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Winston &Strawn Llp v. Law Firm of John Arthur Eaves

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 24, 2014

WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, Plaintiff,
v.
THE LAW FIRM OF JOHN ARTHUR EAVES, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALAN KAY, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Protective Order ("Def.'s MPO") [21], and Plaintiff's opposition thereto ("Pl.'s Opposition to MPO") [22]; Defendant's Motion for Extension of Discovery Deadline ("Def's Motion for Extension") [25] and Plaintiff's Opposition thereto (Pl.'s Opposition to Motion for Extension") [26]; and Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order ("Pl.'s MPO") [27].[1] This Court held a telephonic status conference on November 20, 2014, to discuss outstanding discovery and the pending motions. During that conference, the Court indicated that it would permit a 30-day extension of discovery during which time John Arthur Eaves (a fact witness and Rule 30(b)(6) witness) and John A. Waits shall be deposed. The Court further indicated that both depositions will be held in Washington, D.C.[2]

I. Background

The underlying case involves a contract dispute between Plaintiff Winston & Strawn LLP ("W&S" or "Plaintiff") and Defendant The Law Firm of John Arthur Eaves (the "Eaves Law Firm" or "Defendant"), which hired W&S to perform some legal work. (Pl.'s Opposition to MPO at 1.) According to the Plaintiff, W & S rendered legal services and provided monthly invoices to the Eaves Law Firm but Defendant failed to pay those bills in full, leaving a balance of $279, 400.63 in unpaid legal fees. ( Id. ) W & S filed its Complaint in the instant case on December 5, 2013. On October 14, 2014, W & S mailed a Notice of 30(b)(6) Deposition of the Law Firm of John Arthur Eaves to The Law Firm of John Arthur Eaves ("Eaves"), in care of John Arthur Eaves, Jr., Esquire. (Notice of Deposition [21-2].) On October 24, 2014, Defendant filed a motion for protective order seeking to either quash the Notice of Deposition "in its entirety" or limiting the Plaintiff to a deposition of John Arthur Eaves "upon written questions that are narrowly crafted to address relevant, non-privileged areas (if any) encompassed by this notice." (Def.'s MPO at 1.) Plaintiff filed its Opposition to Def's MPO on October 31, 2014.

On November 19, 2014, two days prior to the close of discovery, Defendant filed a Notice to Take Deposition Upon Oral Examination of John A. Waits ("Waits") [24] and a Motion for Extension of Discovery Deadline [25]. Defendant requested that both sides be permitted up to 30 additional days in which to complete depositions; namely, the Eaves and Waits depositions. Plaintiff filed an Opposition [26] to the Motion for Extension of Discovery Deadline and a Motion for Protective Order [27] barring the deposition of Mr. Waits.

II. Legal Standard

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 authorizes discovery "regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1); Denture Cream Products Liability Litigation, 292 F.R.D. 120, 123 (D.D.C. 2013). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "A showing of relevance can be viewed as a showing of need; for the purpose of prosecuting or defending a specific pending civil action, one is presumed to have no need of a matter not relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action.'" Friedman v. Bache Halsey Stuart Shields, Inc., 738 F.2d 1336, 1341 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)).

Rule 26(b)(2) provides that the court must limit discovery, either on its own or pursuant to a motion, if it determines that:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in this action; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issue at stake in the litigation, and the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues.

Fed.R. Civ. P. 26(b) (2).

Pursuant to Rule 26(c), the individual "from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending." Upon showing of good cause, the court may "issue an order to protect a party from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following: (A) forbidding the disclosure or discovery; (B) specifying terms, including time and place, for the disclosure or discovery; (C) prescribing a discovery method other than the one selected by the party ...


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