United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Brent Brennenstuhl United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is the motion of non-party Michael T. May, Ph.D.
for a protective order, DN 23. Plaintiff Alliance Energy
& Engineering Corporation has filed a response in
opposition at ¶ 25 and May has replied at ¶ 26. The
Defendants/Counter Claimants have not filed a response.
of the Case
to Alliance's complaint, it is a corporation engaged in
oil and gas well exploration and development. Defendant
Ronnie Charles Rodgers held an assignment of an interest in
an oil lease identified as the “Michael Murphy
Lease.” Rogers, in turn assigned his interest to
Alliance, acting individually and on behalf of co-defendant
R&R Plus, LLC. The contract between the parties obligated
Rodgers to specified duties in operating and producing the
well. Alliance contends that the defendants failed to perform
under the contract and also that Rodgers made untrue
representations about the well production. Alliance's
complaint asserts causes of action for fraud, breach of
contract, unjust enrichment, and punitive damages (DN 1).
Motion for Protective Order
states that defendant Rodgers is currently under indictment
in the Eastern District of Kentucky, facing charges of fraud
related to solicitation of investments in oil and gas well
production ventures throughout Kentucky and
Tennessee. May contends the allegations in the
complaint are similar to the indictment. The Complaint
This is an action for damages arising out of the purchase of
an oil lease in Overton County, Tennessee by Alliance Energy
& Engineering Corporation from Ronnie Charles Rodgers,
doing business through a Tennessee limited liability company
named R&R Plus LLC., Ronnie Charles Rodgers committed
fraud by misrepresenting the performance of the oil well
associated with the lease and has breached the purchase
agreement in several material respects.
(DN 1, p. 1). The indictment, in turn, states:
The plan was to create an appearance of business legitimacy;
obtain money from investors under falsely-created
expectations of profit; obtain more money from investors than
was necessary to drill the wells; go through the motions of
drilling what the Operators expected to be dry holes or wells
within minimal production; lull and placate complaining
investors with false excuses for non-production; use large
sums of investor money for personal expenses and purchases;
and ultimately, discontinue any contract with the investors.
(DN 23, p. 3).
a Professor of Geology at Western Kentucky University. He
also performs geological studies for oil and gas investors
and operators, including Rodgers. May has also conducted
studies for Kentucky Oil and Gas, Inc., in which he, Rodgers,
and others have an ownership interest. Kentucky Oil and Gas
has also sued Rodgers on a similar fraud allegation in a
civil suit pending in this court.
regard to the pending criminal charges against Rodgers, May
states “the United States Government is well aware of
Dr. May's involvement in the facts underlying the
Criminal Case, though he is not presently the target of an
investigation. Dr. May is expected to be a material witness
at the trial in the Criminal Case” (DN 23, p. 4). He
seeks a stay of this action to protect him from giving a
discovery deposition, at which be indicates he may refuse to
answer questions and assert his rights under the Fifth
Amendment. In the alternative, he asks that Plaintiff be
permitted to question him only as to matters directly related
to the Michael Murphy Oil Lease.
Fifth Amendment states that “no person shall be . . .
compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
himself. U.S. Const. amend. V. “The fifth amendment
privilege not only protects the individual against being
involuntarily called as a witness against himself in a
criminal prosecution but also privileges him not to answer
questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or
criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might
incriminate him in future criminal proceedings.” In
re Morganroth, 718 F.2d 161, 164-65 (6th Cir. 1983).
advocating for a stay of this action, May cites Eastwood
v. United States, No. 2:06-cv-164, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
106777 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 14, 2008), which set forth the
following factors a ...