Al Noaimi et al v. Zaid et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part 69 Plaintiffs' Motion to Quash Subpoena. See order for deadlines. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen M. Humphreys on 10/5/2012. (sj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
NUAMAN ABDULLA AHMED AL
NOAIMI and DR. NADER MOHAMMAD
NAJIB HASSAM AHMAD
ZAID, a/k/a Gene H. Zaid,
JACAM MANUFACTURING LLC,
JACAM CHEMICAL COMPANY INC.,
JACAM MANUFACTURING CHEMICALS)
JACAM CHEMICALS LLC,
JACAM SPECIALTYCHEMICALS LLC, )
and JACAM CHEMICAL PARTNERS Ltd. )
Case No. 11-1156-EFM
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the court on plaintiffs’ motion to quash defendants’ proposed
subpoena to a company providing email services to plaintiffs. (Doc. 69).1 As explained in
greater detail below the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Although characterized as a motion to quash, the subpoena has not been formally
served. Plaintiffs’ motion is more in the nature of a request for a protective order.
Nature of the Case2
This case springs from complex business relationships between plaintiffs and
defendants concerning chemicals used in the oil production industry. Highly summarized,
Nuaman resides in Bahrain and Nader resides in Saudi Arabia.3 Zaid and defendants’
chemical manufacturing facilities are currently located in Kansas. Beginning in 1997, the
parties discussed and exchanged proposals and agreements concerning a joint venture that
contemplated the building of a chemical plant in Saudi Arabia. The joint venture, Specialty
Chemicals Co., Ltd. (JSC), was established in 2002; however, the chemical plant was never
built in Saudi Arabia as originally contemplated.
Instead, JSC evolved and Jacam
Chemicals, LLC (Jacam), a Sterling, Kansas company, manufactured the chemicals for
shipment to Saudi Arabia. In 2003, JSC’s partners and their respective ownership interests
were as follows:
Nuaman was the “Partner In Charge” and Nader was designated the “Partner (CEO) [of]
The “Background” section is based on the parties’ pleadings and briefs and should
not be construed as judicial findings or factual determinations concerning the parties’
complex business relationships.
For consistency and editorial clarity, the court utilizes the same informal names
used by the parties in their pleadings and briefs.
Planning & Operations.”4
Unfortunately, the business relationship deteriorated and plaintiffs allege that
defendants (1) breached the parties’ contracts, (2) breached their fiduciary duty, (3) refused
to provide an accounting, and (4) engaged in fraud. Specifically, Nader and Nuaman contend
that they invested almost $4 million dollars with Jacam pursuant to various contracts which
Jacam breached. They also allege that Jacam failed to implement a program to obtain “U.S.
green cards” for the plaintiffs and failed to pay commissions to Nader on certain sales of
Defendants deny that plaintiffs are entitled to any recovery and assert counterclaims
for (1) breach of contract, (2) breach of fiduciary duty, and (3) fraud.5 Jacam contends that
it provided JSC with over $3 million dollars’ worth of chemicals at cost which JSC then sold
to Saudi customers at a substantial markup.6 Jacam’s counterclaim asserts that Nader and
Nuaman failed to provide a financial accounting or otherwise distribute the profits from the
joint venture. Jacam believes that the money which plaintiffs “invested” with Jacam is
actually the profit earned from the sale of Jacam’s chemicals.
Nader and Nuaman apparently provided day-to-day management for JSC and Zaid
and Jacam contributed technical expertise and chemical products to JSC.
Both sides also assert claims of unjust enrichment.
In its counterclaim Jacam alleges that it sold over $3,000,000 of product to JSC but
asserts in its motion that plaintiffs have failed to account for “nearly $4MM worth of
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Quash Subpoena (Doc. 69)
Consistent with Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(b), defendants served plaintiffs with notice of their
intent to serve a records subpoena on Mail2World, Inc., a company that provided Nader with
an email address (JACAM@mail2world.com) during a period of time relevant to this lawsuit.
Defendants prepared the subpoena for Mail2World because defendants’ discovery requests
directly to Nader and Nuaman for relevant email messages have not been produced.7
Plaintiffs object and move to quash the subpoena. Specifically, plaintiffs argue that the
subpoena is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and has the practical effect of requiring the
production of Nader’s communications “without any intermediate review to determine the
presence of privileged communications.” Plaintiffs also argue that “production could violate
the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.” Plaintiffs’ objections are discussed in greater
Defendants’ proposed subpoena asks Mail2World, Inc. to produce “all email and
attachments thereto, without regard to date, sent to or from the email address of
firstname.lastname@example.org or JACAM@mail2world.com.”
The subpoena also instructs
Nader and Nuaman have repeatedly assured defendants that they are trying to
retrieve the email messages from Mail2World but claim to have encountered unspecified
“technological issues.” After the passage of eleven months with no progress in securing
the records from Nader and Nuaman, defendants seek to secure the email messages
directly from Mail2World.
Mail2World to provide defense counsel with an estimate of any costs associated with this
request before gathering and/or copying the requested email. Plaintiffs contend that the
request is overly broad because it is not limited to a specific period of time or scope. See
Theofel v. Farey-Jones, 359 F. 3d 106 (9th Cir. 2004); In re Subpoena Duces Tecum to AOL,
LLC 550 F. Supp. 2d 606 (E.D.Va. 2008).
Plaintiffs’ argument that the subpoena should be quashed because it is overly broad
is not persuasive because they offer no factual explanation or context for their objection and
merely cite the rulings in Theofel and AOL LLC. Theofel is a Ninth Circuit ruling and AOL,
LLC is an Eastern District of Virginia ruling and neither opinion is binding authority on this
court. More importantly, the issue of whether a discovery request is overly broad is
determined by the particular circumstances of the case. Defendants contend, and plaintiffs
do not dispute, that Nader created the email address JACAM@mail2world.com to send and
receive emails related to Jacam and JSC. Notably absent from plaintiffs’ motion is any
suggestion of a “relevant time period” for the discovery of email communications.8
Plaintiffs’ conclusory argument that the subpoena is overly broad lacks sufficient factual
information and is rejected.
Plaintiffs have requested and received email discovery from defendants dating
back to 1997.
Plaintiffs assert the conclusory objection that the request for “all” emails is unduly
Aside from this conclusory objection, plaintiffs present no evidence
whatsoever concerning the “burden” this requests places on Mail2World. Plaintiffs have
failed to carry their burden of supporting their objection; thus, the objection based on undue
burden is rejected.
Plaintiffs assert that the two email addresses formerly belonged to Dr. Nader Obeid
and that “responsive documents would likely include personal, confidential, and privileged
communications unrelated to this litigation.” (Doc. 70, p. 2, emphasis added). However,
plaintiffs provide no further information or explanation concerning the “likely” content of
the requested email production. Plaintiffs also argue that the subpoena requires that the
documents be produced to defense counsel “without any intermediate review to determine
the presence of privileged communications.”
Again, plaintiffs’ merely assert a conclusory allegation, without any factual evidence,
that the email addresses that were created to send and receive emails related to Jacam and
JSC contain personal, confidential, and privileged communications. More importantly,
defendants offer to amend the subpoena to instruct Mail2World to send the emails directly
to plaintiffs’ counsel for review before production to defendants. This modification resolves
plaintiffs’ objection that privileged communications might be inadvertently provided to
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act
Plaintiffs argue that the subpoena “likely violates federal law” and “alternatively,
production could violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).” (Doc. 70,
pp 4-5).9 Plaintiffs’ vague argument that the subpoena “likely violates federal law” is
summarily rejected because the argument is unsupported by any coherent argument. The
alternative argument concerning the Electronic Communications Privacy Act also lacks
substantive discussion, although plaintiffs again cite the AOL LLC case from the Eastern
District of Virginia. In AOL LLC, Judge Lee concluded that a civil subpoena under Fed. R.
Civ. P. 45 is not an exception recognized by the ECPA. Id. at 550 F. Supp. 2d 611.
Research reveals no controlling authority in the Tenth Circuit or in the District of
Kansas concerning the ECPA and the use of a civil subpoena. However, the court need not
resolve the issue of whether a civil discovery subpoena, standing alone, is an exception to
ECPA because the Act allows an internet storage provider to produce records with the
consent of the subscriber. See 18 U.S.C.§ 2702(b)(3). Nader, the subscriber, is a plaintiff
in this case; therefore, the court has authority under Fed. R. Civ. P. 1, 26(b)(2) and 26(c) to
require Nader to execute a consent that satisfies 18 U.S.C. § 2702(b)(3). Nader’s consent,
when attached to the subpoena, alleviates any concern that production might violate the
The ECPA is codified as 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-03.
Plaintiffs’ motion to quash contains conclusory objections with no supporting facts.
Defendants counter with factual information explaining the context of the subpoena and offer
modifications to alleviate plaintiffs’ concerns. For reasons unexplained, plaintiffs filed no
reply brief contesting defendants’ arguments or proposed modifications. Based on the
limited record, defendants shall proceed with service of the subpoena on Mail2World with
the modifications discussed herein.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiffs’ motion to quash (Doc. 70) is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Plaintiffs shall execute a consent for the
release of email communications associated with the two email addresses by October 15,
2012. The consent shall be attached to and served with the subpoena issued to Mail2World.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the subpoena shall be modified to direct
production of the requested emails to plaintiffs’ counsel. Plaintiffs’ counsel shall produce
the emails and/or a privilege log to defendants within 30 days of receipt of the email
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated at Wichita, Kansas this 5th day of October 2012.
S/ Karen M. Humphreys
KAREN M. HUMPHREYS
United States Magistrate Judge
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