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Kuennen v. Wright Medical Technology, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

February 25, 2015

WRIGHT MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant.


JON STUART SCOLES, Chief Magistrate Judge.

On the 2nd day of February 2015, this matter came on for telephonic hearing on the Motions for Protective Order (docket numbers 23 and 26), filed by Defendant Wright Medical Technology, Inc. on January 7, 2015 and January 16, respectively. The Plaintiffs were represented by their attorneys Michael J. Blakely, Jr., and N. Kirkland Pope. The Defendant was represented by its attorneys Gregory M. Lederer, Megan R. Dimitt, and Michael O. Fawaz.


On July 10, 2014, Plaintiff Martin P. Kuennen, and his wife, Carol Kuennen, brought this action seeking damages for injuries sustained to Kuennen when a hip replacement device manufactured by Defendant failed. On August 6, Defendant Wright Medical Technology, Inc. filed an answer, denying the material allegations.[1]

On September 23, 2014, the Court adopted a proposed Scheduling Order and Discovery Plan submitted by the parties. Among other things, the parties agreed to an April 6, 2015 deadline for completion of discovery. In reliance on the deadlines agreed to by the parties, this matter has been set for trial before Chief Judge Linda R. Reade beginning on October 26, 2015. At the parties' request, the discovery deadline was later extended to May 6, 2015.


The attorneys representing the parties in this case also represented the parties in John T. and Kathy A. Dulle v. Wright Medical Technology, Inc., 1:14-cv-00045 (N.D. Iowa). The parties stipulated that discovery produced in one case could be used in the other. Defendant initially filed two motions for protective orders in Dulle, but that case settled before the motions were addressed by the Court. Accordingly, the motions have been refiled in the instant action.

On August 19, 2014, the plaintiffs in Dulle served Defendant with their first set of interrogatories, first set of requests for production of documents, and a RULE 30(b)(6) notice for deposition. See Plaintiffs' Appendix (docket number 24-1), at 50-110. The notice identifies 47 topics, divided into 11 areas. Defendant responded in a letter on September 19, indicating that Brian McDaniel would be made available as a RULE 30(b)(6) witness on October 14. Defendant also objected, however, to the nature and scope of the topics identified by plaintiffs in their notice. Id. at 1-6. Plaintiffs replied on October 2, contesting the numerous objections made by Defendant. Id. at 11-15. Defendant repeated its objections, at length, in a letter dated October 7. Id. at 16-28.

After discussing the matter further on October 8, and believing they had reached "some common ground, " the parties proceeded with the deposition of McDaniel on October 14. Id. at 29. Unfortunately, it became apparent at the deposition that the parties had not reached an agreement regarding the scope of the RULE 30(b)(6) deposition. After the Dulle case was settled, Defendant filed the instant motions seeking a judicial determination on the legitimate scope of discovery.[2]


A. Applicable Law

The familiar standard governing the scope of discovery generally is found in FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 26(b)(1): "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." In a discovery context, relevancy "has been construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). See also Davis v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., 2008 WL 3992761 (E.D. Ark.) at *2 ("a request for discovery should be considered relevant if there is any possibility' that the information sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of any party."); Moses v. Halstead, 236 F.R.D. 667, 671 (D. Kan. 2006) (same).

"Discovery Rules are to be broadly and liberally construed in order to fulfill discovery's purposes of providing both parties with information essential to the proper litigation of all relevant facts, to eliminate surprise, and to promote settlement.'" Rollscreen Co. v. Pella Products, 145 F.R.D. 92, 94 (S.D. Iowa 1992). While the standard to be applied is one of liberality, however, "relevancy under Rule 26 is not without bounds." Bredemus v. International Paper Co., 252 F.R.D. 529, 533 (D. Minn. 2008). See also Oppenheimer Fund, 437 U.S. at 351 ("At the same time, discovery, like all matters of procedure, has ultimate and necessary boundaries.'") (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947)).

Generally, the party resisting production of the requested information bears the burden of establishing lack of relevancy. St. Paul Reinsurance Co., Ltd. v. Commercial ...

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