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Nelson-Ricks Cheese Company, Inc. v. Lakeview Cheese Company LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 26, 2017

NELSON-RICKS CHEESE COMPANY, INC., an Idaho corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
LAKEVIEW CHEESE COMPANY, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID C. NYE U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Lakeview Cheese Company LLC's (Lakeview) Emergency Motion to Quash Subpoenas and to Issue Protective Order. Dkt. 47. Plaintiff Nelson Ricks Cheese Company, Inc. (NRCC), filed a response to the above Motion and simultaneously filed a Motion to Seal Document. Dkt. 50. Lakeview, in conjunction with its Reply to the above, also filed two Motions: a Motion to Extend Deadlines (Dkt. 54); and a Motion to Supplement Protective Order (Dkt. 55).

         Although the three motions filed with the various briefs are in their infancy, because these matters are time sensitive, the Court will address all motions as they are all part and parcel to the overall discovery controversy. These last two motions in particular place the Court in a bind because the Court must address them immediately, but in doing so, NRCC will not have a chance to respond. Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the motions without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS each motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit arises out of claims brought by NRCC that Lakeview infringed upon NRCC's registered “Nelson Ricks Creamery Company” trademark on their website. Plaintiff asserts various claims for relief, including trademark infringement. NRCC's requested relief is primarily monetary.

         The current motions revolve around 15 subpoenas that NRCC served on non-parties. On September 29, 2017, NRCC served Lakeview with notice that it had served subpoenas on 15 Lakeview customers seeking financial information related to Lakeview's sales to them over a five-year period. Lakeview contends that these subpoenas are duplicative of information NRCC has already requested from them and serve no legitimate purpose but to harass Lakeview and its customers. NRCC does not dispute that the information sought is duplicative, but contends the subpoenas are necessary as Lakeview has not adequately responded to NRCC's requests.

         Referenced in the briefing is certain information that reflects informal communications between the parties and the Court. While the general substance of those communications is irrelevant here, it is worth noting in particular one issue-at least for context-as it plays a large role in this decision.

         When the layers are pealed back on the motions currently pending, Lakeview's root concern is that Mike Greenberg, NRCC's CEO, may see this financial information and that as a competitor this would be improper. Further background reveals that NRCC has listed Mike Greenberg as a damages expert. Lakeview contends this is precisely why it did not want to turn over these financial documents in response to NRCC's Fifth Set of Document Requests, and why it now objects to customers complying with the subpoenas.

         In light of the lack of production, NRCC served the aforementioned subpoenas on Lakeview's customers. The customers must comply with the subpoenas by October 30, 2017. Lakeview filed the instant motion seeking to quash the subpoenas. Subsequent motions followed which deal with interrelated issues. The Court will address each in turn.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3) provides that a Court must quash or modify a subpoena that:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.

         Additionally, the Court may quash or modify a subpoena if ...


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