Lyons v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company

Filing 28

ORDER denying Defendant's 19 Motion to Quash Subpoena. Signed by Judge John H. Chun. (SB)

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Case 3:22-cv-05462-JHC Document 28 Filed 11/17/22 Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 6 7 8 JOHN LYONS, Plaintiff, 9 10 11 12 CASE NO. 3:22-cv-05462-JHC ORDER v. USAA CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant. 13 14 I. 15 INTRODUCTION 16 This matter comes before the Court on Defendant’s “Motion to Quash, or in the 17 Alternative, Motion for a Protective Order.” See Dkt. # 19. For the reasons below, the Court 18 DENIES the motion. 19 II. 20 BACKGROUND 21 Plaintiff sued USAA Casualty Insurance Company (“USAA Insurer”) alleging 22 misconduct in the handling of his home insurance policy. Dkt. # 1. Plaintiff later sought leave 23 to amend the complaint; in part, to add a claim for wrongful termination against his former 24 ORDER - 1 Case 3:22-cv-05462-JHC Document 28 Filed 11/17/22 Page 2 of 5 1 employer, a USAA Insurer affiliate named “United Services Automobile Association” (“USAA 2 Employer”). Dkt. ## 10, 12. Plaintiff alleged that USAA Employer fired him in part because he 3 filed and vigorously pursued an insurance claim with his employer’s affiliate, USAA Insurer. 4 The Court denied this part of the motion for leave to amend. Dkt. # 26. The Court concluded 5 that allowing joinder of USAA Employer would violate the rule of “complete diversity” and 6 would therefore deprive the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. Id. 7 The subpoena at issue in this motion seeks information from non-party Lincoln National 8 Life Insurance Company. The subpoena mainly requests that Lincoln National produce 9 information related to Plaintiff’s employment (such as leave requests, employee benefit plans, or 10 disability insurance plans), but also seeks “[a]ll correspondence with or relating to Plaintiff.” See 11 Dkt. ## 20 at 8; 19 at 2. 12 III. 13 ANALYSIS 14 Defendant moves to quash the subpoena and, in the alternative, for a protective order. 15 Dkt. # 19. Defendant argues that the discovery sought is not relevant to any of Plaintiff’s 16 insurance-related causes of action. Id. at 4–7. Rather, Defendant says that discovery is relevant 17 only to the wrongful termination claim against USAA Employer proposed as part of Plaintiff’s 18 motion for leave to amend, which, as noted, the Court has since denied. Id.; Dkt. # 26 (denying 19 in part motion for leave to amend). In its reply brief, Defendant also argues that the subpoena is 20 void because it exceeds the subject matter jurisdiction of the Court. Dkt. # 25 at 2. 21 Plaintiff opposes Defendant’s motion on two grounds. First, Plaintiff argues that 22 Defendant lacks standing to quash the subpoena. Dkt. # 21 at 7–8. Second, he asserts that the 23 information sought is relevant not only to the since dismissed employment claim, but also to the 24 insurance-related claims. Id. at 9. ORDER - 2 Case 3:22-cv-05462-JHC Document 28 Filed 11/17/22 Page 3 of 5 1 A party generally lacks standing to quash a subpoena issued to a non-party under Federal 2 Rule of Civil Procedure 45 “unless the party claims a personal right or privilege with respect to 3 the documents requested in the subpoena.” See, e.g., Erickson v. Microaire Surgical Instruments 4 LLC, No. C08-5745BHS, 2010 WL 1881946, at *2 (W.D. Wash. May 6, 2010); 9A Charles Alan 5 Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 2459 (3d ed. 2008) (“Ordinarily a 6 party has no standing to seek to quash a subpoena issued to someone who is not a party to the 7 action, unless the objecting party claims some personal right or privilege with respect to the 8 documents sought.”); Freed v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., No. 18cv359-BAS (LL), 2019 WL 9 582346, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 13, 2019); Televisa, S.A. de C.V. v. Univision Communications, 10 Inc., No. CV 05-3444 PSGMANX, 2008 WL 4951213, at *1–2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 17, 2008). But 11 “[t]he Ninth Circuit has yet to address the question of whether a party has standing to bring a 12 motion to quash since usually only the subpoenaed non-party may move to quash.” California 13 Sportfishing Prot. All. v. Chico Scrap Metal, Inc., 299 F.R.D. 638, 643 (E.D. Cal. 2014). 14 Here, Defendant identifies no “right or privilege in the information sought to be 15 disclosed.” Freed, 2019 WL 582346, at *2. Defendant does not, for example, argue that the 16 discovery sought contains its confidential or privileged information, or that Defendant has any 17 cognizable interest in preventing disclosure. Instead, Defendant merely argues that the 18 information sought is irrelevant to the insurance-related claims that remain at issue in the case. 19 But see Redick v. Lowes Home Centers, LLC, No. 1:21-CV-00358-SAB, 2022 WL 3717996, at 20 *3 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 29, 2022) (“Under this general [standing] rule, plaintiff lacks standing to 21 object to the subpoena on grounds of relevance.”). 22 23 Defendant does not respond to Plaintiff’s standing argument; its reply brief does not use the word “standing” once. Nor does Defendant provide any argument addressing whether the 24 ORDER - 3 Case 3:22-cv-05462-JHC Document 28 Filed 11/17/22 Page 4 of 5 1 analysis differs for protective orders under Rule 26(c); in fact, Defendant presents no legal 2 argument in support of its alternative request for a protective order. 3 Given Defendant’s failure to advance any argument to support standing, the Court finds 4 that Defendant has conceded the issue, and that Defendant lacks standing to quash the subpoena 5 under Rule 45. See, e.g., Redick, 2022 WL 3717996, at *3 (denying the motion to quash because 6 “Defendant does not directly address Plaintiff's argument or standing at all. . . . The Court 7 considered offering Defendant an opportunity to submit supplemental briefing on this issue or to 8 address at the hearing, however, the Court finds Defendant had a full opportunity to address the 9 issue of standing in light of Plaintiff's argument raised.”); Kroeger v. Vertex Aerospace LLC, No. 10 CV 20-3030-JFW(AGRX), 2020 WL 3546086, at *8 (C.D. Cal. June 30, 2020) (collecting cases 11 in which a party’s failure to respond to an argument constitutes forfeiture of that argument). The 12 lack of argument is particularly consequential when, as here, a party challenges something as 13 fundamental as standing. 14 Defendant nevertheless insists that the subpoena is “void in exceeding subject matter 15 jurisdiction.” Dkt. # 25 at 2. Defendant appears to argue that because Plaintiff’s proposed 16 amendment to add an employment claim against USAA Employer would have deprived the 17 Court of subject matter jurisdiction, any subpoena seeking information related to such a claim is 18 void. In support, Defendant cites a Supreme Court case in which the Court stated that “Federal 19 Rule of Civil Procedure 45 grants a district court the power to issue subpoenas as to witnesses 20 and documents, but the subpoena power of a court cannot be more extensive than its 21 jurisdiction.” U.S. Cath. Conf. v. Abortion Rts. Mobilization, Inc., 487 U.S. 72, 76 (1988). But 22 in that case, the Supreme Court confronted a situation in which the district court lacked 23 jurisdiction over the action as a whole. See id. (“[I]f a district court does not have subject-matter 24 jurisdiction over the underlying action, . . . then the process is void.” (emphasis added)). Here, ORDER - 4 Case 3:22-cv-05462-JHC Document 28 Filed 11/17/22 Page 5 of 5 1 the Court maintains subject matter jurisdiction over the action: Because the Court denied 2 Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend to add an employment claim against USAA Employer, the 3 parties remain completely diverse, and the Court retains subject matter jurisdiction over the 4 action. 5 Finally, the Court notes that Lincoln National—as the recipient of the subpoena—would, 6 of course, have standing to challenge the relevancy of the discovery sought by the subpoena. If 7 Lincoln National moves to quash the subpoena, the Court will scrutinize the relevance of the 8 information sought to the remaining claims. 9 IV. 10 CONCLUSION 11 The Court DENIES Defendant’s motion. Dkt. # 19. 12 Dated this 17th day of November, 2022. 13 14 John H. Chun United States District Judge 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 ORDER - 5

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