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Dickinson Frozen Foods, Inc. v. FPS Food Process Solutions Corp.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 5, 2018

DICKINSON FROZEN FOODS, INC., Plaintiff/Counterdefendant,
v.
FPS FOOD PROCESS SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, Defendant/Counterclaimant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye, U.S. District Court Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant/Counterclaimant FPS Food Process Solutions Corporation's (“FPS”) Motion for Protective Order. Dkt. 22. Having reviewed the record herein, the Court finds the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record. 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 decides the Motion without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT the Motion.[1]

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         As the Court noted in its previous decision, the underlying facts of this case are relatively simple. Dickinson purchased an Individual Quick Freeze tunnel freezer machine (the “Freezer”) from FPS in 2016 for its processing plant in Sugar City, Idaho. After installation, complications arose with the Freezer. Dickinson alleges that FPS is liable for lost profits and damages because the Freezer failed to perform to contract specifications. For its part, FPS has filed a counterclaim against Dickinson alleging that it was in fact Dickinson, not FPS, who failed to perform its obligations under the contract and that the Freezer would have worked but for Dickinson's failures.

         B. Procedural Background

         On March 21, 2018, Dickinson served its First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents on FPS. Some of Dickinson's requests captured documents FPS believes are sensitive or confidential. Counsel for both parties discussed the possibility of a protective order, however, they were ultimately unable to reach a consensus. The instant motion followed.

         Under Federal Rule of Procedure 26, FPS seeks a protective order from the Court to shield certain information from public disclosure. Broadly speaking, the material FPS seeks to protect includes sensitive business information and proprietary research and schematics. FPS has produced some 5, 800 documents in response to Dickinson's requests, [2] and withheld approximately 800 documents pending the Court's determination today. To be clear, FPS plans to turn over all of the documents in question, it simply seeks an order limiting the disclosure to a limited group of individuals.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 states that, in general, any matter relevant to a claim or defense is discoverable. “Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b).

         “[P]re-trial discovery is ordinarily ‘accorded a broad and liberal treatment, '” because “wide access to relevant facts serves the integrity and fairness of the judicial process by promoting the search for the truth.” Shoen v. Shoen, 5 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947)). “Under Rule 26, however, ‘[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.'” In re Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, 661 F.3d 417, 424 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)). “The party opposing disclosure has the burden of proving ‘good cause,' which requires a showing ‘that specific prejudice or harm will result' if the protective order is not granted.” Id. (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2003)).

         If the Court determines that good causes exists, it can, in its discretion, “forbid[] . . . disclosure or discovery”; “limit[] the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain matters”; and/or require that a “trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(A), (D), (G).

         IV. ...


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