United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
FCA U.S. LLC, Plaintiff,
PATREA BULLOCK, Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DKT. 74)
A. GOLDSMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 18, 2019, this Court entered an opinion and order
granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff FCA U.S.
LLC's (“FCA”) motion to compel (Dkt. 71). FCA
timely filed a motion for reconsideration (Dkt. 74). For the
reasons set forth below, FCA's motion is denied.
alleges that Defendant Patrea Bullock, an attorney formerly
working for Gates, O'Doherty, Gonter & Guy LLP
(“GOGG”), took confidential client information
regarding FCA, misappropriated trade secrets, and breached
both a contract and her fiduciary duty. FCA filed a motion to
compel Bullock to, inter alia, produce her personal
computer and cell phone for imaging (Dkt. 53). This Court
denied that motion in part and granted it in part, finding
that ordering imaging of Bullock's personal devices was
not proportional to the needs of the case, as required by
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(2)(C). FCA U.S. LLC
v. Bullock, 329 F.R.D. 563, 569 (E.D. Mich. 2019). FCA
now asks the Court to reconsider its order.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
for reconsideration may be granted when the moving party
shows: (i) a palpable defect; (ii) by which the court and the
parties were misled; and (iii) the correction of which will
result in a different disposition of the case. E.D. Mich.
L.R. 7.1(h)(3). A “palpable defect” is a
“defect which is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest
or plain.” Olson v. The Home Depot, 321
F.Supp.2d 872, 874 (E.D. Mich. 2004). The “palpable
defect” standard is consistent with the standard for
amending or altering a judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).
Henderson v. Walled Lake Consol. Schs., 469 F.3d
479, 496 (6th Cir. 2006).
raises three reasons why this Court should reconsider its
January 18, 2019 opinion. First, FCA argues that the Court
erred by ordering Bullock to produce documents in her
possession that Bullock had previously denied were in her
possession. Pl. Mot. at 2. Bullock had claimed that she could
not access deleted files and, therefore, had not produced
them. Bullock, 329 F.R.D. at 569 (citing
Bullock's response to FCA's request for production).
The Court ruled that these documents were discoverable and
therefore, “to the extent that Bullock has deleted
files in her possession that are non-privileged and
responsive to FCA's discovery requests, she must produce
those files.” Id. FCA argues that this was
error because it does not require Bullock to identify which
FCA documents she actually took, and “FCA is entitled
to know which documents she took.” Pl. Mot. at 6-7.
Court ordered Bullock to retain an independent computer
specialist if she was unable to access the deleted files
herself. Bullock, 329 F.R.D. at 569. Bullock did so,
and the computer specialist was able to produce copies of the
deleted files found on Bullock's computer. Def. Resp. to
Mot. for Recon. at 6 (Dkt. 78). After reviewing these
documents, it became apparent that the deleted files had
already been produced. Id. Bullock has, therefore,
handed over all documents in her possession and has
repeatedly stated that she does not have any further
documents. The Court fails to see how this ruling constitutes
palpable error. As discussed in the January 18, 2019 opinion
and discussed further below, the Court does not find that an
imaging is warranted. The Court's ruling ensured that FCA
now has access to any and all documents in Bullock's
custody and control.
FCA argues that the Court erred in characterizing FCA's
need for imaging as solely to ensure that Bullock is not
intentionally failing to produce documents. FCA argues that
it is entitled to an imaging to support its claims, and
claims that it was error for this Court to find that
“FCA needed to establish that [Bullock] had been
dishonest in responding to discovery before imaging is
warranted.” Pl. Mot. at 7.
Court made no such finding and did not require FCA to
establish dishonesty. The Court observed that other courts
had found imaging warranted when a party had been less than
forthcoming about what documents were in its possession.
Bullock, 329 F.R.D. at 567-568 (citing Ameriwood
Indus., Inc. v. Liberman, No. 06-524, 2006 WL 3825291
(E.D. Mo. Dec. 27, 2006), and Balboa Threadworks, Inc. v.
Stucky, No. 05-1157, 2006 WL 763668 (D. Kan. Mar. 24,
2006)). The Court considered this, along with the nature of
FCA's claims and Bullock's interest in protecting her
private, personal information, in concluding that FCA's
request to image Bullock's personal devices was not
proportional to the needs of the case. The Court agreed with
FCA that its claims relate to the documents Bullock took on
her computer. Bullock, 329 F.R.D. at 568 (“The
information that Bullock has on her computer is certainly
important to FCA's claims in this litigation.”).
But such an invasion of Bullock's privacy is simply not
warranted, as explained in the Court's opinion -
particularly when Bullock had already handed over all
documents that she was able to and, now, has handed over all
FCA argues that the Court erred because, although evidence of
Bullock's dishonesty is not required to warrant an order
for imaging, there is substantial evidence of her dishonesty.
Pl. Mot. at 14. FCA argues that Bullock (i) breached the
Trial School Confidentiality Agreement, by using FCA's
confidential and proprietary information to solicit clients
and sue FCA; (ii) took documents from GOGG on her last day of
work by loading them onto USBs; (iii) destroyed the USBs
within ten days of doing so; and (iv) launched her own law
firm where she took on clients to sue FCA. Pl. Mot. at 14-15.
repeatedly set forth its allegations against Bullock. The
Court is aware that she transferred files from her GOGG
computer and that she claims to no longer have access to the
USB drives. The Court is also aware that Bullock has
repeatedly stated that she has handed over all documents to
FCA that she does have, and that she did not share
any of FCA's documents with third parties.
claims that Bullock “denied having taken any FCA files,
but then she produced some.” Pl. Mot. at 15. However,
FCA does not point to where Bullock denied having taken the
files. It is true that she has denied
“misappropriating” files. See, e.g.,
Def. Ans. at 11-12 (Dkt. 46) (denying that “[t]o
FCA's detriment, Bullock misappropriated from FCA U.S.
its confidential and proprietary client information to
benefit plaintiffs in warranty litigation against FCA
US.”). But such a denial is a denial of wrongful taking
or use, not a denial of the fact that documents were taken;
indeed, Bullock admitted she did take documents. See
id. at 11 (“Defendant denies she has wrongfully
used any of FCA US's ...