United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MELISSA RIVERA, ET AL.
JENNIFER ROBINSON, ET AL.
WELLS ROBY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' Joint Motion to Quash
Plaintiffs' Subpoena for Second
Inspection of Jennifer Robinson's Vehicle (R.
Doc. 79) filed by the Defendants Jennifer Robinson,
Church of the King, Inc., State Farm Mutual Insurance
Company, and Church Mutual Insurance Company, seeking an
order from this Court quashing Plaintiffs' subpoena
demand for a second inspection of Jennifer Robinson's
vehicle. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 80. The Court held
oral argument on this motion on September 11, 2019. R. Doc.
Melissa Rivera and Ricardo Silva, Sr. filed this action in
diversity in the District Court on December 20, 2018, as
biological parents to deceased son, Ricardo Silva, Jr., for
wrongful death and survival damages. R. Doc. 2, p. 1. At
approximately 5:54 p.m. on the evening of August 25, 2018,
Ricardo Silva, Jr., stopped at a traffic light while on his
sports-bike motorcycle, was struck by Defendant Jennifer
Robinson, an employee running an errand for the Church of the
King, Inc. R. Doc. 2, p. 1-2. This collision resulted in the
death of Ricardo Silva, Jr. R. Doc. 2, p. 2. Plaintiffs
allege, inter alia, the accident occurred as
Defendant Robinson was careless, reckless, distracted, had
her vision obstructed, and failed to look for and yield to
oncoming traffic. R. Doc. 2, p. 1-2 and p. 4.
this instant motion, Plaintiffs aver that as of July 2019, a
manufacturer of software and hardware developed a new
software, known as Berla, to enable the download of data from
vehicles to include Defendant Robinson's 2017 Honda Acura
MDX in-car entertainment system. R. Doc. 80, p. 3. Defendants
object pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
45(d)(3)(A)(i) and (iv) as: (1) all parties, including
Plaintiffs' expert, have already performed a thorough
inspection of Robinson's vehicle, (2) Plaintiffs have not
demonstrated a valid need for a second inspection, (3) a
second inspection would be unduly burdensome and costly on
Defendants, and (4) Plaintiffs' subpoena does not allow
sufficient time for Defendants to prepare for and have their
own experts attend the inspection. See R. Doc. 79-1.
opposition, Plaintiffs contend that at the time of the first
inspection, on January 30, 2019, the data download of
Defendant's Robinson's 2017 Acura MDX in-car
entertainment system was limited because the Berla software
had yet been released. R. Doc. 80, p. 11. In July 2019, a
company developed and manufactured the Berla software, which
rendered download of certain additional data possible.
Id. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that a second
inspection of Defendant Robinson's vehicle will enable
them to download: (1) the speed of Jennifer Robinson's
2017 Honda Acura MDX recorded prior to and at the time of the
8/25/2018 vehicle-motorcycle collision; (2) the GPS data for
the vehicle's location and movements prior to the crash;
(3) the vehicle's events such as turn signal use or
non-use and transmission selection, which is disputed by
Defendant; and (4) the use of Bluetooth connected devices
including text messages, cellular calls sent and received,
text messages and Apple iMessages. R. Doc. 80, p. 3-4.
Court, prior to the hearing, issued an order requiring
Plaintiffs to provide the following information in a
supplemental memorandum: (1) the exact information retrieved
from the first physical inspection of Defendant Jennifer
Robinson's vehicle, (2) the exact information retrievable
by use of the newly developed software and hardware
“Berla”, and (3) a list providing the differences
from the data extracted from the first physical inspection of
Robinson's vehicle from that which Plaintiff is now able
to retrieve in this proposed second vehicle inspection. R.
Doc. 81. Plaintiffs complied with this order and filed a
supplemental memorandum, which included the above-outlined
information. R. Doc. 82.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 45(d)(3) governs
the quashing or modifying of subpoenas. 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A)(i)-(iv).
addition, “[b]oth Rules 45 and 26 authorize the court
to modify a subpoena duces tecum when its scope
exceeds the boundaries of permissible discovery or otherwise
violates the parameters of Rule 45.” Hahn v.
Hunt, No. 15-2867, 2016 WL 1587405, at *2 (E.D. La. Apr.
20, 2016) (Wilkinson, C.M.J.). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 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.
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).
raise four arguments in support of their motion to quash: (1)
that a second vehicle inspection in unreasonably cumulative
and duplicative, (2) that any additional information gleaned
from a second vehicle inspection is not relevant, (3) that a
second vehicle inspection is unduly burdensome, and (4) that
Plaintiffs' deposition notice is not timely. R. Doc. 79.
Because the Court finds merits in the first two
arguments-namely, that a second vehicle inspection is
unreasonably cumulative and duplicative, as ...