Toto, Inc. v. Sony Music Entertainment

Filing 28

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM NONDISPOSTIVE PRETRIAL ORDER OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE re 27 MOTION FOR RELIEF, filed by Toto, Inc. Signed by Judge Jon S. Tigar on March 20, 2014. (wsn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/20/2014)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 TOTO, INC., Case No. 13-mc-80168-JST Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, Defendant. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM NONDISPOSTIVE PRETRIAL ORDER OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE Re: ECF No. 27 Before the Court is Plaintiff Toto, Inc.’s motion for relief from Magistrate Judge Ryu’s 13 Order on Joint Discovery Letter, ECF No. 23, denying Toto’s motion to compel discovery 14 responses to a third party subpoena it issued to Apple, Inc. Mot., ECF No. 27. 15 A district court may modify or set aside a magistrate judge’s nondispositive order “where 16 it has been shown that the magistrate judge’s order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 17 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(A). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); Bhan v. NME Hospitals, Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 18 1414 (9th Cir. 1991). A magistrate judge’s resolution of a discovery dispute is “entitled to great 19 deference.” Doubt v. NCR Corp., No. 09-cv-5917-SBA, 2011 WL 5914284, at *2 (N.D. Cal. 20 Nov. 28, 2011). “A finding of fact is clearly erroneous” if the court is left with the “definite and 21 firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Burdick v. C.I.R., 979 F.2d 1369, 1370 (9th 22 Cir. 1992). “A decision is ‘contrary to law’ if it applies an incorrect legal standard or fails to 23 consider an element of the applicable standard.” Conant v. McCoffey, No. 97–0139-FMS, 1998 24 WL 164946, *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar.16, 1998) (citing Hunt v. National Broadcasting Co., 872 F.2d 25 289, 292 (9th Cir. 1989)). Mixed questions of fact and law are reviewed de novo. United States v. 26 McConney, 728 F.2d 1195, 1202–03 (9th Cir. 1984) (en banc), overruled on other grounds by 27 Estate of Merchant v. C.I.R., 947 F.2d 1390, 1392–93 (9th Cir.1991). However, where “factual 28 issues predominate,” the “clearly erroneous” standard applies. Garvais v. United States, 421 F. 1 2 App’x 769, 770 (9th Cir. 2011). The subpoena at issue sought from non-party Apple the production of agreements between 3 Apple and non-party UMG Recordings, Inc. Toto contends the agreements, which were the 4 subject of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in F.B.T. Productions, LLC v. Aftermath Records, 621 F.3d 5 958, 964–66 (9th Cir. 2010), are relevant to its underlying case against Defendant Sony Music 6 Entertainment, now pending in the Southern District of New York, Case No. 12-cv-1434-RJS. 7 Toto claims that its agreements with Sony are similar to the agreements at issue in F.B.T., but the 8 full agreements in that case were filed under seal. Toto wants to compare the agreements with its 9 own in order to establish that its agreements with Sony are license agreements, just as the 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Apple/UMG agreements were held to be in F.B.T. Judge Ryu found that the documents are not relevant because “whether any particular case 12 is applicable precedent is not a proper subject for factual discovery from a non-party.” ECF No. 13 23 at 3. Because Toto failed to assert that the agreements it seeks are factually connected to the 14 underlying suit in any way, but instead are sought in order to “go beyond the four corners” of the 15 Ninth Circuit’s F.B.T. decision in Toto’s own litigation with Sony, Judge Ryu denied Toto’s 16 motion to compel. 17 Toto contends that Judge Ryu erred in reaching this conclusion, but cites no authority 18 holding that documents are discoverable from a third party solely because the third party was party 19 to a different, unrelated lawsuit concerning a similar legal question. In denying the motion to 20 compel, Judge Ryu noted that, under Toto’s logic, any party in a breach of contract case that finds 21 a breach of contract decision helpful to its client would be entitled to obtain discovery from the 22 parties to the unrelated case, even though neither the non-parties nor their contracts have any 23 factual connection to the litigation. This Court finds Judge Ryu’s reasoning persuasive. 24 Toto’s additional arguments that the agreements it seeks are not confidential, or that any 25 confidentiality concerns could be mitigated through a protective order, miss the point. Apple 26 objected on relevance grounds, which Judge Ryu sustained. This means the documents are not 27 discoverable whether or not they are confidential. 28 Finally, Toto argues UMG lacked standing to resist compliance with the subpoena. 2 1 Because Toto did not raise that argument before Judge Ryu, the Court declines to consider it. See 2 Greenhow v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 863 F.2d 633, 638 (9th Cir. 1988) overruled on 3 other grounds by United States v. Hardesty, 977 F.2d 1347 (9th Cir. 1992). 4 Toto has failed by a wide margin to meet its burden of demonstrating that Magistrate Judge 5 Ryu’s conclusions of fact were clearly erroneous or that her conclusions of law were contrary to 6 law. Toto’s motion for relief is hereby DENIED. 7 8 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 20, 2014 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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