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Robe v. Allender

April 30, 2010

GLENFORD YELLOW ROBE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STEVE ALLENDER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeffrey L. VIKEN United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff's verified complaint asserts claims of racial discrimination/ hostile work environment under Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.), retaliation under Title VII, and corresponding claims under South Dakota law. (Docket 1). Plaintiff asserts damages for "backpay, front pay, and the value of lost employment and retirement benefits . . . [and] damages . . . for emotional distress. . . ." Id. p. 23. Defendants' answer specifically denies plaintiff's claims and asserts a number of affirmative defenses. (Docket 12, p. 11).

By a subpoena duces tecum (Docket 48), defendants served Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC, d/b/a Dacotah Liquors, directing the production of certain documents for the deposition of Geraldine Yellow Robe.*fn1 (Docket 45). By agreement between defense counsel and counsel for deponent, those requests were clarified and intended to cover the following documents:

1. All corporate records of Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC, from its inception to the date of the deposition including the By-Laws, Corporate Minutes, Corporate Resolutions, Stock Ledger Sheets, Stock Certificates, and all documents authorizing any action taken by Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC.

2. Federal Tax Returns filed by Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC, from its inception to the date of the deposition, including K-1's issued to any members.

3. All documents evidencing the purchase of any real or personal property as it concerns the business operated as Dacotah Liquors at 418 Knollwood Drive, Rapid City, South Dakota 57701, including, but not limited to, Letters of Intent, Purchase Agreements, Addendums, Amendments, Bills of Sale, and any and all documents identifying any obligation to purchase and/or sell that real and personal property more fully identified herein.

4. All bank documents including correspondence, bank notes, mortgages, or other documentation evidencing any indebtedness between Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC, and any entity including any indebtedness which is guaranteed by Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC, and/or any of its members including, but not limited to, Geraldine Yellow Robe, Glenford Yellow Robe or any other individual.

5. All documents identifying work schedules for that business known as Dacotah Liquors which is owned by Yellow Robe Enterprises, LLC, from its inception to the date of the deposition.

(Docket 53-1, p. 3). On March 22, 2010, Yellow Robe Enterprises, Inc., [sic] and Geraldine Yellow Robe, (hereinafter jointly referred to as "Deponent") filed a motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum. (Docket 49). Defense counsel and counsel for the deponent then filed a stipulation (Docket 51) agreeing that the subpoena and notices of depositions previously set for March 25, 2010, would be continued pending the court's ruling on the motion to quash. Defendants filed their response to the motion to quash. (Docket 52). The matter is now ripe for resolution by the court.

DISCUSSION

"If the person is a non-party, production of documents can be compelled only by a subpoena duces tecum issued under Rule 45(d)(1)." Fisher v. Marubeni Cotton Corporation, 526 F.2d 1338, 1341 (8th Cir. 1975) (internal citations omitted). Rule 45(c)(3)(A) and (B) set the parameters for a court in either quashing or modifying a subpoena. Material to this case, those provisions state:

(A) . . . On timely motion, the issuing court must quash or modify a subpoena that:

(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or

(iv) subjects a person to undue burden. (B) . . . the issuing court may, on motion, quash or modify the subpoena if it requires:

(i) disclosing a trade secret or other confidential . . . commercial information

Id.

Deponent's grounds for asserting the motion to quash are as follows:

A. [T]he description of what is being sought is vague and overboard and oppressive and burdensome.

B. Corporate records, tax returns, real estate purchase documents, bank documents concerning indebtedness, and work schedules are absolutely irrelevant to any issue in the discrimination case.

C. [T]here are other ways of getting the essence of the information being requested.

D. [T]o the extent that defendants have requested "all tax returns" and "all bank documents," the request is for all encompassing and global confidential, private commercial information that will prejudice deponents in their quest to maintain and operate a private business.

(Docket 50, pp. 2-4). Each of these assertions will be addressed individually.

A. WHETHER THE REQUESTED DOCUMENTS ARE RELEVANT

"The scope of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is extremely broad." United States v. Three Bank Accounts, Nos. 05-4145 and 06-4005, 2008 WL 915199 at * 6 (D.S.D. April 2, 2008) (Order on Motion to Quash) (referencing 8 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure ยง 2007, 94-95 (2d ed. 1994)). Discovery of certain information will not be allowed if the requested documents are not "relevant to the subject matter ...


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