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Fradella v. Coca-Cola Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 18, 2018

PAM FRADELLA, Plaintiff
v.
COCA-COLA COMPANY, ET AL., Defendants

         SECTION: “E”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SUSIE MORGAN U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion to quash filed by Defendants, The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc.[1] The motion is opposed.[2] Defendants have filed a reply.[3] For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to quash is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, alleging she “became ill” after consuming a Gold Peak Tea containing “mold or some other deleterious substance.”[4] On September 26, 2017, Defendants removed the case to this Court.[5]

         Plaintiff brings this prospective class action on behalf of “[a]ll Louisiana residents who, any time from September 1, 2016 to present, purchased a bottle of Gold Peak Tea of any flavor and any size, that contained visible mold or some other visible deleterious substance, and suffered economic loss.”[6] According to Plaintiff, “there are thousands of Louisiana residents who have purchased Gold Peak Tea and been adversely effected by this unwholesome product.”[7]

         On June 28, 2018, Court set a class certification hearing to take place on Thursday, July 19, 2018.[8] In connection with the hearing, the Court ordered the parties to exchange and file witness and exhibit lists.[9] On July 3, 2018, Plaintiff served counsel for Defendants with a subpoena to appear and testify directed to the “Corporate Representative of [Defendants].”[10] The subpoena purported to compel a corporate representative for Defendants to appear at the July 19, 2018 class certification hearing and to bring “[a]ny and all information” related to issues Plaintiff identified in a document she attached to the subpoena as Exhibit “A.”[11] Exhibit A is a list of seventeen requests for documents and other information related to complaints of mold in Gold Peak Tea.[12] On July 9, 2018, Defendants filed the instant motion to quash.[13]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The quashing or modification of a subpoena is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45.[14] The Court 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 applies; or (iv) subjects a person to undue burden.”[15]

         Although Rule 45 allows subpoena service anywhere in the United States, a subpoena notice can only direct compliance as defined by FRCP 45(c), which states:

(c) Place of Compliance.
(1) For a Trial, Hearing, or Deposition. A subpoena may command a person to attend a trial, hearing, or deposition only as follows:
(A) within 100 miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person; or
(B) within the state where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person, if the person
(i) is a party or a party's officer; or
(ii) is commanded to attend a trial and would not incur ...

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