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Cardinal Aluminum Co. v. Continental Casualty Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

July 22, 2015

CARDINAL ALUMINUM COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTINENTAL CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

lANNY kING, Magistrate Judge.

Defendant filed a notice to subpoena documents from a non-party. (Docket # 16). Plaintiff moved to quash the proposed subpoena on privilege and relevance grounds. (Docket # 17). The parties fully briefed the motion. The issue is now ripe for the Court's review.

The Court treats Plaintiff's motion as a motion for protective order and grants the motion in part and denies it in part. The Court finds that the proposed subpoena exceeds the scope of discovery, based on the subject matter of the case and the current procedural posture, and that Plaintiff did not meet its burden to demonstrate that the subpoena seeks privileged documents. Defendant may seek limited discovery from the non-party. Plaintiff may assert privilege over specific documents the non-party otherwise intends to produce to Defendant.

Background

Plaintiff filed its complaint in Jefferson Circuit Court alleging claims for breach of contract, violation of Kentucky's Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, and common-law bad faith as well as seeking declaratory relief. (Docket # 1-5). The claims asserted insurance coverage for a crack that formed in a large piece of industrial equipment. Id. Defendant[1] removed the case to federal court on diversity of jurisdiction grounds. (Docket # 1). Plaintiff amended its complaint and Defendant answered shortly after the removal. (Docket ## 6, 7).

District Judge Russell issued a Scheduling Order that bifurcated the bad-faith claims and set a fact-discovery deadline of July 1, 2015, which was later extended to July 15, 2015. (Docket ## 12, 21). On May 15, 2015, Defendant filed and served its Notice of Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum on Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Plaintiff's insurance broker for the policy concerned in this litigation. (Docket # 16). The proposed subpoena seeks: all documents related to the insurance policy involved in the litigation; all opinions, reports, and examinations related to equipment owned or operated by Plaintiff; and, all documents related to the instant case.

Plaintiff objected to the proposed subpoena duces tecum and filed its Cardinal Aluminum Company's Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum on May 27, 2015. (Docket # 17). Plaintiff objected on the grounds of attorney-client privilege, the work-product doctrine, and relevance. Id. After a telephonic status conference with the Magistrate Judge, the Court granted Plaintiff retroactive leave to file its motion. (Docket # 20). Defendant responded to the motion and Plaintiff filed its reply brief. (Docket ## 22, 27). The matter is now ripe.

Nature of the Motion

Plaintiff filed its motion as a motion to quash. (Docket # 17). The proposed subpoena commands a non-party located in Frankfort, Kentucky, to produce documents at the offices of Defendant's counsel in Lexington, Kentucky. (Docket # 16-1). Both Frankfort and Lexington are located in the Eastern District of Kentucky. A motion to quash is properly made to "the court for the district where compliance is required." Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3). That court is the Eastern District of Kentucky, not this Court. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(2) (describing the place of compliance). A court may transfer a motion to quash to the issuing court under certain circumstances not met for the instant motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(f).

Other courts have held that a party lacks standing to challenge a subpoena served on a non-party absent the implication of a personal right or privilege related to the documents sought by subpoena. See e.g., G.K. Las Vegas Ltd. P'ship v. Simon Prop. Grp., Inc., No. 2:04-CV-01199-DAE-GWF, 2007 WL 119148, at * 3 (D. Nev. Jan. 9, 2007). That a party lacks standing to assert a relevance objection when seeking to quash a subpoena to a non-party follows as a conclusion of this rule. See id.

For these reasons, the Court will treat Plaintiff's motion as a motion for protective order under Rule 26. See Washington v. Thurgood Marshall Acad., 230 F.R.D. 18, 22 (D.D.C. 2005) (treating a party's motion to quash as a motion for protective order and evaluating the motion under Rule 26 because the party could not have the relief she sought under Rule 45).

Privileges

I. Attorney-Client Privilege

Plaintiff asserted that attorney-client privilege protects the documents sought by Defendant's subpoena. (Docket # 17-1, p. 4). Privileged documents fall outside the scope of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The burden of establishing that a privilege exists to shield a document from discovery rests on the party asserting privilege-Plaintiff for the instant motion. In re Grand Jury ...


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