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Hanan v. Crete Carrier Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

November 6, 2019

SUSAN HANAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CRETE CARRIER CORPORATION and DORN KNAPP, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT CRETE CARRIER CORPORATION'S OBJECTIONS TO 30(B)(6) TOPICS AND MOTION TO QUASH AND FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER [1]

          DAVID L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendant Crete Carrier Corporation has filed Objections to 30(b)(6) Topics and Motion to Quash and for Protective Order, see Dkt. No. 27 (the “MPO”), “seeking a ruling on its objections to [Plaintiff Susan Hanan's] notice to depose a corporate representative of Crete Carrier and an order quashing that notice as to certain topics and protecting Defendants from further efforts to pursue discovery on those topics, ” id. at 1.

         United States District Judge Jane Boyle has referred the MPO to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for a hearing, if necessary, and determination under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). See Dkt. No. 31. Hanan filed a response, see Dkt. No. 38, and Crete filed a reply, see Dkt. No. 40.

         The Court has carefully considered the parties' briefing and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the MPO to the extent and for the reasons explained below.

         The Court previously has laid out the standards that govern a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) motion for protective order and motion to quash as to topics served for a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) corporate representative deposition, and the Court incorporates and will apply - but will not repeat - those standards here. See Dennis v. United States, No. 3:16-cv-3148-G-BN, 2017 WL 4778708, at *3-*8 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 23, 2017); Pauls v. The Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., No. 3:16-cv-2116-M-BN, 2016 WL 6397564, at *2-*5 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 28, 2016).

         I. Topic No. 1: “Cause of the accident

         Crete objects to Topic No. 1 because “[t]he cause of the accident was largely analyzed after ligation was anticipated and, therefore, Crete objects and asserts the attorney/client privilege and the work-product doctrine in response to this topic. Crete does not object to discussing any non-privileged information on this topic.” Dkt. No. 28 at 3. This objection is premature and provides no basis for objecting to this topic or entering a protective order. Crete's counsel can object, as appropriate, as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(c)(2) permits during the deposition.

         II. Topic No. 2: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding pre-trip inspections performed on its vehicles”

         Crete objects to Topic No. 2 because this

proposed topic is overly broad and not sufficiently limited in that the particular policies and procedures to be discussed are not specified to show that the topics to be discussed are relevant or likely to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence. Pre-trip inspections involve various issues and aspects and the topic does not specify any particular aspect to be discussed that is relevant to this case. There is no claim or allegation of any pre-trip inspections being an issue in this case. Moreover, the topic is not limited to the time period for which the policy or procedure was in effect.

Dkt. No. 28 at 3. The Court is not persuaded that the information sought by this topic is not relevant to Hanan's claims, but the Court determines that the topic as phrased is not reasonably particular and seeking information that is not proportional to the needs of the case. The Court grants Crete's objections in part and modifies the topic as follows: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding pre-trip inspections performed on its vehicles, which were in effect and applicable to the vehicle operated by Defendant Knapp on the date of the incident.”

         III. Topic No. 3: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding mechanical inspections and maintenance of its vehicles”

         Crete objects to Topic No. 3 because this

topic is not relevant and not likely to lead to relevant evidence as there is no claim or allegation of any mechanical issue or maintenance issue with the Defendant's truck being an issue in this case. Inspection and maintenance of semi-trucks involves various issues, and Plaintiff has not specified any aspect of this activity that would be relevant to this case. The topic is also overly broad and not sufficiently limited as to time or subject matter, as it does not specify particular policies or procedures to be discussed.

Dkt. No. 28 at 3-4. The Court is not persuaded that the information sought by this topic is not relevant to Hanan's claims, but the Court determines that the topic as phrased is not reasonably particular and seeking information that is not proportional to the needs of the case. The Court grants Crete's objections in part and modifies the topic as follows: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding mechanical inspections and maintenance of its vehicles, which were in effect and applicable to the vehicle operated by Defendant Knapp on the date of the incident.”

          IV. Topic No. 4: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding operation of its vehicles”

         Crete objects to Topic No. 4 because

[o]peration of a semi truck involves various issues and this request is overly broad as it fails to specify any particular policies or procedures to be discussed or how any such policy or procedure on the operation of the truck or aspect of truck operations is relevant to this lawsuit. The topic is also overly broad and not sufficiently limited as to time the policies or procedures to be discussed were in effect.

Dkt. No. 28 at 4. The Court is not persuaded that the information sought by this topic is not relevant to Hanan's claims, but the Court determines that the topic as phrased is not reasonably particular and seeking information that is not proportional to the needs of the case. The Court grants Crete's objections in part and modifies the topic as follows: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding operation of its vehicles, which were in effect and applicable to the vehicle operated by Defendant Knapp on the date of the incident.”

         V. Topic No. 5: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding hiring and pre-employment screening of its drivers”

         Crete objects to Topic No. 5 because this

topic is objectionable as overly broad in that it is not relevant to any issue in this case and not likely to lead to relevant evidence. It is also objectionable in that the topic fails to specify the particular policies or procedures to be discussed and it is not limited in time. Hiring and screening involves various issues, and Plaintiff has not specified what specific aspect of the hiring and screening process that is relevant to this case is to be discussed.

Dkt. No. 28 at 4. The Court is not persuaded that the information sought by this topic is not relevant to Hanan's claims, but the Court determines that the topic as phrased is not reasonably particular and seeking information that is not proportional to the needs of the case. The Court grants Crete's objections in part and modifies the topic as follows: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding hiring and pre-employment screening of its drivers, which were in effect and applicable to Defendant Knapp at the time that he was hired.”

         VI. Topic No. 6: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding training of its drivers”

         Crete objects to Topic No. 6 because

[d]river training addresses various issues, not all of which are relevant to this case and Plaintiff's topic does not specify what aspect of training is to be discussed. Thus, this topic is objectionable as overly broad in that it fails to specify any particular policies or procedures that are relevant or the discussion of which is likely to lead to relevant evidence. The topic is also objectionable as overly broad because it is not limited in time or as to the time the policies or procedures were in effect.

Dkt. No. 28 at 4. The Court is not persuaded that the information sought by this topic is not relevant to Hanan's claims, but the Court determines that the topic as phrased is not reasonably particular and seeking information that is not proportional to the needs of the case. The Court grants Crete's objections in part and modifies the topic as follows: “Defendants' policies and procedures regarding training of its drivers as to the operation of Crete's vehicles, which were in effect and applicable to the training of Defendant Knapp before and up to the time on the date of the incident.”

         VII. Topic No. 7: “Defendants' requirements for employment of drivers

         Crete objects to Topic No. 7 because

Crete has various requirements for its driver employees, not all of which are relevant to this case, and Plaintiff's topic does not specify what relevant requirements are to be discussed. This topic is objectionable as overly broad as it fails to specify particular requirements to be discussed that are relevant or likely to lead to relevant evidence. Further, the topic is overly broad as it is not limited as to the time during which the policies or procedures to be discussed were in effect.

Dkt. No. 28 at 5. The Court is not persuaded that the information sought by this topic is not relevant to Hanan's claims, but the Court determines that the topic as phrased is not reasonably particular and seeking information that is not proportional to the needs of the case. The Court grants Crete's objections in part and modifies the topic as follows: “Defendants' requirements for employment of drivers, which were in effect and applicable to Defendant Knapp at the time that he was hired.”

         VIII. Topic No. 10: “Maintenance and/or repairs (whether routine or otherwise required) performed on Defendants' vehicle from 1 year prior to the accident, including but not limited to general maintenance as well as any such repairs or maintenance necessitated by this accident”

         Crete objects to Topic No. 10 because

[m]aintenance of a semi truck involves various issues and Plaintiff's topic does not specify what aspect of maintenance or repair is relevant to this case and is to be discussed at the deposition. There is no claim or allegation of any mechanical issue or maintenance issue with the Defendant's truck being an issue in this case. Thus, this topic is objectionable as being overly broad and seeking irrelevant information.

Dkt. No. 28 at 5. The Court overrules Crete's objection because the information that Hanan seeks is relevant to her claims and proportional to the needs of the case, and the topic is described with reasonable particularity.

         IX. Topic No. 11: “All information and details regarding any inspections or maintenance requests that occurred prior to ...


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