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Waters v. Lowe's Home Centers, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 18, 2019


         SECTION: “J” (4)



         Before the Court is a Motion to Quash Plaintiff's Notice of 30(b)(6) Deposition (R. Doc. 24) filed by the Defendant, Lowe's Home Centers, LLC, seeking an order from the Court quashing the Federal Rule of civil Procedure 30(b)(6) deposition of Lowe's Home Center, LLC's corporate representative located in North Carolina. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 27. The Court held oral argument on this motion on August 28, 2019 (R. Doc. 35).

         I. Background

         On December 27, 2017, Plaintiff Broderick Waters filed this instant action in the Civil District Court for the Parish of New Orleans alleging injuries from July 10, 2017 incident at the Lowe's Home Center, LLC (“Lowe's”) located at 2501 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana. R. Doc. 1-3. Plaintiff alleges, in the course and scope of his employment with PTD Transport LLC, that while loading and lifting several flower and plant carts over the curb and into the Lowe's designated storage area, the cart tilted and fell atop him causing Plaintiff to fall and be pinned between the cart and the concrete, which resulted in Waters fracturing his leg and hurting his back. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that this concrete curb defect constitutes a dangerous condition and a failure by Lowe's to provide a reasonably safe work environment. Id. On December 5, 2018, this case was removed to the United States District Court invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction. R. Doc. 1. During his deposition, Waters acknowledged that he had previously lifted fourteen (14) to fifteen (15) flower carts before the incident. R. Doc. 24-2, p. 3.

         As the instant motion, Defendant Lowe's seeks to quash Plaintiffs' noticed deposition of the Lowe's corporate representative in North Carolina as unnecessary, irrelevant, and duplicative where Plaintiff, on June 12, 2019, already deposed the local Lowe's Loss Prevention and Safety Manager, Nick Martinson. R. Doc. 24-1, p. 2. Specifically, Defendants aver that the overwhelming majority of topics submitted in Plaintiff's Notice of Corporate Deposition were addressed in the deposition of Nick Martinson, and Plaintiff's, since then, have had ample opportunity to address further inquiries. R. Doc. 24-1, p. 4-5. Defendant furthers, the remaining topics, unaddressed in Martinson's deposition are irrelevant, unnecessary, and could have easily been addressed in Martinson's deposition. R. Doc. 24-1, p. 5. Finally, Defendants avers Plaintiff has not requested written discovery or through deposing other local Lowe's employees previously identified on topics he believes critical to his case not yet gathered. R. Doc. 24-1, p. 4.

         Plaintiff rebukes Defendant's position arguing three main points: the mere fact that Plaintiff has deposed a local Lowe's representative on certain topics does not preclude Plaintiff from deposing a Lowe's corporate representative on the topic, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) standards are relevant and not preempted notwithstanding Louisiana law importing equal of or potentially more stringent safety requirements, and as Federal Rule of Evidence Rule 407 on subsequent remedial measures is a rule of admissibility and not a rule of discovery, inquiry into such topics in deposition is not precluded per se. R. Doc. 27.

         Plaintiff furthers, as to Defendant's arguments of the depositions unreasonably cumulative and duplicative nature, a “party should not be prevented from questioning a live corporate witness in a deposition setting just because topics proposed are similar to those contained in documents provided or interrogatory questions answered, ” and Plaintiffs seek to ask the Lowe's corporate representative his specific knowledge and interpretation of such policies. R. Doc. 27, p. 9.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“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) (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.'”). As the Fifth Circuit has explained:

the deponent must make a conscientious good-faith endeavor to designate the persons having knowledge of the matters sought by [the party noticing the deposition] and to prepare those persons in order that they can answer fully, completely, evasively, the questions posed ... as to the relevant subject matters. [T]he duty to present and prepare a Rule 30(b)(6) designee goes beyond matters personally known to that designee or to matters in which that designee was personally involved. The deponent must prepare the designee to the extent matters are reasonably available, whether from documents, past employees, or other sources.

Brazos River Auth., 469 F.3d at 433 (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         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 ...

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