MEYN AMERICA LLC v. TARHEEL DISTRIBUTORS INC et al
ORDER DENYING 71 Motion to Compel and DENYNG 71 Motion for Sanctions. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE MARC THOMAS TREADWELL on 11/16/2015. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
MEYN AMERICA, LLC,
TARHEEL DISTRIBUTORS, INC., and
JOSEPH P. ZAJAC,
DONALD ANDREW MCCOY, JR.,
BLUEBEAK DISTRIBUTORS INC., and
LTA DISTRIBUTING, LLC,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:14-CV-41(MTT)
Defendant Tarheel Distributors, Inc. has moved to compel Plaintiff Meyn
America, LLC to provide further information in response to an interrogatory served by
Tarheel. (Doc. 71). The motion also seeks sanctions against Tarheel. Id. For the
following reasons, the motions are DENIED.
Lengthy discussion is not necessary.
Pursuant to the Court’s practice, the Court convened a conference on July 2,
2015 to discuss Tarheel’s dissatisfaction with responses to interrogatories served by
Tarheel on Meyn. After hearing from the parties, it was apparent that Meyn had not
discharged its discovery obligations, primarily because it had not done the legwork
necessary to gather the data to respond properly to the interrogatories. Accordingly, the
Court directed Meyn to provide appropriate responses.
Meyn clearly recognized and appreciated the Court’s dissatisfaction. It
assembled a six-person team of Meyn employees to review each of the more than
3,000 drawings at issue in the case. This team marked each drawing to illustrate the
elements of the drawings that Meyn contends made the drawings trade secrets. Meyn
produced these drawings to the Defendants and revised its interrogatory responses.
Tarheel contends that Meyn’s response to one interrogatory, Interrogatory 4, is
still insufficient. Interrogatory 4 asked Meyn to identifythe data in each drawing that it
contends is not readily ascertainable from reverse engineering the part depicted in the
drawing.. In its response to Interrogatory 4, Meyn noted the color-coded drawings and
stated that “most or all of the trade secret elements marked by Meyn on the drawings
taken by Doug Lee and referenced in response to Interrogatory No. 1 are not readily
ascertainable by proper means.” (Doc. 78-2 at 8) (emphasis added). Tarheel contends
this response is insufficient because “most or all” does not specifically identify each part
which Meyn contended could not be reverse engineered.
Meyn gives several reasons why its response was appropriate. It is only
necessary to discuss one. Meyn contends that the elements it highlighted in the
drawings “are not readily ascertainable using proper means because it is extremely
difficult to obtain a sample part and then it is both expensive and time-consuming to
divine the seven trade secret elements from a sample part.” (Doc. 78 at 7). Thus, it is
Meyn’s position that whether a part can be reverse engineered is dependent upon
whether a sample part can be obtained. Because Meyn does not sell its parts to
competitors such as Tarheel, Meyn believes that Tarheel would experience
considerable difficulty acquiring sample parts. However, it does not know precisely
which parts Tarheel could not obtain. Meyn notes that it has asked Tarheel to identify
the sources from which Tarheel obtained parts for the purpose of reverse engineering
but Tarheel has not provided that information. Meyn contends that if Tarheel would
provide that information, it could be more specific with regard to which parts are hard to
In short, Meyn contends that it has given the only answer it can. Because it
believes that “most or all” of the parts cannot be acquired by Tarheel, then Tarheel
cannot reverse engineer most or all of the parts. But it cannot unequivocally say that
Tarheel could obtain no sample parts. The Court finds this to be a reasonable
explanation for its interrogatory response and that the response is sufficient.
Accordingly, Tarheel’s motion is DENIED.
SO ORDERED, this 16th day of November, 2015.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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