The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Maze Innovations, Inc
OPINION re: Motion to Quash. Signed by Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti on 10/12/2016. (ten) [Transferred from Pennsylvania Western on 10/13/2016.]
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISCTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
THE GREEN PET SHOP
MAZE INNOVATIONS, INC.,
Misc. Action No. 16-894
(Pending in N.D. Ill. at 1:15-cv-1138)
On October 7, 2016, non-party Davison Design and Development, Inc.
(“Davison”) filed a motion to quash a subpoena issued by counsel for plaintiff The Green Pet
Shop Enterprises, LLC (“GPS”), in the above-captioned matter. (ECF No. 1.) The abovecaptioned matter is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois (the “Chicago Court”). The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Maze Innovations, Inc.,
1:15-cv-1138 (N.D. Ill.) (the “Chicago Action”). The Chicago Action is a patent infringement
case in which GPS, accuses Maze Innovations, Inc. (“Maze”) of infringing two patents that are
“directed to an innovative cooling platform for pets.” (Chicago Action, ECF No. 74-1 at 1.) The
subpoena issued to Davison, which maintains its principal place of business in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, seeks the production of documents related to a product purportedly described on
Davison’s website as the “Chilly Mat,” and communications between Maze and Davison about
that product. (ECF No. 1-2 (the “Subpoena”) at 5 (¶ 10).)
Davison moves to quash the Subpoena on various grounds, including that the
Subpoena a) was issued months after the fact-discovery cut-off date in the Chicago Action, b)
was improperly served, c) fails to include the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(d) and
(e), d) violates the 100-mile limitation of Rule 45(c)(2)(A), e) fails to allow a reasonable time for
compliance, f) requests the production of confidential, trade secret materials, g) imposes an
undue burden on Davison, and h) is vague and overbroad. (ECF No. 1.)
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure subpoenas are issued from the court
where the action is pending, and motions to enforce or excuse compliance with subpoenas are
addressed to the court where compliance is required. FED.R.CIV.P. 45(a)(2). The rule permits the
compliance court to “transfer a motion under this rule to the issuing court if the person subject to
the subpoena consents or if the court finds exceptional circumstances.” FED.R.CIV.P. 45(f). The
Advisory Committee notes provide some guidance as to when exceptional circumstances may be
The prime concern should be avoiding burdens on local nonparties
subject to subpoenas, and it should not be assumed that the issuing
court is in a superior position to resolve subpoena-related motions.
In some circumstances, however, transfer may be warranted in
order to avoid disrupting the issuing court's management of the
underlying litigation, as when that court has already ruled on issues
presented by the motion or the same issues are likely to arise in
discovery in many districts. Transfer is appropriate only if such
interests outweigh the interests of the nonparty served with the
subpoena in obtaining local resolution of the motion.
FED.R.CIV.P. 45, advisory committee's note.
The Subpoena was issued from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, where the Chicago Action is pending. (ECF No. 1-2 at 1.) The Subpoena
commands Davison to produce documents at the offices of counsel for GPS, in Chicago, Illinois.
(Id.) The issuing court and the compliance court are, therefore, the same. Because motions to
quash subpoenas must be filed in the district where compliance is required, Davison’s motion
should have been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
FED.R.CIV.P. 45(d)(3)(A). For this reason alone, Davison’s motion to quash must be transferred
to that court.
To the extent that Davison filed the motion in this court, which maintains a
division in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, because Davison can only be commanded to produce
documents at a place within 100 miles of where it regularly transacts business, this court finds
that exceptional circumstances warrant transferring this motion to the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Illinois. FED.R.CIV.P. 45(c)(2)(A) & (f). The court reaches
this conclusion based upon public filings made in this matter and in the Chicago Action.
Responses from GPS or Maze, therefore, are not necessary under the circumstances. The
interests of justice compel this court to act swiftly in order to ensure that the judge presiding over
the Chicago Action has the power to effectively and efficiently manage that matter and to
enforce the deadlines it has established.
Any burden on Davison by being required to obtain an order quashing the
Subpoena from the Chicago Court is outweighed by the risk that proceedings in this court would
disrupt the Chicago Court’s management of the Chicago Action or be inconsistent with that
court’s rulings on the same, or similar issues. In January 2016, the Chicago Court set a fact
discovery cut-off date of July 14, 2016. Chicago Action, ECF No. 58. On July 1, 2016, GPS and
Maze jointly sought an extension of that deadline until September 23, 2016 for the limited
purpose of conducting depositions. Chicago Action, ECF No. 66-1. The Chicago Court granted
that request. The Subpoena to Davison, which does not notice a deposition, was signed on
September 22, 2016, received by Davison on September 26, 2016, and demanded production of
documents on October 6, 2016. (ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 1-2 at 1.) This brief procedural
history of the Chicago Action demonstrates that non-deposition fact discovery ended more than
two months before GPS issued the Subpoena to Davison. Although the parties sought more time
for depositions, there is no indication on the public docket for the Chicago Action that the parties
sought an extension of the July 14, 2016 fact-discovery cut-off date in order to obtain documents
from non-parties. Under these circumstances, the Chicago Court should decide whether the
Subpoena issued to Davison violated its case management orders.
In addition, the Chicago Court can better assess how the documents sought from
Davison substantively relate to the Chicago Action. Notably, GPS filed a motion for summary
judgment seeking a ruling that the asserted patents are not invalid over the published prior art as
a matter of law. Chicago Action, ECF No. 74-1. It is unclear whether the documents sought
from Davison are relevant to that motion, or to any legal or factual issues that may be pertinent
to the resolution of it. The Chicago Court should make these assessments.
It is also unclear whether the production of documents from Davison will affect
the Chicago Court’s claim construction proceedings. In the Chicago Action, briefing on claim
construction began in August 2016, and appears to have been completed on September 15, 2016.
Chicago Action, ECF Nos.70, 77; L.P.R. 4.2 (N.D. Ill.). A claim construction hearing is
scheduled for November 4, 2016. Chicago Action, ECF No. 72. With a Markman hearing
imminent, any risk that this court could disrupt the claim construction proceedings must be
avoided. All decisions possibly affecting the Chicago Action’s claim construction proceedings
should be centralized in the Chicago Court.
For these reasons, the court concludes that exceptional circumstances justify
transfer of Davison’s motion to quash to the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Pennsylvania. Although the court recognizes that this ruling interferes with Davison’s
interest in obtaining local resolution of its motion to quash, Davison’s interests are outweighed
by the risk that this court’s rulings could be inconsistent with prior rulings or orders issued by the
Chicago Court, or would interfere with that court’s ongoing proceedings. Although all case
management decisions rest entirely within the discretion of the Chicago Court, this court notes
that there are now various ways in which the burdens on remote non-parties can be ameliorated,
including the use of telephonic or video conferencing, to the extent that any hearing on
Davison’s motion to quash is deemed necessary.
For the foregoing reasons, this matter will be transferred forthwith to the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for adjudication by Judge Kennelly, who
is presently presiding over the matter captioned The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Maze
Innovations, Inc., 1:15-cv-1138, or any other judge to whom that matter is assigned at the time of
transfer. An appropriate order will be filed contemporaneously with this opinion.
October 12, 2016
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Joy Flowers Conti
Joy Flowers Conti
Chief U.S. District Judge
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