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Fieldturf USA, Inc. v. Astroturf, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 21, 2015

FIELDTURF USA, INC., a Florida corporation; FIELDTURF TARKETT, INC., a Canadian corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
ASTROTURF, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF DISCOVERY MASTER RE DISPOSITION OF DISCOVERY MOTIONS

STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III, District Judge.

These five discovery motions were referred by the Court to the Special Master for a report and recommendation regarding their disposition. A hearing on the motions was conducted on March 20, 2015. Having considered the points and authorities advanced in the briefing, and the arguments of counsel, the Special Master makes the following report and recommendation.

Background

In June 2010, Plaintiffs FieldTurf Tarkett, Inc. and FieldTurf USA, Inc. (collectively "FieldTurf") filed their complaint alleging that Defendant AstroTurf, LLC ("AstroTurf") has infringed one of its patents, U.S. Patent No. 6, 723, 412 ("the '412 patent"). AstroTurf counterclaimed, seeking declarations of non-infringement and of patent invalidity and unenforceability, and asserted its own false advertising claims against FieldTurf.

The parties engaged in extensive fact discovery. Fact discovery closed on May 3, 2013, except for two discrete issues. (D.I. 213.) First, the parties agreed in November 2012 to postpone financially sensitive fact discovery that was relevant to possible damages claims until the Court ruled on summary judgment. Second, just after the close of fact discovery FieldTurf filed its Third Motion to Compel the production of infringement-related discovery and it was at least possible that additional discovery would ensue if the Court granted that motion. (D.I. 219.)

The parties also briefed cross motions for summary judgment. The summary judgment phase of the case ended on September 29, 2014 with the Court's denial of AstroTurf's motion for reconsideration. (D.I. 250.) The Court also granted-in-part FieldTurf's Third Motion to Compel on September 16, ordering AstroTurf to produce certain documents, which it did in December 2014. (D.I. 248.)

In January 2015, the Court entered an order appointing the Special Master to resolve various discovery disputes outstanding in late 2014 and early 2015. (D.I. 266.) In particular, the Court tasked the Special Master with resolving several discovery motions that had been filed, along with other discovery disputes that would arise. Among the disputes to be addressed by the Discovery Master were issues raised in the following:

1. FieldTurf's motion for a protective order requesting that the Court order that FieldTurf not be required to answer 1, 303 requests to admit propounded by AstroTurf;
2. AstroTurf's motion to compel "source documents" related to a spreadsheet FieldTurf produced in 2011;
3. AstroTurf's motion for sanctions relating to alleged withholding of certain documents;
4. FieldTurf and John Rodgers' motion seeking to quash AstroTurf's subpoena;
5. FieldTurf's request to compel testimony regarding AstroTurf's attempts to design around the 412 patent.

The Special Master held a hearing on these issues from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm on March 20, 2015.

Prior Orders

In considering the pending motions, the Discovery Master has the benefit of a number of rulings the Court already made in this case, which provide guidance regarding certain issues, including the Court's June 13, 2013 ...


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