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Butcher v. Teamsters Local 955

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 29, 2019

JEREMY BUTCHER, JEREMY BUTCHER, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
TEAMSTERS LOCAL 955 and JOHN DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENAS DUCES TECUM

          KENNETH G. GALE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Currently pending before the Court is Motion to Quash Subpoenas filed by third-parties Distribution Services of America, Inc. and Distribution Consultants, Inc. (Doc. 28). After review of the motion and relevant filings, the Court GRANTS the Motion to Quash (Doc. 28).

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs purchased from Bimbo Bakeries (“Bimbo”) the right to sell and distribute bakery products of Bimbo Bakeries and its affiliates through a particular “Sales Area.” This resulted in Plaintiffs entering into a Distribution Agreement with Bimbo and becoming an Independent Operator (“IO”). Plaintiffs allege that at some point Bimbo Bakeries undertook efforts to purchase back Distribution Routes from IOs, including Plaintiffs. (See Doc. 1, at 7.) Plaintiffs describe this effort by Bimbo as “improper.” (Id.) According to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Plaintiffs were unwilling to sell their distribution rights. (Id.)

         Plaintiffs allege that in 2017, “Bimbo undertook negotiations with [Defendant] to establish a new pay schedule for its drivers to take over the Routes owned by the Plaintiffs and other independent Route owners in the Kansas City metropolitan area.” (Id., at 5.) Plaintiffs allege that by doing so, Defendant has “undertaken to service Plaintiffs' route and appropriate for themselves the customer contacts that Plaintiffs have developed.” (Id., at 7-8.)

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant and its drivers who have taken over Plaintiffs' Route “have conspired and agreed with each other and with Bimbo to commit the foregoing torts and have each taken affirmative steps to implement such agreement and conspiracy.” (Id., at 8.) Defendant contends, however, that “the real dispute at issue is a breach of contract action between Plaintiffs and Bimbo Bakeries.” (Doc. 15, at 6.) Referring to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Defendant notes that Plaintiffs allege Bimbo “breached the Distribution Agreement” with Plaintiffs and Bimbo “wrongfully assigned [Defendant's] employees and/or other personnel to service Plaintiffs' Route and furnished said employees and personnel with the tools, marks, and other trade necessities to take over the Plaintiffs' Route.” (Doc. 1, at 28-29.) The Court notes that Bimbo is not a party to this action. (See generally, id.)

         Plaintiffs served subpoenas on the third-parties on May 6, 2019, requesting the production of three categories of documents as well as the deposition of representatives of the third parties relating to then topics. (Docs. 26, 27.) The parties were able to resolve most of their disagreements regarding the subpoenas, but two categories of documents remain at issue. Category 2 of Plaintiffs' subpoena seeks “[a]ll non-privileged documents consisting of and/or relating to any communication between DCI [and DSA] and any Bimbo-affiliated entity relating to any retention by a Bimbo-related person and/or entity of DSA to render advice to and/or provide services for any Bimbo-related person or entity and/or for any IO selling and/or delivering bakery products for any Bimbo-related entity.” (Doc. 28, at 2.) Category 3 seeks “[a]ll non-privileged documents consisting of and/or relating to any retention of DSA [and DCI] by any Bimbo-affiliated entity and/or by the Plaintiff herein.” (Doc. 28, at 2.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standard.

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) states that

[p]arties 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 state 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.

         As such, the requested information must be nonprivileged, relevant, and proportional to the needs of the case to be discoverable.

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 governs subpoenas, with section (d) of that Rule relating to “protecting a person subject to a subpoena” as well as “enforcement.” Subsection

(d)(1) of the Rule states that [a] party or attorney responsible for issuing and serving a subpoena must take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena. The court for the district where compliance is required must enforce this duty and impose an appropriate sanction-which may include lost ...

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