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Teasel v. Laskowski

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

January 23, 2018

ALLAN TEASEL, Plaintiff,
v.
ROSE LASKOWSKI, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTIONS TO ENFORCE SUBPOENA, DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA, DIRECTING PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS, SETTING DEADLINE FOR OBJECTIONS, SCHEDULING STATUS CONFERENCE, AND DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.

         On March 28, 2017, Plaintiff Allan Teasel, a patient at a mental health institution initiated this case on his behalf and on behalf of other similarly situated patients. His complaint alleges that the State of Michigan and the Department of Health and Human Services have violated his substantive due process rights by forcing his caregivers to work excessive overtime. Compl., ECF No. 1. On July 17, 2017, Teasel filed an amended complaint which names Rose Laskowski, the director of the mental health institution housing Teasel, as the only Defendant. Am. Compl., ECF No. 30. Several days after filing the amended complaint, Teasel filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. ECF No. 32. On August 25, 2017, Lawskowski filed a motion to dismiss the suit for lack of standing. ECF No. 43. A hearing on the two motions was held on November 7, 2017. On December 15, 2017, the Court issued an opinion and order denying the motion to dismiss and directing attention to certain issues at the next hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction. ECF No. 60.

         On January 3, 2018, Teasel filed two apparently identical emergency motions to enforce a subpoena. ECF Nos. 62, 63. The subpoena at issue was broadly focused on information relevant to the issues the Court had identified in its December 15, 2017, opinion and order. On January 19, 2018, Teasel filed a motion to quash a subpoena issued by Defendant. ECF No. 67. In that subpoena, Defendant seeks documents retained by Ms. Judd and Ms. Goyette, two individuals who provided affidavits to Teasel which support allegations made in the complaint.

         On January 22, 2018, the Court held a second hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction. Discussion on the record quickly centered on the ongoing discovery disputes, and Teasel acknowledged that additional disclosures were required before he could complete his proofs regarding the requested preliminary injunction. After a short recess, the parties and Court conducted an informal status conference to address the pending discovery motions. This order is meant to formalize the understandings reached in that status conference.

         I.

         The Court summarized Teasel's factual allegations in the December 15, 2017, opinion and order. That summary will be adopted in full.

         II.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(d)(1) provides that “[a] party may not seek discovery from any source before the parties have conferred as required by Rule 26(f), except . . . when authorized by these rules, by stipulation, or by court order.” Teasel seeks a court order authorizing early discovery. In reviewing such requests, courts typically impose a “good cause standard.” 8A Charles Alan Wright and Arthur R. Miller, 1993 Discovery Moratorium Pending Discovery Plan, Fed. Prac. & Proc. Juris. § 2046.1 (4d ed.). Several decisions within the Sixth Circuit provide some guidance. In In re Paradise Valley Holdings, Inc., the bankruptcy court explained that “‘[g]ood cause may be found where the plaintiff's need for expedited discovery outweighs the possible prejudice or hardship to the defendant.'” No. 03-34704, 2005 WL 3841866, at *2 (Bankr. E.D.

         Tenn. Dec. 29, 2005) (quoting Metal Bldg. Components, LP v. Caperton, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28854, at *10 (D.N.M. Apr. 2, 2004)). Further, “[g]ood cause is usually found in cases involving requests for injunctive relief, challenges to personal jurisdiction, class actions, and claims of infringement and unfair competition.” Id. The Paradise Valley Holdings opinion also emphasizes that Rule 26(d) “‘protects defendants from unwarily incriminating themselves before they have a chance to review the facts of the case and to retain counsel. This important protection maintains the fairness of civil litigation.'” Id. (quoting Notaro v. Koch, 95 F.R.D. 403, 405 (S.D.N.Y.1982)). See also USEC Inc. v. Everitt, No. 3:09-CV-4, 2009 WL 152479, at *3 (E.D. Tenn. Jan. 22, 2009) (adopting the analysis in Paradise Valley Holdings); Whitfield v. Hochsheid, No. C-1-02-218, 2002 WL 1560267, at *1 (S.D. Ohio July 2, 2002) (imposing a good cause standard).

         Other district courts have also identified certain relevant factors. In Yokohama Tire Corp. v. Dealers Tire Supply, Inc., the district court specified four factors:

(1) irreparable injury, (2) some probability of success on the merits, (3) some connection between expedited discovery and the avoidance of the irreparable injury, and (4) some evidence that the injury that will result without expedited discovery looms greater than the injury that the defendant will suffer if the expedited relief is granted.

202 F.R.D. 612, 613 (D. Ariz. 2001) (quoting Notaro and noting that Notaro borrowed the test for granting a preliminary injunction and applied it to a request for expedited discovery).

         Similarly, in Meritain Health Inc. v. Express Scripts, Inc., the district court enumerated a different five factors that have relevance:

(1) whether a preliminary injunction is pending; (2) the breadth of the discovery requests; (3) the purpose for requesting the expedited discovery; (4) the burden on the defendants to comply with the requests; and (5) how far in ...

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