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Gonzalez Production Systems, Inc. v. Martinrea International Inc.

United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division

February 27, 2015

GONZALEZ PRODUCTION SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant,
v.
MARTINREA INTERNATIONAL INC., Defendant, MARTINREA HEAVY STAMPINGS INC., Defendant and Counter-Plaintiff.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING GONZALEZ’S MOTION REGARDING TRIAL WITNESSES [#153] WITHOUT PREJUDICE, AND GRANTING GONZALEZ’S MOTION OT QUASH MARTINREA’S DISCOVERY SUBPOENA TO LELAND BOREN [#154]

Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Gonzalez Production Systems, Inc. (“Gonzalez”), commenced this action on April 4, 2013 against Defendant Martinrea International Inc. (“Martinrea International”). See Dkt. No. 1. On May 17, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint adding Martinrea Heavy Stampings, Inc. (“Martinrea Stampings”) as an additional Defendant in this dispute. See Dkt. No. 8. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff contends that both Martinrea International and Martinrea Stampings (collectively “Martinrea” or “Defendants”) are liable for breach of contract, or, in the alternative, liable in equity under the theory of promissory estoppel. Id. On June 17, 2013, Defendant Martinrea Stampings filed a counterclaim against Gonzalez for breach of contract. See Dkt. No. 20. Discovery closed in this case on August 15, 2014.

Presently before the Court are two Motions filed by Gonzalez in January of 2015: a Motion Regarding Trial Witnesses [#153], and a Motion to Quash Martinrea’s Discovery Subpoena to Leland Boren [#154]. Gonzalez filed the present motions with the expectation that trial would take place on February 24, 2014. However, on January 26, 2015, the Court adjourned the trial date in order to prevent the exclusion of the Parties’ expert reports, and to quell any concerns of prejudice. See Gonzalez Prod. Sys., Inc. v. Martinrea Int'l, Inc., No. 13-CV-11544, 2015 WL 348710, at *5-7 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 26, 2015). On February 10, 2015, the Parties stipulated to adjourning the trial date to September 22, 2015. See Dkt. No. 161.

As a result of the trial’s adjournment, and after reviewing the briefing of both Parties, the Court finds that oral argument will not aid in the resolution of this matter. Accordingly, the Court will resolve the pending Motions on the briefs as submitted. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons discussed herein, the Court will DENY Gonzalez’s Motion Regarding Trial Witnesses WIHTOUT PREJUDICE in light of the new trial date for this case and an apparent agreement between the Parties. Additionally, the Court will GRANT Gonzalez’s Motion to Quash Martinrea’s Discovery Subpoena to Leland Boren because Martinrea has not demonstrated good cause to reopen discovery.

III. Law and Analysis

A. Legal Standard

“In civil cases, a party is entitled to call an adverse party or witness identified with him and interrogate by leading questions.” Fed.R.Evid. 611(c) advisory committee notes (1974); see also Chonich v. Wayne Cnty. Cmty. Coll., 874 F.2d 359, 368 (6th Cir. 1989) (noting that a district court’s decision to permit a party to call adverse witnesses during its case-in-chief “falls within the trial court’s sound discretion[.]”).

This Court has considerable discretion when conducting a trial. See, e.g., Howard v. Bd. of Educ. of Memphis City Sch., 70 F. App’x 272, 279 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Boyle v. Revici, 961 F.2d 1060, 1063 (8th Cir. 1992), which found no abuse of discretion in permitting witnesses to testify out of order). However, when it comes to witnesses that take part in a trial, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure place limits on the power this Court may exercise. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45 (outlining the federal courts’ subpoena power).

For example, Rule 45(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides a territorial limitation on this Court’s ability to subpoena a party or non-party to travel more than “100 miles from where that person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(3)(A)(ii).

Similarly, Rule 45(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure imposes a duty on an attorney or party invoking the Court's subpoena power to “take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena, ” and requires courts to enforce that duty through the imposition of “an appropriate sanction, ” including reasonable attorney fees. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(1). Upon a timely motion, the Court must quash a subpoena that “subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A)(iv).

Here, now that discovery is closed, the Parties focus on reopening discovery in order to allow a duces tecum deposition of a witness. Issues regarding the taking and use of depositions are entrusted to the sound discretion of the district court. Trempel v. Roadway, 194 F.3d 708 (6th Cir. 1999); Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co., Inc. v. Progress Bank, 67 Fed.Appx. 343, 346 (6th Cir. 2003). Likewise, “the decision to quash a pre-trial subpoena duces tecum ‘must necessarily be committed to the sound discretion of the trial court since the necessity for the subpoena most often turns upon a determination of factual issues.’” Ghandi v. Police Dep't of City of Detroit, 747 F.2d 338, 354 (6th Cir. 1984) (quoting United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 702, 94 S.Ct. 3090, 3104, 41 L.Ed.2d 1039 (1974)).

B. Legal Analysis

As previously mentioned there are two Motions presently pending before the Court. In the first Motion, Gonzalez seeks an Order from this Court requiring Martinrea to procure attendance of five of Martinrea’s current and former employees during Gonzalez’s case-in-chief. See Dkt. No. 153 at 8. Martinrea contends it never suggested that Gonzalez could not call adverse witnesses during Gonzalez’s case-in chief, but instead contends that it “merely advised Gonzalez’s counsel that none of the witnesses about which Gonzalez inquired live or work ...


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