Trident Steel Corporation v. Reitz et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER; IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Trident Steel Corporation's Motion to Compel (Doc. No. 45 ) is DENIED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Terry I. Adelman on 12/14/2012. (DJO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
TRIDENT STEEL CORPORATION,
No. 4:11CV1040 TIA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Trident Steel Corporation’s (“Trident”) Motion
to Compel. The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
On April 27, 2011, Trident filed a seven count Petition in the Circuit Court of St. Louis
County against Defendant Gregory Reitz (“Reitz”) and against Sabine Pipe, Inc., which this Court
subsequently dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Trident’s claims against Reitz generally allege that
Reitz unlawfully misappropriated confidential information and misdirected sales and customers from
Trident to Sabine during Reitz’ employment with Trident. On September 7, 2012, Trident filed the
present Motion to Compel, seeking answers to Interrogatories 1 and 2 contained in Plaintiff’s Second
Set of Interrogatories. The first interrogatory inquires “whether any third party has agreed to
indemnify you, in whole or in part, or pay for any fees, costs and/or expenses associated with your
defense of Trident Steel Corporation’s claims against you in this case.” (Mem. in Support of Mot.
to Compel Ex. A, ECF No. 46-1) Interrogatory 2 asks “whether any third party has agreed to
indemnify you, in whole or in part, or pay for any portion of any judgment that may be entered against
you in this case.” (Id.) Reitz objected to these interrogatories on the basis that they were vague and
ambiguous and were not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Id.)
Reitz also objected because they requested information outside the scope of Rule 26. (Id.) With
regard to Interrogatory 2, however, Reitz also stated that he had no personal knowledge of any
insurance coverage indemnifying him for any judgment entered against him. (Id.)
Trident argues that these interrogatories are relevant to Reitz’s bias and/or credibility and are
reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence supporting Trident’s claims.
Trident relies on one case from this district and non-binding cases from California to assert that feepayment arrangements are relevant to the issues of credibility and bias, which in turn is reasonably
calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence supporting Trident’s claims. The
undersigned finds Trident’s arguments and cited cases unpersuasive such that the motion to compel
should be denied.
In TAMKO Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Factory Mut. Ins. Co., No. 4:10CV891 CDP, 2011 WL
4834460 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 12, 2011), the plaintiff sought discovery related to the bias of an insurance
appraiser in a dispute over the amount of business interruption losses. Id. at *1. The plaintiff alleged
fraud and suppression against the Defendant in selecting a biased appraiser and concealing the bias.
Id. United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry found that “[d]iscovery into appraisal bias is
relevant because Missouri law and the contract involved in this case both require a fair and
disinterested process. The validity of the appraisal process is also directly related to [plaintiff’s]
claims for breach of contract, vexatious refusal to pay, fraud, and suppression.” Id. at *4.
Here, Trident jumps to the conclusion that, similar to TAMKO, discovery into Reitz’s bias
and credibility are directly related to the claims against Reitz for breach of duty of loyalty, fraud,
tortious interference, and unfair competition. However, Trident fails to demonstrate how the
discovery of Reitz’s fee arrangement is relevant to those claims against Reitz.
In TAMKO, the
alleged appraiser bias went to the heart of plaintiff’s claims for fraud based on Missouri and contract
law, and Judge Perry based her decision on the facts specific to that case. Id.
Here, however, the Trident has not provided any explanation, other than bald conclusions,
for its premise that discovery of Reitz’s fee arrangement is relevant under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b). See
Uche v. North Star Capital Acquisition, LLC, Nos. 4:09CV3106, 4:09CV3123, 2010 WL 2089270,
at *1 n.4 (D. Neb. May 21, 2010) (“the court will not entertain motions to compel unless a party
gives a detailed explanation regarding how the requested discovery ‘is relevant to any party’s claim
or defense’ and ‘reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.’ Fed. R. Civ.
P. 26(b)(1).”) Instead, Trident acknowledges that it is entitled to “explore” Reitz’s credibility and
bias. (Reply Brief in Sup. of Mot. to Compel 2, ECF No. 49) With regard to the three cases from
California upon which Trident heavily relies, while these cases provide holdings regarding feepayment arrangements and their relationship to credibility and bias issues, the cases contain dissimilar
facts and are not binding upon this Court.1 In short, the Court finds that Trident has not sustained
its burden under Rule 26(b) of showing that the requested discovery is “relevant to the subject matter
involved in the action.”
U.S. v. Cathcart, No. C 07-4762 PJH, 2009 WL 1764642 (N.D. Cal. June 18, 2009);
Berger v. Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, No. C 07-05279 JSW, 2008 WL 4570687 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 14,
2008); Bryant v. Mattel, Inc., 573 F. Supp. 2d 1254 (C.D. Cal. 2007).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Trident Steel Corporation’s Motion to Compel
(Doc. No. 45) is DENIED.
/s/ Terry I. Adelman
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dated this 13th day of December, 2012.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?