Leisman et al v. Archway Medical, Inc.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel (ECF No. 80 ) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant shall produce documents relating to Defendant's settlement with Sarah Beachler for unpaid commissions on Tornier arthroplasty products between 2010 and 2013 and provide deposition testimony pertaining to this settlement. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on December 9, 2015. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
J. MILES LEISMAN, et al.,
ARCHWAY MEDICAL, INC.,
No. 4:14CV1222 RLW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Deposition Testimony
and Production of Documents (ECF No. 80). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
disposition. Upon consideration of the motion and related memoranda, the Court will grant
Plaintiffs' motion to compel.
This case stems from Defendant' s alleged failure to pay commissions to Plaintiffs on the
sales of Tomier arthroplasty products. Plaintiffs now seek documents and deposition testimony
related to the previous resolution of unpaid commissions with another independent contractor
sales consultant. Specifically, Plaintiffs seek information regarding Defendant's settlement
agreement with Sara Beachler, a prior sales consultant, for unpaid commissions on Tomier
arthroplasty products between 2010 and 2013. Plaintiffs request documents pertaining to this
settlement, as well as communications between Jim O' Day, President of Defendant Archway
Medical, Inc., and Ms. Beachler. Plaintiffs also seek follow-up deposition testimony regarding
settlement from Mr. O'Day. Defendant maintains that the evidence Plaintiffs request in the
motion to compel is inadmissible and therefore not discoverable.
The amended Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(l), effective December 1, 2015 ,
provides that " [p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant
to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case .... " Rule 26(b)(l)
also states, " [i]nformation within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
be discoverable." Under the former Rule 26(b)(l), "[r]elevant information need not be
admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
Both versions of Rule 26(b)(l) do not require the discovery sought to be admissible at
trial, merely relevant to any party' s claim or defense. Here, Plaintiffs claim that information
pertaining to the settlement agreement between Defendant and Ms. Beachler is relevant to their
claims that Defendant willfully refused to pay commissions and acted in bad faith. The Court
agrees that this information is relevant to Plaintiffs' claims.
In response, however, Defendant contends that Plaintiffs must meet a heightened
standard to show the admissibility of the confidential settlement agreement. In support,
Defendant relies on Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Mid-America Piping, Inc., No. 4:07CV00394, 2008
WL 2570820, at *2 (E.D. Mo. June 26, 2008). In that case, Defendants had already disclosed all
terms of the agreement other than the specific amount of the settlement. Id. The court noted that
when the requested discovery pertained to a confidential settlement agreement, some courts
required the party seeking discovery to meet a heightened standard in deference to Federal Rule
of Evidence 408 and the public policy encouraging settlements and upholding confidentiality
provisions. Id. (citations and internal quotation omitted). The court then applied the relevance
standard under Rule 26(b) to determine that, in light of the redacted agreement, the disclosure of
the amount would not lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Id.; see also Argonaut Great
Cent. Ins. Co. v. Audrain Cty. Joint Commc 'ns, No. 2:11CV00034 AGF, 2013 WL 28246, at *2
(E.D. Mo. Jan. 2, 2013) (noting the Auto-Owners court :employed the normal standard of
relevance under Rule 26(b) in granting a motion to quash production of the settlement amounts
for which settling defendants settled the claims against them"). In Argonaut, the court found the
settlement agreement to be relevant to the case but entered a protective order to address
confidentiality concerns. 2013 WL 28246, at *2.
Here, Defendant does not assert that the information sought is not relevant or is otherwise
privileged. Defendant's sole argument is that the requested discovery is inadmissible. Rule
26(b) explicitly states that information need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
Further, while Defendant has attached a redacted settlement agreement, the redaction has
essentially eliminated the entire agreement. Although Defendant contends that courts in this
district require Plaintiffs to meet a heightened standard of admissibility in deference to Federal
Rule of Evidence 408 and the confidentiality of settlement agreements, Defendant points to no
case in this district where such standard was actually applied. Therefore, the Court finds that the
settlement agreement between Defendant and Sarah Beachler, along with related
communications and deposition testimony, is relevant to this case, within the scope of discovery,
and thus discoverable. The Court grants Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel and notes the protective
order currently in place, which allows Defendant to protect the confidential nature of the
agreement and related information.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel (ECF No. 80) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant shall produce documents relating to
Defendant's settlement with Sarah Beachler for unpaid commissions on Tornier arthroplasty
products between 2010 and 2013 and provide deposition testimony pertaining to this settlement.
Dated this 9th day of December, 2015.
RONNIE L. WIDTE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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