United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
Stephen Wm. Smith United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on competing motions to compel
discovery (Dkt. 40 (plaintiff) and Dkt. 41 (defendant)). The
motions are granted in part and denied in part.
Doggett Company, LLC has sued defendant Thermo King for
violation of § 57.102 of the Fair Practices of Equipment
Manufacturers, Distributors, Wholesalers, and Dealers Act
(the Dealership Act). Thermo King manufactures transport
temperature control products and sells them through a network
of dealerships. Doggett contacted Thermo King by letter about
purchasing two Thermo King dealerships in Texas known as the
Kirby Dealerships. Thermo King informed Kirby and Doggett
that it would not approve a proposed sale of the Kirby
Dealerships to Doggett because Doggett is affiliated with a
trucking business. Thermo King calls this its "OEM"
policy. Doggett contends Thermo King violated the Dealership
Act because the trucking business/OEM policy is not a
reasonable requirement consistently imposed by Thermo King.
Thermo King's primary position is that the protections of
the Dealership Act were not triggered by Doggett's
letter. Doggett seeks both injunctive relief and lost profits
Doggett's Motion to Compel (Dkt. 40).
seeks supplemental responses to its request for production
No. 3 and interrogatories No. 3 and 12. See Dkt. 40
at 3-7. This discovery is aimed at determining whether Thermo
King's stated reason for not approving Doggett's
purchase reflects "reasonable requirements consistently
imposed for dealership transfers."
requests will be limited to the time period 2011 to present.
They are further limited to information related to Thermo
King's OEM policy prohibiting dealers from being
affiliated with a trucking company, not all requirements for
dealership approval. Thermo King has already agreed to
produce documents related to two companies approved for
dealerships since 2011 that appear inconsistent with that OEM
policy, one in Hawaii and one in Maine.
the above modifications, Doggett's motion to compel is
granted as follows. Thermo King is ordered to conduct a
reasonable search of its dealership development department
for documents dated 2011 to present that refer to its
trucking business/OEM policy, including communications to
potential dealers regarding the policy, and emails to or from
the head of the department, Timothy Minor, and his
predecessor on that topic. Thermo King is further ordered to
supplement its response to interrogatory 12 to identify any
buyer who made an informal request or inquiry about becoming
a Thermo King dealer but was rejected based on the trucking
Thermo King's motion to compel (Dkt. 41)
King seeks production of a wide range of financial documents
from Doggett and related entities on the grounds that they
are relevant to Doggett's alternative claim for lost
profits. Thermo King also seeks documents related to whether
other manufacturers or suppliers have requirements similar to
its trucking business/OEM policy.
King has persuaded the court that it is entitled to financial
information beyond that reviewed or relied upon by
Doggett's expert. For example, documents related to the
source of funds Doggett had available for the purchase might
be relevant to rebut the methodology and assumptions made by
the expert. However, the requests at issue will be limited to
documents related to the plaintiff here and its 3 affiliated
operating companies, not the owner Leslie Doggett personally
(except to the extent Mr. Doggett personally was the intended
source of funds, in which case Thermo King may revisit this
restriction with a reasonable request for limited additional
information from him). Further, the requests will be limited
in time to 2011 to the present.
discovery into other suppliers' policy restrictions on
dealership transfers might be appropriate here on the
following condition. If Doggett intends to argue that Thermo
King's OEM policy is unreasonable because it is not
imposed by other equipment suppliers, then Doggett's
dealership agreements with its suppliers are relevant and
subject to production. Doggett may avoid this production only if
it stipulates that it does not intend to present evidence
regarding the transfer restrictions of other equipment
motions to compel (Dkts. 40, 41) are granted in part and
denied in part as stated above. The parties are to produce
the compelled ...