C.C. v. Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (See Full Order.) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Suzuki Manufacturing of America Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporations Motion for Protective Order Regarding Plaintiffs Rule 30(b)(6) Notice of Deposition of Non-Pa rty Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. 78 is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Suzuki Motor Corporations Motion for Protective Order Regarding Plaintiffs First Set of Request for Admissions Directed to Defendant Suzuki Motor Corporation 79 is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part. Signed by District Judge E. Richard Webber on 2/13/2018. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
C.C., through his natural mother and
guardian, MELANIE GINNEVER,
SUZUKI MANUFACTURING OF
AMERICA CORPORATION, et al.,
No. 4:16CV01271 ERW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Suzuki Manufacturing of America
Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Motion for Protective Order Regarding Plaintiff’s
Rule 30(b)(6) Notice of Deposition of Non-Party Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.  and
Defendant Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Motion for Protective Order Regarding Plaintiff’s First
Set of Request for Admissions Directed to Defendant Suzuki Motor Corporation .
On August 4, 2016, Plaintiff C.C., through his natural mother and guardian, Melanie
Ginnever, (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint in this Court against Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.
(“SMAI”) and Suzuki Manufacturing of America Corporation (“SMAC”). Plaintiff was injured
when an ATV he was driving rolled over on top of him. Plaintiff alleges the subject ATV,
designed, manufactured, assembled, sold, and distributed by SMAI and SMAC, was in a
defective condition and was unreasonably dangerous, and SMAI and SMAC were negligent in
designing, manufacturing, distributing, and selling the ATV. On June 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed an
amended complaint removing SMAI as a defendant and adding Suzuki Motor Corporation
(“SMC”). On December 20, 2017, this Court entered an amended case management order which
closed discovery between Plaintiff and SMAC and set a deadline of April 30, 2018, to complete
discovery with SMC. Defendants SMAC and SMC (“Defendants”) filed the pending motions
asserting Plaintiff is extending discovery outside of the deadlines in the case management order,
is seeking more depositions than allowed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”), and
served requests for admissions which have no purpose but to harass and oppress SMC and
subject it to undue burden and expense.
Rule 26(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes a court to issue orders
concerning discovery to protect parties from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense” on a showing of good cause. “Although the federal rules permit liberal
discovery, it ‘is [to be] provided for the sole purpose of assisting in the preparation and trial, or
the settlement, of litigated disputes.’” Miscellaneous Docket Matter No. 1 v. Miscellaneous
Docket Matter No. 2, 197 F.3d 922, 925 (8th Cir. 1999) (quoting Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart,
467 U.S. 20, 34 (1984)). “Because of liberal discovery and the potential for abuse, the federal
rules ‘confer[ ] broad discretion on the [district] court to decide when a protective order is
appropriate and what degree of protection is required.’” Id. (quoting Seattle Times, 467 U.S. at
36). The moving party has the burden to demonstrate good cause for issuance of the protective
order and his claim of harm is based on more than stereotypical and conclusory statements. Id. at
926 (citing General Dynamics Corp. v. Selb Mfg. Co., 481 F.2d 1204, 1212 (8th Cir. 1973)).
Defendants SMC and SMAC request the Court enter a protective order prohibiting
Plaintiff from deposing SMAI through a FRCP 30(b)(6) deposition. Defendants argue Plaintiff
has already taken the ten depositions as allowed by the FRCP, the request is outside of the
discovery deadlines set in the amended case management order, it will cause undue burden and
expense, and the request is overbroad and seeks irrelevant information. In response, Plaintiff
argues defense counsel did not meaningfully meet and confer, there is no reason why the
deposition should not be taken, Plaintiff has only taken six fact depositions, and the notice is
limited and proportional to the needs of the case.
FRCP 26(a)(2) requires a party to obtain leave of court if the deposition request would
result in more than ten depositions being taken by the party. In this case, Plaintiff has taken six
depositions of fact witnesses and four depositions of experts. There is not clear case law on
whether expert depositions are included in the ten deposition limit in the FRCP. See C & C
Jewelry Mfg., Inc. v. West, No. C09-01303 JF (HRL), 2011 WL 767839 at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 28,
2011) (not including expert depositions in the ten deposition limit). The Court need not
determine if expert depositions are included in the FRCP limit because Plaintiff’s request for one
additional deposition is proportional to the needs of the case and is reasonable.
However, the Court agrees with Defendants the deposition is outside the discovery
deadlines set forth in the amended case management order. The Court limited additional
discovery to SMC and Plaintiff, not third-parties. However, due to the limited purpose of the
deposition and the relevance of the information sought to Plaintiff’s case, the Court will permit
Plaintiff to take the deposition outside the discovery deadlines. In the future, Plaintiff shall seek
leave of the Court, as required by the FRCP, before issuing subpoenas outside the discovery
deadlines. Plaintiff shall also pay for the reasonable travel costs incurred by Defendants for the
additional deposition and the cost of the transcript being provided to Defendants. Further, the
Court will limit the deposition to 90 minutes.
Finally, the Court will limit the topics listed in the deposition notice because some of the
information sought is overbroad and irrelevant. Plaintiff shall limit the information sought to
time periods when SMAI is in existence. Plaintiff shall also issue a new notice limiting what is
included as a substantially similar ATV, as three-wheelers are not substantially similar to the
four-wheeler subject ATV at issue in this case. Any topics in the notice which list “the Subject
ATV or any Suzuki ATV” shall be limited to the subject ATV or substantially similar ATVs.
The Court expects the parties to confer as to what information Plaintiff needs to further limit the
information requested to ensure the deposition is efficient and productive. For the above stated
reasons, the Court will grant, in part, and deny, in part, Defendants’ Motion for Protective Order.
Requests for Admissions
Defendant SMC seeks a protective order limiting Plaintiff’s First Set of Request for
Admissions Directed to Defendant SMC. According to SMC, the requests are redundant and
harassing and the answers have already been provided in corporate disclosures or other
discovery. Further, SMC claims many of the requests are disputed issues not appropriate for a
request for admission and would require defense counsels’ conclusions which are protected as
work-product. Plaintiff argues the requests are not excessive or burdensome because of the
simplicity of the requests and any requests regarding the absence of evidence are to seek to rebut
SMC’s counterfactual and speculative defense.
The purpose of requests for admissions is to narrow the issues and to provide notice of
the facts in dispute. See Nat’l Indep. Truckers Ins. Co. v. Gadway, No. 8:10CV253, 2011 WL
5554802 at *1 (D. Neb. Nov. 15, 2011). It is not to discover additional information, but to force
the opposing party to admit the truth of certain facts. Id. “Requests to admit are proper when they
are used to establish facts or the application of law to facts but not to establish legal
conclusions.” U.S. S.E.C. v. Nutmeg Grp, LLC, 285 F.R.D. 403, 405 (N.D. Ill. 2012). “A request
for admission may relate to (1) facts, or statements or opinions about the facts; (2) the
application of law to fact, or statements or opinions about the application of law to fact; or (3)
the genuineness of any described documents.” Margulis v. Euro-Pro Operating, LLC, No. 4:12CV-2371 CAS, 2013 WL 5442702 at *3 (E.D. Mo. Sep. 30, 2013).
The Court has reviewed each of the 79 requests for admissions. The Court will not issue a
protective order stating SMC does not need to answer any of the requests, because many of them
are simple, comply with the Federal Rules, are readily admitted or denied, and are not
burdensome for SMC to answer. SMC’s argument a protective order should be issued because
many of the requests for admissions concern issues and facts in dispute is unpersuasive. One of
the purposes of requests for admissions is to provide notice of the facts in dispute. However,
there are many requests outside of the scope of a request for admission. SMC will not be
required to answer any requests that require legal conclusions or ask for admissions that certain
testimony was stated in a deposition. SMC is not required to answer the following requests: 19,
40, 42, 48, 50, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, and 79. SMC shall respond to the remaining
requests for admissions within seven days of this order. SMC’s Motion will be granted, in part,
and denied, in part.
The Court is not unaware of the unprofessional commentary included in briefs filed in
this case. The Court expects all counsel to follow the rules of professional conduct, the local
rules, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court also expects counsel to work together
to accomplish the spirit of the rules, including conferring in good faith prior to filing discovery
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Suzuki Manufacturing of America
Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Motion for Protective Order Regarding Plaintiff’s
Rule 30(b)(6) Notice of Deposition of Non-Party Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.  is
GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Motion for
Protective Order Regarding Plaintiff’s First Set of Request for Admissions Directed to Defendant
Suzuki Motor Corporation  is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part.
Dated this 13th Day of February, 2018.
E. RICHARD WEBBER
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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