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Thomas v. Chambers

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 9, 2019


         SECTION: “R” (4)



         Before the Court is a Motion to Quash and for Protective Order (R. Doc. 38), filed by specially-appearing parties Medport LA and Sean Alfortish, seeking to quash a corporate deposition subpoena issued by the Defendant's under Rule 30(b)(6), for a protective order under Rule 26(c), and for sanctions against the Defendants. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 44. The motion was heard with oral arguments on February 27, 2019. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Background

         Due to extensive motion practice in this case, the background facts have been set forth in previous orders. Therefore, the Court will forego providing a summary of the background facts, and instead will provide the facts pertinent to the motion at hand.

         On April 6, 2018, the Plaintiffs, Kierra Thomas, Shirley Harris, and Antoine Clark, filed a personal injury lawsuit for a motor-vehicle collision against Defendants Randall Chambers, God's Way Trucking, LLC, and Canal Insurance Company (collectively “the Defendants”) in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana. R. Doc. 1. On April 27, 2018, the Defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Id.

         The Defendants now assert that the accident did not occur or was staged, and that more than 30 other automobile collisions involving the Plaintiffs' relatives/associates exist with similar factual scenarios. R. Doc. 44. p, 2. The Defendants further claim that connections between the cases exist, including common medical financing companies such as Medport, LA (“Medport”). Id. at p. 4. Medport is organized under Nevada law and its headquarters is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. R. Doc. 38-1, p. 3. Further, Medport purchased certain accounts receivable from medical providers that treated Harris and Clark after the collision. Id. Medport also purchased payment accounts from Total Medical Concepts, LLC (“TMC”) for Thomas and Harris. Id.

         On November 29, 2018, the Defendants served a corporate deposition subpoena under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) on Sean Alfortish (“Alfortish”), an independent contractor/sales representative of Medport. Id. at p. 4, 5. The subpoena was served on Alfortish “individually and in capacity as a representative of Medport LA” and commanded Mr. Alfortish to appear for a deposition in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 19, 2019. R. Doc. 38-1, p. 4.; see R. Doc. 38-2, p, 1.

         On February 12, 2019, Medport and Alfortish filed a motion to quash the deposition subpoena, claiming that the subpoena did not comply with Rule 30(b)(6) for the following reasons: (1) the Defendants do not describe with particularity the matters for examination; (2) the Defendants do not have the right to unilaterally select Alfortish as Medport's corporate representative; and (3) Alfortish was not the correct person to receive service for Medport.[1] R. Doc. 38, p. 1-2. Additionally, Medport contends that the subpoena is procedurally deficient because a witness and mileage fee was not tendered to Mr. Alfortish upon service in accordance with Rule 45(b). Id.

         Medport and Mr. Alfortish also contended that the corporate deposition must be in or around Las Vegas, Nevada, and the information sought in the subpoena is not proportional to the needs of the case and is unduly burdensome. Id.

         Medport and Alfortish further requested a protective order to prohibit Alfortish from testifying “individually and in capacity as a representative of Medport LA, ” and to prevent the Defendants from issuing further subpoenas. Id. Moreover, also requests sanctions against the Defendants and their counsel, including attorney's fees, lost earnings, and costs for failing to avoid undue burden or expense under Rules 26 and 45. Id. at p. 2.

         The Defendants filed an opposition on February 19, 2019, claiming that the motion is moot because they voluntarily withdrew their request for a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition prior to the filing of the motion at issue (on the day that the motion was filed), and that the only remaining issue is whether the deposition of Mr. Alfortish in his individual capacity should proceed. R. Doc. 44, p. I, n. 2.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) provides: “In its notice or subpoena, a party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination.” The rule further states: “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. A subpoena must advise a nonparty organization of its ...

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