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Shaposhnik v. HP Enterprise Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan

April 23, 2018

YONA SHAPOSHNIK, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
HP ENTERPRISE SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL THE DEPOSITION OF MICHAEL NEFKENS (DOC. #52)

          VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs filed the above entitled motion. It is fully briefed.

         For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

         1. Plaintiffs assert that Michael Nefkens, the Executive Vice President and General Manager when Mr. Shaposhnik was employed with HP Enterprise Services, LLC (“HPES”), possesses knowledge of material facts pertaining to this case. By way of example, Plaintiffs cite to the deposition testimony of Alexander Leonard, HPES's Human Resources Director, who testified that Mr. Nefkens “knows quite a bit” about the business.

         Plaintiffs also point to an email sent by Mr. Nefkens concerning certain corporate policies, which Plaintiffs say are at the heart of their claims in this case. Nefkens wrote:

“HP Standards of Business Conduct (SBC) embodies the core principles and values that govern our conduct both within and outside the company. Taking this training annually renews our commitment to operating with the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct. It helps us refresh our understanding of HP's Standard of Business Conduct and supporting policies and provides each of us with the guidance and tools needed to win the right way.”
2. Plaintiffs say Mr. Nefkens is recognized as being:
“responsible for driving growth an innovation for Enterprise Services' applications, business processing and outsourcing services. He led successful customer IT transformations for some of HP's largest services accounts. Over a four-year period, Mr. Nefkens claims to have increased customer satisfaction to top of industry and drove record operating profit improvement for 14 consecutive quarters leading up to the spin-off from HPE and the merger with CSC.”

         They also cite a 2014 interview with Fortune Magazine, in which Mr. Nefkens stated:

“I'm trying to reinvent a business and an industry that has been around for about 50 years: the IT services sector. I'm 18 months in, and it's my big project. We always said it would take five years so I've got another good three years to reinvent this in terms of turning HP Enterprise Services into a market-leading business.”

         3. Plaintiffs assert that after 14 years as Enterprise Services' General Manager, Nefkens had specific knowledge about the nature of its business, products and services. They say it is Mr. Nefken's business unit that asserted claims on Mr. Shaposhnik's patents, implying that that business is related to the ‘926 and ‘937 patents.

         4. The Court agrees that Plaintiffs have made a sufficient showing that they are entitled to explore their allegations with a general manager who had some responsibility to reshape Enterprise Services as an information technology Company - as it spun off from HPES.

         5. On the other hand, HPES fails to demonstrate that Mr. Nefken is an “Apex” employee or that a protective order is justified.

         6. The Defendant fails to supply the Court with a detailed affidavit from Mr. Nefkens in support of its request for a protective order. Courts generally require an apex deponent to make a factual showing to overcome the presumption of broad discovery under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. See Mulvey v. Chrysler Corp., 106 F.R.D. 364, 366 ...


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