United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
JOE D. MAGEE, ET AL.
PHIL MCMILLIAN, ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiffs' Magistrate Appeal from a
Memorandum Order issued by Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby on
January 4, 2017. See Record Documents 57 &
60.The appeal challenges Magistrate Judge
Hornsby's decision denying Plaintiffs' Motions to
Compel Discovery and granting Defendant BHP Billiton
Petroleum Properties (NA), LP's (“BHP”)
Motion for Protective Order. See Record Document 60.
by a magistrate judge as to discovery issues are
non-dispositive matters. Such actions are not listed in 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) as one of the dispositive motions
(often referred to as the “excepted motions”)
that a magistrate judge may not conclusively decide.
Magistrate Judge Hornsby's order is not a recommendation
to the district court, which normally requires de
novo review under Rule 72. Rather, it is an order from
the magistrate judge on non-dispositive discovery matters
that requires the district court to uphold the ruling unless
it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also Castillo v.
Frank, 70 F.3d 382, 385 (5th Cir. 1995).
case involves a lease dispute regarding the payment of
royalties. Magistrate Judge Hornsby's Memorandum Order of
January 4, 2017 related to Plaintiffs' six sets of
written discovery, which eventually resulted in three
discovery motions being filed: Plaintiffs' Motion to
Compel; BHP's Motion for Protective Order; and
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Motion to Compel Discovery. The
discovery related to royalty payments made to the Talleys,
the legal suspense account, BHP's legal team, and royalty
distribution statements. Ultimately, Magistrate Judge Hornsby
denied Plaintiffs' motions and granted BHP's request
for a protective order. More specifically, he ruled:
Discovery Regarding the Talleys
Plaintiffs argue that the documentation relied upon by
Defendant in paying royalties to the Talleys is relevant to
whether Defendant acted in good faith with regard to
Plaintiffs. . . .
The information sought by Plaintiffs is irrelevant. The
Talleys are not [a] party to this lawsuit, and
Defendant's dealings with the Talleys are not at issue.
Furthermore, requesting “all communications”
between the Talleys and Defendant regarding royalty payments
far exceeds the scope of allowable discovery in this matter.
Discovery Regarding the Legal Suspense
Plaintiffs also seek discovery regarding Defendant's
placement of the disputed royalty payments into a special
suspense account. Apparently, Plaintiffs contend that if
Defendant had access to the disputed funds, Defendant owes
interest from an earlier date.
Defendant represents to the court that the legal suspense
account is simply a balance sheet account. Defendant further
represents that it did not have use of the disputed funds. .
Whether Plaintiffs are ultimately entitled to interest and,
if so, when interest started to accrue, is ultimately a
question to be decided based on the lease agreement. For the
purpose of discovery, Defendant has adequately explained the
basic use and operation of the legal suspense account.
Plaintiffs' repeated and duplicative requests for
“all documents” concerning the suspense account
are overly broad.
Discovery Related to Defendant's Legal
Plaintiffs seek discovery regarding the members of
Defendant's legal team who performed services regarding
ownership status or in determining who should be paid
royalties. In response, Defendant identified the members of
the legal team but objected to providing any additional
information based on the attorney-client privilege. Defendant
is correct. Communications among the members of the legal
team and Defendant's representatives are clearly
privileged. Moreover, asking ...