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Trice v. Rasier, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 18, 2018


         SECTION: “R” (4)



         Before the Court is a Motion to Quash Plaintiff Antanea Trice's Notice of 30(B)(6) Deposition and for Protective Order (R. Doc. 30) filed by Defendant, James River Insurance Company. The Motion is opposed by Plaintiff, Ms. Antanea Trice. Rec. Doc. 33. The Motion was given expedited consideration (Rec. Doc. 32) and oral argument was heard on September 12, 2018.

         I. Background

         On November 20, 2016, Antanea Trice was stopped in her car at an intersection in Kenner, Louisiana when a truck driven by Scott Martinez struck her from behind. Ms. Trice alleged that the collision has caused generalized pain in her body, cervical and lumbar spine pain, and mental anguish. She also contended that the collision has caused her damages, including disability, loss of earning capacity, and medical costs.[1] Rec. Doc. 1-1, p. 3. At the time of the collision, Ms. Trice was working as a Rideshare Driver for Rasier, LLC d/b/a Uber Technologies, Inc. During her employment with Uber, Ms. Trice contended she was provided with an uninsured/underinsured motorists' policy (“UM Policy”)[2] issued by Defendant, James River Company. Rec. Doc. 26, p. 1. Mr. Martinez was covered by a policy of liability insurance at the time of the collision, provided by USAA Casualty Insurance Company (“Underlying Policy”).

         Ms. Trice filed this action[3] against Rasier, LLC[4] and James River alleging that the $50, 000 maximum coverage paid to Ms. Trice by the Underlying Policy would not cover her damages, and that James River was obligated to cover her remaining damages pursuant to the UM Policy issued to her. Rec. Docs. 1; 1-2, p. 5.

         On August 24, 2018, Ms. Trice's counsel provided to James River a signed Notice of 30(b)(6) Deposition. The Notice set the corporate deposition of James River for September 19 and contained twenty-seven (27) Deposition Topics and nineteen (19) Document Requests. Rec. Doc. 30-2.[5] The Deposition Topics concern James River's good faith in investigating Ms. Trice's claim, Ms. Trice's comparative fault in the car accident, James River's affirmative defenses, and Ms. Trice's coverage under the UM Policy. Id.

         On September 4, 2018, James River filed the Motion before the Court, requesting the Court to quash the Notice of Deposition and issue a Protective Order. James River argues the Deposition Topics (1) are not relevant because James River has since stipulated that Ms. Trice was covered by the UM policy and that they have waived all Defenses assert in their Answer; (2) are not relevant because Ms. Trice has never pled bad faith on the part of James River's investigation of the accident; (3) and that the 30(b)(6) Deposition Topics are unreasonably cumulative and duplicative because all of information sought has either been provided by prior depositions of witnesses, or that written discovery is readily available as a less burdensome source. Rec. Doc. 30.

         II. Standard of Review

          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.” The Rules specify that “[r]elevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         “Rule 30(b)(6) allows parties to obtain testimony from a corporation, provided the party describes with reasonable particularity the matters for examination.” Mike Hooks Dredging Co., Inc. v. Eckstein Marine Service, Inc., No. 08-3945, 2011 WL 2559821, at *1 (E.D. La. June 28, 2011) (Berrigan, J.) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6)). Thereafter, the named organization “must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6); id.; see also, Brazos River Auth. v. GE Ionics, Inc., 469 F.3d 416, 433 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting 8A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2103, at 33 (2d ed.1994)) (“ ‘Obviously it is not literally possible to take the deposition of a corporation; instead ... the information sought must be obtained from natural persons who can speak for the corporation.' ”).

         Furthermore, 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 information sought; or (3) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. In assessing whether the burden of the discovery outweighs the benefit, a court must account for (1) the needs of the case, (2) the amount in controversy, (3) the parties' resources, (4) the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation, and (5) the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C).

         III. Analysis

         A. Deposition Topics Concerning James ...

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