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In re Tara Crosby LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 18, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF TARA CROSBY, LLC

         SECTION: “I” (4)

          ORDER

          KAREN WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Petitioners Crosby Tugs, LLC and Tara Crosby, LLC's Motion to Quash and/or Postpone Depositions of Kurt Crosby and Ivy Danos (R. Doc. 71). No opposition was timely filed, however, the Court heard oral argument on May 30, 2018.

         I. Background

         This litigation arises out of the sinking of the M/V CROSBY COMMANDER while towing the MARMAC 25, a barge, in the Gulf of Mexico. It began with the filing of a limitation of liability action by Tara Crosby, LLC and Crosby Tugs, LLC pursuant to admiralty and maritime jurisdiction and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(h). R. Doc. 1. Joseph Hebert and Robert Pitre filed claims in the action against Tara Crosby, LLC, Crosby, Tugs, LLC and Tetra Technologies, Inc. pursuant to the Jones Act and general maritime law. R. Doc. 11. The Court then granted leave for Linda Bryant to file claims as Administrator of the Succession of David Coltrin. R. Doc. 56. Joseph Hebert, Robert Pitre, and David Coltrin were all crewmembers aboard the CROSBY COMMANDER at the time of its sinking. Hebert and Pitre both allege that they sustained severe personal injuries as the result of the sinking. Coltrin drowned as a result of the sinking and claims are being asserted by Linda Bryant as administrator of his succession.

         The instant motion before the Court is a motion to quash the depositions of Kurt Crosby and Ivy Danos filed by the Petitioners. R. Doc. 71. Kurt Crosby is the CEO of Crosby Tugs, LLC and Tara Crosby, LLC and Ivy Danos is the Crosby Offshore Operations Manager. Petitioners argue that the Court should not allow the deposition of the Crosby CEO because: (1) Kurt Crosby has no unique or superior knowledge in the case; (2) there are less intrusive and burdensome ways of obtaining any information he has or it can be obtained from lower level employees; and (3) the purpose of the deposition is harassment because Claimants have also sought the deposition of Tetra's Senior Vice-President, which indicates these depositions are solely meant to annoy opposing parties.

         With respect to Ivy Danos, the Petitioners do not oppose the deposition, instead they sought to either quash or postpone it as it was set for May 11, 2018, a time when Petitioner's counsel was unavailable. They seek an order from the Court setting the deposition at a time convenient to the parties and witness.

         No opposition was originally filed by the Claimants. Due to the nature of the deposition at issue the Court set oral argument on the motion. The day before oral argument the Claimants filed an opposition improperly into the record without receiving leave to file an untimely opposition. During argument the Court accepted the untimely opposition on this occasion, but stated that any additional untimely filings would not be allowed to be filed into the record. The Court, therefore, puts the Claimants and Claimants' counsel on notice that any further untimely filings shall be disregarded and motions shall be granted as unopposed if no timely opposition is filed.

         Claimants in their opposition argue that: (1) Petitioners injected Kurt Crosby into this matter since they seem to intend to elicit that he was concerned with Claimants' well-being; (2) Kurt Crosby has relevant, unique knowledge with respect to heavy weather procedures because he sits on the storm committee and personally approves the policies established in the Crosby Towing Safety & Environmental Management System (TSEMS) Manual; (3) Kurt Crosby is a signatory to contracts that other individuals have less valuable knowledge of these documents because they were not signatories to them.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 26(b)(1) provides that “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.” Rule 26(b)(1) specifies that “[i]nformation within the scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discovered.” Rule 26(b)(1) also specifies that discovery must be “proportional to the needs of the case, considering the important of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Id.

         Under Rule 26(b)(2)(C), discovery may be limited if: (1) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from another, more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive source; (2) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the discovery sought; or (3) the proposed discovery is outside of the scope permitted under Rule 26(b)(1).

         Rule 26(c) governs the issuances of Protective Orders in discovery. A 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 rule offers a variety of potential options that the Court may use to protect the moving party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(A)-(H). “The party seeking the protective order bears the burden to show ‘the necessity of its issuance, which contemplates a particular and specific demonstration of fact [.]' ” Cazaubon v. MR Precious Metals, LLC, 14-2241, 2015 WL 4937888, at *2 (E.D. La. Aug. 17, 2015) (quoting In re Terra Int'l, 134 F.3d 302, 306 (5th Cir. 1998)). The trial court enjoys wide discretion in setting the parameters of a protective order. See Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 36 (1984) (“To be sure, Rule 26(c) confers broad discretion on the trial court to decide when a protective order is appropriate and what degree of protection is required.”). Finally, Rule 26(c)(1) requires a certification that the moving party has conferred or attempted to confer in good faith with the other affected party to attempt to resolve the issue without the court's interference.

         III. ...


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