Sony Electronics Inc. et al v. Hannstar Display Corp.

Filing 53


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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California IN RE: TFT-LCD (FLAT PANEL) ANTITRUST LITIGATION / No. M 07-1827 SI MDL. No. 1827 This Order Relates to: 10 Case Nos.: C 10-5616 SI, C 12-2214 SI, C 121599 SI 11 12 13 Sony Electronics Inc. v. LG Display, et al., C 105616 SI 14 Sony Electronics Inc. v. HannStar Display, et al., C 12-2214 SI ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ OBJECTION TO SPECIAL MASTER’S ORDER RE: MOTION OF DEFENDANTS TO COMPEL SONY ENTITIES TO PRODUCE DOCUMENTS 15 16 Sony Electronics Inc. v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., C 12-1599 SI / 17 18 Defendants have filed an objection to the Special Master’s Order Re: Motion of Defendants to 19 Compel Sony Entities to Produce Documents. The matter is scheduled for a hearing on December 7, 20 2012. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court determines that this matter is appropriate for 21 resolution without oral argument, and VACATES the hearing on this matter. For the reasons set forth 22 below, the Court hereby DENIES defendants’ objection. Docket No. 7093. 23 In the order at issue, the Special Master denied defendants’ motion to compel plaintiffs to 24 produce documents in the possession of the plaintiffs’ Japanese parent and non-party, Sony Corporation. 25 Citing In re Citric Acid Litigation, 191 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir.1999), the Special Master held that under 26 Ninth Circuit law, “a party cannot be compelled to produce documents in the possession of a non-party 27 affiliated entity unless the party has the legal right to compel the affiliate to provide the documents. It 28 is not sufficient to show that a subsidiary corporation has the practical ability to obtain documents from 1 its parent.” Docket No. 7036 at 3:7-11; see Citric Acid, 191 F.3d at 1107 (“[C]ontrol is defined as the 2 legal right to obtain documents upon demand.”) (citing United States v. International Union of 3 Petroleum & Indus. Workers, 870 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1989)). The Special Master found that 4 plaintiffs, which are American subsidiaries of Sony Corporation, “have provided undisputed evidence 5 that they do not have access in the ordinary course of business to documents from their parent, Sony 6 Corporation, of the types that defendants have requested, and that they do not have the legal right, by 7 contract or otherwise, to compel their parent to produce such documents.” Id. at 4:7-10. Defendants contend that the Special Master erred as a matter of law because “Citric Acid applies 9 only when the responding entity and the corporation possessing the documents have no corporate 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 8 affiliation.” Docket No. 7093 at 1:24-25. In support of this proposition, defendants largely rely on 11 cases from outside the Ninth Circuit, which the Special Master found “not controlling in the face of 12 contrary Ninth Circuit authority.” Id. at 4:23-24. Defendants also cite several district court cases within 13 the Ninth Circuit; the Special Master found that all but one of those cases was consistent with Citric 14 Acid, and that the one case was “out of line with Citric Acid and virtually every other Ninth Circuit case 15 [and therefore not] meaningful authority.” Id. at 5:8-9. Defendants seek an order compelling plaintiffs 16 to produce documents in the possession of Sony Corporation as well as documents in the possession of 17 non-party Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (“SCEI”), a wholly-owned Japanese subsidiary of Sony 18 Corporation. 19 The Court reviews the Special Master’s findings of fact for clear error, conclusions of law de 20 novo, and procedural rulings for an abuse of discretion. Amended Order Appointing Martin Quinn as 21 Special Master, Docket No. 6580 ¶ 18. The Court agrees with the analysis of the Special Master, and 22 accordingly OVERRULES defendants’ objection. In Citric Acid, the appellant asked the Ninth Circuit 23 —as defendants ask this Court— “to define ‘control’ in a manner that focuses on the party’s practical 24 ability to obtain the requested documents.” Citric Acid, 191 F.3d at 1107. The Ninth Circuit rejected 25 that argument, and held that “the legal control test is the proper standard under Rule 45.” Id. The 26 Special Master correctly analyzed the law and applied the legal control test in determining that plaintiffs 27 28 2 1 2 3 do not have the legal right to obtain documents upon demand from Sony Corporation1 For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Special Master did not abuse his discretion or commit clear error, and thus defendants’ objection is DENIED. 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 Dated: December 5, 2012 8 SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 1 28 The Special Master’s order did not explicitly address defendants’ request for documents in the possession of SCEI. However, the same analysis applies because it is undisputed that plaintiffs do not have legal control of SCEI’s documents. 3

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