Coleman v. Ford Motor Company
ORDER denying 22 MOTION to Quash Subpoenas for Records of Valencia's Garage and Capital Auction and Deny Notice of Taking Deposition as to Sean Coleman. So Ordered by Chief Judge Joseph N. Laplante.(jb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Civil No. 11-cv-359-JL
Ford Motor Company
Plaintiff Richard Coleman, proceeding pro se, moves to
quash subpoenas that the defendant, Ford Motor Company, has
caused to issue to several third parties to this products
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(b)(3).
argues that, through the subpoenas, Ford is “abusing and
misusing discovery to harass, intimidate, and bully” him and
his “family, neighbors, and business associates.”
As the basis for this action, Coleman claims that he
sustained injuries when the jack he had used to elevate part of
the front end of his 1993 Mercury Tracer (a jack which he says
was “standard equipment” for that vehicle) “collapsed,” causing
The court notes that Coleman’s filing violates this court’s
“Order After Preliminary Pretrial Conference,” which sets forth
an informal method for resolving discovery disputes and provides
that, if a party nevertheless wishes to file a formal discovery
motion, it must expressly request referral to the Magistrate
Judge. Order of Sept. 20, 2011 (document no. 15). Coleman’s
motion fails to do so, but, in light of his pro se status, the
court has considered the motion nonetheless.
the car to fall onto his right arm.
He alleges that his son
Sean Coleman and a neighbor, Sonya Fugere, among others, came
to his aid in the wake of the accident and ultimately succeeded
in lifting the car off of him.
Coleman purchased the car from
Capitol Auto Auction in Manchester, New Hampshire, and, at some
point, had work done on it at Valencia’s Garage in Nottingham,
In light of these facts and allegations, Ford, not
unsurprisingly, has issued subpoenas for the depositions of
Sean Coleman and Sonya Fugere, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(a)(2)(B),
and for production of the records of Capitol Auto and
Valencia’s Garage relating to the subject vehicle, see Fed. R.
Civ. P. 45(a)(2)(C).
Significantly, none of these persons has
moved to quash or otherwise sought relief from the subpoenas on
any ground (according to Ford, in fact, Valencia’s has already
responded to the subpoena served on it by stating that it does
not possess any of the sought-after records, so Coleman’s
motion is moot insofar as it seeks to quash that subpoena).
Yet Coleman argues, in support of his motion to quash, that the
subpoenas will cause him undue burden and seek information that
is “redundant” in light of other discovery that Ford has
already received in the case, viz., reports by emergency
personnel who responded to the accident, Coleman’s medical
records, and the bill of sale for the vehicle.
As Ford points out, however, the subpoenas will cause
Coleman no burden, undue or otherwise.
While he is free to
attend the third-party depositions, he is under no obligation
to do so, nor to review any documents produced in response to
In any event, Coleman cannot seriously claim
that, by seeking information about the accident or his
resultant injuries from witnesses who arrived on the scene
immediately after the accident occurred, or about the subject
vehicle from the very business that sold it to him, Ford is
“abusing and misusing” the discovery process.
Under the Rules
of Civil Procedure, “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding
any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
That standard readily
encompasses the subjects about which Ford seeks to inquire
through the subpoenas.
This conclusion holds, moreover, despite the fact that
Ford may have obtained some information about the subject
vehicle, the accident, and Coleman’s injuries through other
Indeed, the third-party witnesses whom Ford has
subpoenaed arrived at the accident scene prior to emergency
personnel, and may well have observed matters that they did
The bill of sale is likewise no substitute for other
records that Capital Auto may possess about the condition or
prior ownership of the subject vehicle.
Finally, Coleman complains that the subpoena directed to
his now-adult son, Sean, will subject him to “undue burden or
expense” in violation of Rule 45(c)(1), because Sean “resides
more than 400 miles from the site of the deposition, [and] does
not have the means to travel [there], nor could he do so,
without jeopardizing the job that he began just two weeks ago.”
If this is true--and Ford says it isn’t, based on Coleman’s
deposition testimony that his home was also his son’s address-then it is Sean Coleman, not his father, who needs to move to
quash or modify the subpoena (or on the related basis that the
subpoena, which was apparently served upon Coleman at his home
address, was not properly served).
Again, Sean Coleman has not
done so and, unless and until he does, the court cannot grant
him any relief.2
Accordingly, Coleman’s motion to quash (document no. 22)
To provide guidance to the parties, the court notes its
preliminary view that, if Sean Coleman in fact now resides
several hundred miles from New Hampshire as his father claims,
then he cannot be compelled to travel to New Hampshire solely to
appear at a deposition. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A)(iii).
Joseph N. Laplante
United States District Judge
July 17, 2012
Richard Coleman, pro se
James M. Campbell, Esq.
Trevor J. Keenan, Esq.