the Plaintiff alleges that a letter was sent by Performance. The identity of a person or persons possessing knowledge of the alleged act may be found through organizational documents. Moreover, the information appears necessary in order to identify potential witnesses to depose and call at trial. Next, there is a dispute regarding whether the corporate identities have been produced. It is the burden of the moving party to prove that a protective order is appropriate. Foltz, F.d at0. Defendants have not shown that they produced documents in response to Plaintiff s RFPs. To the contrary, the Defendants responses to the relevant RFPs show that they did not produce any documents. See Dkt., pp.,,, and. Finally, the Defendants have not shown that there would be an undue expense or burden. The Defendants make only broad statements regarding expense and burden. This is not enough ORDER - Case :0-cv-0-RJB Document Filed 0//0 Page of to justify a protective order preventing all disclosure of documents relating to organizational documents. For the foregoing reasons, the Defendants motion for protective order should be denied. III. ORDER The Court does hereby find and ORDER: () Defendants Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. ) is DENIED; and () The Clerk is directed to send copies of this Order all counsel of record and any party appearing pro se at said party s last known address. 0 DATED this th day of August, 0. AROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge ORDER -
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