United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
WILLIAM RUSHING, Individually and on Behalf of all Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC., et al. Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE
matters are before the Court on motions to quash two
subpoenas served by the defendants (together,
“Williams-Sonoma”) in an action pending in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of
action (5:18-cv-411), Lynn A. Rushing is the individual
moving to quash the subpoena. In the second action
(5:18-cv-420), a company called The Pond Lady, LLC is the
movant. The Pond Lady, LLC is jointly owned by Lynn and her
husband, William Rushing.
is the lead plaintiff in the California case, which is a
putative class action against Williams-Sonoma. William
asserts that he purchased sheets and pillowcases that
Williams-Sonoma advertised were 600-thread count. William
alleges that the true thread count of the sheets and
pillowcases was less than half the advertised thread count.
He asserts claims under various California statutes
prohibiting false advertising and unfair competition.
of the movants in this Court - Lynn nor The Plant Lady, LLC -
is a party to the California action. Nevertheless,
Williams-Sonoma alleges that Lynn and the LLC have
information relevant to its defense in the California action.
Williams-Sonoma alleges that the credit card used to purchase
the bedding that forms the basis for William's suit was
purchased on a credit card issued, not to William himself,
but to The Pond Lady, LLC. Williams-Sonoma further alleges
that the card agreement prohibits the credit card's use
for personal, family, or household purposes. This,
Williams-Sonoma argues, allows it to assert a defense of
“unclean hands” against William's claims.
that end, Williams-Sonoma served two subpoenas in the
California case. It subpoenaed Lynn to testify at a
deposition and to produce documents relating to the credit
card agreement and any documents indicating who has authority
to use the card. And it subpoenaed a representative of The
Pond Lady, LLC to testify at a deposition and produce
documents about a variety of topics including the LLC, any
purchases of goods from Williams-Sonoma by the LLC's
members, and the use of the credit card at issue by any of
the LLC's members.
Lynn and The Pond Lady, LLC move to quash the subpoenas
served on them. As Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45
requires, the subpoenas were issued by the California federal
court, where the underlying action is pending. Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(a)(2). As the same rule requires, Lynn and the LLC have
moved this Court to quash the subpoena, because this is the
district where both reside and where the deposition would
have to occur. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c), (d)(3).
also provides, however, that this Court may transfer a motion
to quash to the court that issued the subpoena “if the
court finds exceptional circumstances.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(f). The advisory committee notes to this provision state
that transfer to the issuing court “may be warranted in
order to avoid disrupting the issuing court's management
of the underlying litigation, as when that court has already
ruled on issues presented by the motion or the same issues
are likely to arise in discovery in many districts.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(f) advisory committee's note to 2013
amendment. The party seeking to transfer the action has the
burden of proving the exceptional circumstances. Id.
Court finds that exceptional circumstances in this case
warrant the transfer of the motions at issue to the
California district court. The California court has presided
over this action since March 2016. Discovery has been ongoing
since May 2017 and the district judge and magistrate judge in
the California court have already resolved some discovery
disputes between the parties and will soon resolve issues
regarding whether the credit card agreement at issue here
should be produced. This is because Williams-Sonoma also
served a subpoena on Capital One Bank (USA) N.A., the bank
that issued the credit card, commanding the bank to produce
the agreement. William moved to quash that subpoena in the
District of Columbia. On June 19, 2018, that motion was
transferred under Rule 45(f) to the California district court
for decision. (5:18-cv-420, Rushing v. Williams-Sonoma,
et al., DE 10 at 2.)
the court presiding over the underlying litigation is better
suited to resolve the kinds of objections The Pond Lady, LLC
raises to the subpoena. The LLC raises three objections.
First, it asserts that William, who owns 80 percent of the
LLC, is the appropriate representative to appear in response
to the subpoena for The Pond Lady, LLC under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 30(b)(6). Williams-Sonoma deposed William in
his individual capacity on June 11, 2018. The LLC argues that
Williams-Sonoma should have conducted its 30(b)(6) deposition
of Rushing at the same time.
support of this argument, The Pond Lady, LLC points out that,
absent a court order to the contrary, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 30(d)(1) limits each deposition to seven hours. It
argues that if William is required to appear for a second
deposition - this time as the LLC's representative - his
total deposition time will exceed seven hours. The LLC
further argues that resolving this issue requires a
“fact intensive inquiry” of the underlying
litigation by the ruling court, which should consider the
discovery schedule and the relevance of the information
sought by the subpoena. (5:18-cv-420, DE 12 at 8.) The
California court is in the best position to undertake such a
fact-intensive inquiry of the underlying case to determine
whether William should be required to sit for a second
deposition as the LLC's representative.
also argues that the subpoena should be quashed because the
deadline for class discovery in the California action was
June 19, 2018. Williams-Sonoma argues the depositions do not
involve class certification but instead the merits of
William's claims. The California court should be
permitted to manage the deadlines in the discovery schedule
it established. Further, it has the knowledge and expertise
to best determine the purpose of the deposition and the
relevance of the requested information.
the Pond Lady, LLC argues that the subpoena is now
“irrelevant to the underlying litigation” due to
a recent substantive ruling by the California court.
(5:18-cv-420, Rushing v. Williams-Sonoma, et al., DE
12 at 4, 6-7.) This is best determined by the court that
issued the ruling.
deciding whether to transfer a motion to quash to the court
that issued the subpoena, “[t]he prime concern should
be avoiding burdens on local nonparties subject to subpoenas
. . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(f) advisory committee's
note to 2013 amendment. As to any burden on William as The
Pond Lady, LLC's 30(b)(6) representative, he chose to
file the underlying action in the California district court.