United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on a motion to quash the subpoena
issued to non-party the Wright Group, Inc., filed by
Plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company
(“Plaintiff”)  and a motion to quash that
same subpoena filed by non-party Wright Group, Inc.
(“Wright Group”) . Defendant Electrolux Home
Products, Inc. (“Defendant”) opposes both
motions. See , . Plaintiff also filed a reply in
support of its motion. [See 25.] For the reasons stated
below, both Plaintiff's motion  and Wright
Group's motion  are granted in part and denied in
part. Wright Group shall produce documents responsive to the
subpoena as set forth below.
products liability action relates to a fire at
Plaintiff's insured's property that Plaintiff alleges
was caused by a defective dryer manufactured and distributed
by Defendant. [See 1.] On November 29, 2016, Plaintiff
identified Michael Stoddard and Ronald Parsons of the Wright
Group as its testifying expert witnesses. [13.] Plaintiff
amended this disclosure on May 26, 2017, to remove Mr.
Parsons's name, leaving Mr. Stoddard as the only
identified expert from the Wright Group. [17.] Mr. Stoddard
issued an expert report in this case dated November 23, 2016.
[See 22, Exhibit B (Stoddard Report).] Mr. Stoddard was
deposed on May 31, 2017. [See 22, Exhibit C (Stoddard
4, 2017, Defendant issued a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 45 subpoena to Wright Group requesting
various categories of documents. The categories disputed in
this motion request production of billing records and
invoices for dryer storage and expert consulting on behalf of
Plaintiff that is unrelated to the instant case,
corporate ownership records,  and information regarding the
compensation of Wright Group employees. Plaintiff filed a
motion to quash the subpoena and for an entry of a protective
order on May 26, 2017 , and Defendant filed an objection
. Wright Group then moved for entry of a protective order
or to quash this same subpoena on July 25, 2017 , and
Defendant again filed an objection .
and Wright Group broadly argue that these requests are not
reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible
evidence, would be unduly burdensome to comply with for
Wright Group, and are seemingly meant to harass Wright Group
argues that an expert witness's potential biases are
relevant and discoverable. According to Defendant, although
Mr. Stoddard is Plaintiff's testifying expert here, the
Wright Group produced his expert report through the
collective efforts of all of its employees, including Mr.
Parsons, and is therefore the true “expert
witness.” To support this argument, Defendant points to
deposition testimony from Mr. Stoddard indicating that Wright
Group employees work together on fire analyses and developing
test protocols. [See 22 at 3-8.] Defendant also points to the
fact that Mr. Parsons and Mr. Stoddard have co-signed
substantially similar expert reports in several factually
similar cases against Defendant and argues that the report in
this case, like these substantially similar reports, is
really co-authored by both Mr. Parsons and Mr. Stoddard. [See
id. at 2.] Defendant argues that the requested
documents are relevant to the potential biases of Wright
Group as an entity and are therefore discoverable. Defendant
further argues that the requested categories of documents are
particularly necessary because Mr. Parsons's credibility
has been called into question in a motion for civil contempt
pending in the Western District of Louisiana. [See 22,
Exhibit M (Sonnier Motion).]
26(b)(1) provides that parties may obtain discovery
“regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to
any party's claim or defense and proportional to the
needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). A district court may, “for good
cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). The party moving for
entry of a protective order bears the burden of showing that
good cause exists. Global Material Techs., Inc. v.
Dazheng Metal Fibre Co., Ltd., 133 F.Supp.3d 1079, 1084
(N.D. Ill. 2015); Sloan Valve Co. v. Zurn Indus.,
2012 WL 5499412, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 13, 2012). The
district court has broad discretion as to whether a
protective order under Rule 26(c) is appropriate. Sloan
Valve Co., 2012 WL 5499412, at *1.
governs the issuance of subpoenas during litigation. Rule
45(a) allows a party to issue a subpoena commanding a person
to produce designated documents at a specified time and
place. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a)(1)(iii). “The scope of
material obtainable pursuant to a Rule 45 subpoena is as
broad as what is otherwise permitted under Rule
26(b)(1).” In re Kleimar N.V. v. Benxi Iron &
Steel Am., Ltd., 2017 WL 3386115, at *7 (N.D. Ill. Aug.
7, 2017) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Rule 45(d), the district court “[o]n timely
motion” must quash or modify a subpoena that
“subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(d)(3)(A)(iv). A burden is considered undue when “the
burden of compliance * * * would exceed the benefit of
production of the material sought by [the subpoena].”
Nw. Mem'l Hosp. v. Ashcroft, 362 F.3d 923, 927
(7th Cir. 2004). To assess whether such an undue burden
exists, the court considers numerous factors, including
“the likelihood that compliance will result in
production of the information, whether the discovery is
unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, [and] whether the
information sought is readily obtainable from another, more
convenient, less burdensome (but equally reliable)
source[.]” Mosely v. City of Chi., 252 F.R.D.
421, 427 (N.D. Ill. 2008). Non-parties generally are entitled
to greater protection under Rule 45 when making this
assessment. See Patterson v. Burge, 2005 WL 43240,
at *1 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 6, 2005). A party moving to quash has
the burden of demonstrating that an undue burden exists.
Pac. Century Int'l, Ltd. v. Does 1-37, 282
F.R.D. 189, 193 (N.D. Ill. 2012). Ultimately, the decision
whether to quash or modify a subpoena is within the
discretion of the district court. See Griffin v.
Foley, 542 F.3d 209, 223-24 (7th Cir. 2008); Nw.
Mem'l Hosp., 362 F.3d at 928.
threshold matter, the Court must address the procedural
objections that Defendant has raised ...