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In the Matter of the Heartland Institute

May 13, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE, ET. AL


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

Motion to Quash Subpoena

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on The Heartland Institute's (Heartland) and Joseph Bast's (Bast)(collectively referred to as "Third Parties") motion to quash subpoena and notice of deposition. For the reasons stated below, we grant Third Parties motion to quash.

BACKGROUND

An action is pending in the District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (Civil Action Number 10-188-JPG). Plaintiffs in that underlying action (Plaintiffs) are public water suppliers and defendants are Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC f/n/a Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. and Syngenta AG (collectively referred to as "Syngenta"). Plaintiffs have issued subpoenas to Third Parties in this district relating to that underlying action. Third Parties have filed a motion to quash the subpoenas.

At the outset, this court's ruling on Third Parties' motion to quash is based solely upon the evidence and arguments submitted to this court. In ruling on Third Parties' motion to quash, this court expresses no opinion as to the merits of the underlying litigation between Plaintiffs and Syngenta, or as to the management of that case, which is solely within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a), a "party has a general right to compel any person to appear at a deposition, through issuance of a subpoena if necessary." CSC Holdings, Inc. v. Redisi, 309 F.3d 988, 993 (7th Cir. 2002). A party can also subpoena a third party to produce materials pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 (Rule 45). Rule 45 provides, in relevant part, the following:

Quashing or Modifying a Subpoena.

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

(I) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply; (ii) requires a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to travel more than 100 miles from where that person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person--except that, subject to Rule 45(c)(3)(B)(iii), the person may be commanded to attend a trial by traveling from any such place within the state where the trial is held; (iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or (iv) subjects a person to undue burden.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 45. Thus, a court must "quash or modify a subpoena if it [requests privileged information,] fails to allow a reasonable time for compliance or subjects the deponent to an undue burden." CSC Holdings, 309 F.3d at 993 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 45).In deciding whether to grant a motion to quash, a court "must evaluate such factors as timeliness, good cause, utility, and materiality." Id. (citation omitted).

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs have issued subpoenas to Third Parties requesting five categories of information: (1) documents or information exchanged between Heartland and Syngenta regarding atrazine, (2) documents or information regarding atrazine, (3) documents or information regarding Syngenta, (4) documents or information regarding anything of value received by Heartland from Syngenta, and (5) documents or information regarding the Triazine Network, the Kansas Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association, or Crop Life America. In addition, Plaintiffs have subpoenaed Bast to appear for a deposition to testify and bring with him the same documents or information requested in the subpoena for documents directed to Heartland. Plaintiffs have indicated that they have "made numerous attempts to obtain the information that Plaintiffs are now seeking from [T]hird [P]arties via subpoenas." (Opp. Ex. A Par. 8). More specifically, Plaintiffs state that ...


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