United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER EXTENDING DEADLINES, GRANTING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER, AND
ORDERING FURTHER BRIEFING
H. CLELAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
not the first time these parties have been before the court.
In July 2015, Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendant Zoom
TV Products ("Zoom TV") for patent infringement and
breach of contract. See Wesley Corp. v. Zoom TV
Prods., No. 15-12449 (Cleland, J.). The parties settled
that case on July 22, 2016. (See Settlement Agreement Dkt.
#1-1 Pg. ID 12.) The court entered a stipulated order of
dismissal about a month later. See Wesley Corp., No.
15-12449, Dkt. #30.
Defendant Zoom TV and its marketing affiliate, Defendant
Ideavillage Products Corporation ("Ideavillage"),
have allegedly breached the settlement agreement. (See Dkt.
#1.) They have also-along with ten John Doe Defendants-
allegedly infringed on Plaintiffs' federally-registered
trademark and patents since the effective date of the
settlement. (Id.) Though a scheduling order was
entered in this action in June, the parties have now-over
five months later-brought rudimentary discovery disputes to
the court. Presently before the court are three motions: a
motion for protective order filed by Defendants (Dkt. #36)
and two motions to compel filed by Plaintiffs (Dkt. ##41,
42). Plaintiffs responded to Defendants' motion for a
protective order. (Dkt. #39.) The court held a hearing on
December 12, 2017. For the following reasons, the court will
extend the deadlines in this case, limit the applicable
discovery period, and order further submission from
scope of discovery is within the sound discretion of the
court. Anwar v. Dow Chem. Co., 876 F.3d 841, 854
(6th Cir. 2017); Surles v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.,
474 F.3d 288, 305 (6th Cir. 2007). Unless the court limits
discovery, "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any
nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's
claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the
case." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).
the court's powers to regulate discovery is the authority
to "issue an order to protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense" for good cause shown by the moving party.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). "[T]o justify a
protective order, one of Rule 26(c)(1)'s enumerated harms
must be illustrated with a particular and specific
demonstration of fact, as distinguished from stereotyped and
conclusory statements." Serrano v. Cintas
Corp., 699 F.3d 884, 901 (6th Cir. 2012). The party
requesting a protective order must, therefore, point to facts
showing that some discovery would cause annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense
sufficient to justify entry of a protective order.
ask for a protective order limiting discovery to the time
after the settlement agreement took effect. According to
Defendants, any information or documents from before the
settlement agreement would be irrelevant. They also ask that
Plaintiffs' counsel follow the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and the Local Rules when setting depositions. (Dkt.
#36.) Plaintiffs, in response, argue that they are entitled
to discovery covering at least some time period before the
settlement agreement and propose a little over seven
months' worth, as they request discovery dating back to
January 1, 2016. (Dkt. #39 Pg. ID 205-06.) They also argue
that they properly noticed the depositions of which
Defendants complain, and they point out that Defendants
failed to attach to their motion the allegedly noncompliant
on the other hand, request an order compelling Defendants to
produce documents in response to Plaintiffs' requests
(Dkt. #42) and an order compelling Defendants to amend their
interrogatory responses (Dkt. #41). To date, Defendants have
not produced a single document. Instead, Defendants repeat
the same objection to nearly every request for production.
(See Dkt. ##42-1, 42-2.) Defendants also repeat the
same objection to nearly every interrogatory. (See Dkt.
also ask the court to order Defendants to verify their
interrogatory answers and verify, as to their document
production, "that a diligent search has been made by the
custodians for responsive documents and ESI." (Dkt. #42
Pg. ID 365.) Plaintiffs request that this latter verification
include "the date of such search; the name and address
of such custodian; [and a statement that] the ESI search was
made in accordance with best practices for each repository[,
] including cell phones." (Id.) Defendants did
not respond in briefing to these motions. At the hearing,
Defendants represented that they had no responsive documents
and that the appropriate verifications had been sent to
court addresses each of these requests in turn.
assert that they should not have to respond to discovery
requests relating to a time before the court's entry of
dismissal in the prior case. Anything prior to the entry of
that dismissal, according to Defendants, would be irrelevant
because Plaintiffs only seek relief "for activities of
Defendants subsequent to the prior case." (Dkt. #36 Pg.
ID 193.) Defendants argue that discovery should be limited to
the period after the court's entry of dismissal in August
2016. It is a minor detail, but nonetheless unclear why that
date would be identified and not the date of the settlement
agreement, July 22. In any event, the court agrees with
Plaintiffs that such a limitation is not warranted in this
have not, in their one page argument, offered a
"specific demonstration of fact" that discovery of
information prior to the settlement agreement would cause
"annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden
or expense." Information and documents dating before the
settlement agreement are not, as Defendants would have it,
inherently irrelevant. It is entirely plausible that
discovery sought by Plaintiffs could provide necessary or
helpful context to the settlement, or could demonstrate that
Defendants never intended to abide by the settlement
agreement at all. The court will not speculate on as-yet