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In re Epipen (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Marketing, Sales Practices and Antitrust Litigation

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 9, 2018

IN RE EpiPen (Epinephrine Injection, USP) Marketing, Sales Practices and Antitrust Litigation (This Document Applies to All Cases)


          Teresa J. James, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Non-Party Express Scripts Holding Company's Motion for Protective Order and to Modify Plaintiffs' Subpoena for 30(b)(6) Deposition (ECF No. 1136). Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 and 45, Express Scripts seeks an order (1) modifying the terms of a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition subpoena served by Class Plaintiffs, (2) requiring Class Plaintiffs to provide Express Scripts at least five business days in advance of the deposition any documents they intend to use at the deposition; and (3) requiring Class Plaintiffs to pay half of Express Scripts' reasonable expenses in responding to the deposition subpoena. Class Plaintiffs oppose the motion. As set forth below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Express Scripts' motion, and will modify the subpoena in one respect.

         I. Relevant Background

         The Court briefly summarizes the events leading to this motion. Class Plaintiffs first provided Express Scripts with proposed 30(b)(6) topics on August 17, 2018. The parties met and conferred on September 4, September 18, and October 3, and corresponded on various other dates. While they were able to resolve some of Express Scripts' objections to the list of topics, others remain. Based on the parties' efforts, the Court finds they have complied with the requirements of D. Kan. R. 37.2.

         II. Summary of the Parties' Arguments

         Express Scripts asserts six of the topics Class Plaintiffs include in their 30(b)(6) deposition notice are overbroad, and they contend Class Plaintiffs are obligated by this court's Deposition Guidelines to provide advance copies of lengthy or numerous documents the witness may be asked to review. Express Scripts also wants Class Plaintiffs to share in the costs of responding to the subpoena.

         Class Plaintiffs contend their topics are clear, unambiguous, and narrowly tailored, and fall within topics the Court already has found relevant in this action. They further contend they are under no obligation to provide Express Scripts with copies of documents they may use in the deposition, nor should they be required to pay any share of Express Scripts' cost of compliance.

         III. Legal Standard

         Express Scripts invokes the “undue burden” language contained in both Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) regarding a protective order, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(d) with respect to modifying the deposition subpoena, but suggests no legal standard to apply under either rule. While Rule 45 provides the authority to quash or modify a deposition subpoena, [1]most of the relief Express Scripts seeks is available under Rule 26(c).[2]

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), a “court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense[.]”[3] The decision to enter a protective order is within the court's broad discretion.[4]Despite this broad discretion, “a protective order is only warranted when the movant demonstrates that protection is necessary under a specific category set out in Rule 26(c).”[5] In addition, the party seeking a protective order bears the burden of establishing good cause.[6] The moving party must make “a particular and specific demonstration of fact, as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements.”[7] If in its discretion the court determines a protective order is warranted, the court has substantial latitude to devise an appropriate order after fairly weighing the parties' competing needs and interests.[8]

         IV. Analysis

         Express Scripts argues that six of the deposition topics are overbroad and preparing a witness to testify about them would cause undue burden; that Class Plaintiffs must provide in advance documents they may use at the deposition; and that Class Plaintiffs should bear one-half the cost of Express Scripts' compliance. The Court considers each in turn.

         A. Topics

         1. Formulary Coverage Decisions

         Express Scripts urges the Court to modify Topic Nos. 3-5, all of which focus on its formulary coverage decisions, by limiting the scope of the topics to issues related to its National Preferred Formulary. As Express Scripts describes it, the National Preferred Formulary is one it developed for its clients' use, as opposed to custom formularies that its clients develop and customize for themselves. Express Scripts complains it cannot feasibly prepare a witness to testify about hundreds of different custom formularies developed over multiple years by hundreds of third parties, but acknowledges it is able to produce a witness prepared to discuss the National Preferred Formulary. Class Plaintiffs respond by pointing out that in its ruling regarding these parties' dispute over a document subpoena, the Court found the issue of formulary placement relevant and discoverable without limiting it to a National Preferred Formulary. In addition, Class Plaintiffs have clarified that for these topics, they are seeking information relating to EAI devices.[9]

         In support of its request and through an affidavit from in-house counsel, Express Scripts states that it currently has approximately 221 active custom formularies.[10] The affidavit references a declaration Express Scripts earlier submitted as containing a “comprehensive overview of formulary development at Express Scripts [that] is provided by the white paper” attached to the declaration.[11] The declaration states that each year Express Scripts publishes its National Preferred Formulary developed through using a four-step process involving the work of three committees.[12] The white paper offered as providing a comprehensive overview largely discusses Express Scripts' development of its “variety of standard formulas” (with no mention of a National Preferred Formulary), from which “[p]lan sponsors, based on their own unique situation, can select a formulary that is most appropriate for their members.”[13] The paper further describes how Express Scripts plan sponsors manage their formularies: “Express Scripts' plan sponsors often adopt Express Scripts-developed formularies as their own or use them as the foundation for their own custom formularies.”[14] The paper goes on to describe a spectrum of formulary control levels from an “open” formulary at one end, where the plan sponsor pays a portion of the cost for all drugs regardless of formulary status, to a “closed” formulary at the other end where non-formulary drugs are not covered unless approved.[15]

         With respect to the burden Express Scripts would suffer if custom formularies are within the scope of Topic Nos. 3-5, the affidavit states only that “the requisite preparation will need to be even more extensive, and the corresponding preparation costs greater as well.”[16]

         Express Scripts has not provided sufficient facts to support a finding that it would suffer undue burden by complying with the subpoena as written for Topic Nos. 3-5. Not only is the support for what burden it would suffer insufficient, but neither does the description of its formulary development explain why it cannot offer testimony on the formulary coverage decision issues sought in those topics. Class Plaintiffs ask only for the internal deliberative process Express Scripts employs (Topic No. 3), the factors Express Scripts considers (Topic No.4), and Express Scripts' own formulary coverage decisions (Topic No. 5). While the Court understands that plan sponsors can select and adapt a formulary to fit their own needs, Express Scripts has offered no evidence to distinguish between the internal deliberative process it uses for its National Preferred Formulary and custom formularies. Accordingly, the Court denies the motion insofar as it seeks to modify Topic Nos. 3 -5 regarding Express Scripts' formulary coverage decisions relating to EAI devices.

         2. Outside of ...

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