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Lawson v. Spirit Aerosystems, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

January 16, 2020

LARRY A. LAWSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Angel D. Mitchell U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the court on Non-Party Arconic Inc.'s (“Arconic”) Motion to Quash Subpoena and Defendant Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.'s (“Spirit”) Motion to Compel Production of Documents in Compliance With Subpoena. (ECF Nos. 177 & 186.) Spirit served the subject subpoena on Arconic seeking information to ascertain the business overlap between Spirit and Arconic, which is the central issue in this case. Arconic now moves to quash the subpoena, arguing it is a build-to-print supplier in the aerospace industry, which means that Arconic manufactures component parts based on its customers' own unique design specifications rather than manufacturing generic aerostructures or aircraft components for general sale. Arconic therefore objects to the subpoena on the grounds that (1) it seeks Arconic's customers' confidential and proprietary information and (2) compliance would be unduly burdensome.

         Arconic's objections are largely without merit. Arconic has not established that compliance would be unduly burdensome, particularly considering the scope articulated by Spirit. Furthermore, Arconic has not shown that compliance would necessarily require production of confidential and proprietary information at all and, even if it would, why the protective order already in entered in this case does not adequately address any confidentiality concerns. The subject motions are therefore granted in part and denied in part as set forth below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background of this lawsuit is more thoroughly set forth in the court's Memorandum and Order on Spirit's motion to dismiss. See Lawson v. Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., No. 18-1100-EFM, 2018 WL 3973150, at *1-*4 (D. Kan. Aug. 20, 2018). Plaintiff Larry A. Lawson is Spirit's former President and Chief Executive Officer. Spirit claims that, after he retired from Spirit, he breached the non-compete provision in his Retirement Agreement (“Agreement”) via his business dealings with Arconic. That Agreement prohibited him from serving in various capacities with any business that is “engaged, in whole or in part, in the Business, or any business that is competitive with the Business or any portion thereof.” Id. at *2, *7. The Agreement defines the term “Business” as follows:

We are engaged in the manufacture, fabrication, maintenance, repair, overhaul, and modification of aerostructures and aircraft components, and market and sell our products and services to customers throughout the world (. . . the “Business”).

Id. at *2, *7 (emphasis in original). Spirit originally argued that “Business” should be broadly construed to encompass other aircraft component manufacturers, including Arconic. Id. at *7. But the court rejected this interpretation and held that the term “Business” means “the specific products and services provided, marketed, or sold by Spirit.” Id. at *8 (emphasis in original).

         Spirit's subpoena to Arconic contains ten document requests that relate primarily to the nature of Arconic's business. (See ECF No. 178-1, at 9-11.)[1] Arconic responded, stating that it has no documents responsive to Request Nos. 1, 9, and 10.[2] (ECF No. 178-2, at 3, 7.) Arconic agreed to produce documents responsive to Request Nos. 2 and 3, which seek documents relating to Arconic's manufacturing capabilities and aerospace certifications. (See ECF No. 178-2, at 3.) Arconic produced 75 pages of documents.

         Arconic objected to producing documents responsive to the other five Requests (ECF No. 178-2, at 3-7), which are at issue here. They seek the following:

Request No. 4: Marketing materials and/or presentations provided to actual or potential customers regarding aerostructures and aircraft components manufactured, marketed, assembled and/or sold by Arconic, excluding fasteners and raw materials, from April 1, 2013 to July 31, 2018.
Request No. 5: Catalogues, inventory lists, or other Documents sufficient to identify all aerospace/aircraft services offered or provided by Arconic from April 1, 2013 to July 31, 2018, as well as the customers/end users of those services.
Request No. 6: Catalogues, inventory lists, or other Documents sufficient to identify all aerostructures and aircraft components that Arconic manufactured, marketed, assembled and/or sold to customers, excluding fasteners and raw materials, from April 1, 2013 to July 31, 2018, as well as the customers/end users of those products.
Request No. 7: Catalogues, inventory lists, or other Documents sufficient to show Arconic's manufacturing, marketing, assembling, and/or selling of the following aircraft components:
1. Bay frames
2. Bird strike panel
3. Bonded assemblies
4. Bulkheads
5. Clam shells
6. Crack stopper
7. Crown frames
8. Doors
9. Door frames, surrounds
10. Edge frames
11. Fan cowl doors and hinges
12. Flaps
13. Flap track
14. Flight deck ...

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