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Flynn v. FCA U.S. LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 30, 2016

BRIAN FLYNN et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FCA U.S. LLC and HARMAN INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIES, INC., Defendants,
v.
AUTO-ISAC, INC., Interested Party.

          ORDER

          DONALD G. WILKERSON United States Magistrate Judge

         Now pending before the Court is the Non-Party Auto-ISAC Inc.'s Motion to Quash Third Party Subpoena and the Memorandum of Law in support (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs responded with a Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. 10). Auto-ISAC, Inc. then filed a Reply in Support of its Motion (Doc. 13).[1] This matter is fully briefed and before the Court.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2015, Plaintiffs, all owners or lessees of Chrysler vehicles, brought suit against Chrysler and Harmon International Industries, seeking to sue on their own behalf and on behalf of a number of other vehicle owners similar to them. Their suit concerns an alleged design flaw in some of Chrysler's 2013-2015 vehicles that received public attention in a 2015 WIRED magazine article. The vehicles in question are equipped with a uConnect system, manufactured by Harmon International, that allows integrated control over the phone, navigation, and entertainment functions throughout the vehicle. Per the Plaintiffs, the uConnect system turns the affected vehicles into rolling deathtraps: the uConnect system has design vulnerabilities that allow hackers to take remote control of the vehicle's functions, including the vehicle's steering and brakes, to comical or disastrous effect. The WIRED article contributed to a voluntary recall by Chrysler, depending on how one sees things. Despite the recall, however, the Plaintiffs maintain that the affected vehicles still have a number of vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to access the vehicles' critical and non-critical systems. Those ongoing vulnerabilities led the Plaintiffs to file a class complaint (15-cv-855 MJR/DGW) in this Court, seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         Auto-ISAC is a non-profit organization that was incorporated on August 17, 2015 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Doc. 1-1, p. 3; Doc. 13, p. 19. The automotive industry created Auto-ISAC “to play an important role in promoting cybersecurity throughout the automotive industry.” Doc. 1-1, p. 5. In August, 2016, Plaintiffs served a subpoena seeking certain documents and communications on Auto-ISAC's registered agent in Delaware. Id. at 6. After a back-and-forth conversation between Plaintiffs' counsel and Auto-ISAC's counsel, the parties agreed that the subpoena would be served on Auto-ISAC's counsel in Washington, D.C. and that it would be limited to (1) “Documents reviewed, considered, published or otherwise related to Auto-ISAC's creation of the automotive cybersecurity ‘Best Practices' which was published in the summer of 2016” and (2) Communications with FCA from June, 2010 to the present.” Id. at 6-7; App. L, Doc. 3. Auto-ISAC subsequently moved this Court to quash the subpoena, arguing that it seeks irrelevant information, that Auto-ISAC's compliance with the subpoena would subject it to an undue burden, and that the subpoena calls for the improper disclosure of its confidential and proprietary information. See generally Doc. 1. Plaintiffs, in turn, request that this Court deny the motion to quash.[2]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, states in pertinent part:

(d) Protecting a Person Subject to a Subpoena; Enforcement.
(3) Quashing or Modifying a Subpoena.
(A) When Required. On timely motion, the court for the district where compliance is required must quash or modify a subpoena that:
(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver ...

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