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Harbord v. Home Depot U.S.A. Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 24, 2017

DERRICK HARBORD, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
HOME DEPOT U.S.A. Inc. d.b.a. The Home Depot, a Delaware corporation, Defendant.

          Steven C. Burke, Case & Dusterhoff, LLP, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Elizabeth A. Falcone and Kelly S. Riggs, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC. Of Attorneys for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Derrick Harbord worked as an employee for Defendant Home Depot U.S.C., Inc. from December 2013 through August 2015. Plaintiff's job title was “Asset Protection Specialist.” Plaintiff alleges that in May 2015, he filed a written complaint with Defendant regarding the sexual harassment of Plaintiff's female co-employees. According to Plaintiff, Defendant took no corrective action, and Defendant began to treat Plaintiff differently. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant falsely reprimanded Plaintiff for violating company policy regarding the use of force against a suspected shoplifter. Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment in August 2015. Based on these allegations, Plaintiff sued Defendant in state court, asserting two counts of unlawful termination based on Plaintiff's good faith complaint of sexual harassment of co-employees and whistleblowing, in violation of Oregon law. Defendant timely removed the action to federal court. Plaintiff moves to quash Defendant's third-party subpoenas issued to Plaintiff's former employers and others (ECF 12) and for a protective order (ECF 14) limiting Defendant's 106 separate requests for production of documents served on Plaintiff.

         STANDARDS

         Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part:

Parties 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, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure promote a “broad and liberal” policy of discovery. Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). The right to discovery, however, is not unlimited. A court must limit the extent of otherwise allowable discovery if “the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i).

         In addition, Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that these rules “should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding” (emphasis added). The advisory committee note to the 2015 Amendment, which added the italicized text, explains:

Most lawyers and parties cooperate to achieve these ends. But discussions of ways to improve the administration of civil justice regularly include pleas to discourage over-use, misuse, and abuse of procedural tools that increase cost and result in delay. Effective advocacy is consistent with - and indeed depends upon - cooperative and proportional use of procedure.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 1 advisory committee's note to 2015 amendment.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Quash

         Plaintiff moves to quash three subpoenas issued to third parties. ECF 12. Defendant issued two subpoenas to former employers of Plaintiff and a third subpoena to a business with which Plaintiff previously was affiliated. Plaintiff argues that the three third-party subpoenas seek documents that are neither relevant nor likely to lead to relevant or admissible evidence. According to Plaintiff, nothing sought by the subpoenas would tend to prove or disprove any issue in this case. Defendant responds that the admissibility of Plaintiff's prior employment records is not the appropriate standard and that those records (including ...


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