Discovery

Obtaining a Subpoena in Aid of Foreign Litigation

The Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition in Nevada

     The law recognizes a legal fiction—that a corporation or other legal entity is a separate “person” who acts independent of the owners of the entity.[1]  Because the entity is a separate person, the law also allows a deposition of the entity under Rule 30(b)(6), which reads:

(b) Notice of the Deposition; Other Formal Requirements.

(6) Notice or Subpoena Directed to an Organization. In its notice or subpoena, a party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination. The named organization must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify. A subpoena must advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make this designation. The persons designated must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization. This paragraph (6) does not preclude a deposition by any other procedure allowed by these rules.

Some practitioners inaccurately refer to a Rule 30(b)(6) entity deposition as a deposition of the “PMK” or “Person Most Knowledgeable”.

It is All About the Spokesperson . . . .

The law under Rule 30 does not require the entity to provide the person with the “most” knowledge on any particular topic.  It only requires the entity to provide a spokesperson whose testimony on a designated topic will bind the company.  The company could present its janitor to testify if it educates the janitor on the topics and “represents the knowledge of the corporation, not the individual deponent’s.”  Great Am. Ins, Co. of N.Y. v. Vegas Const. Co., 251 F.R.D. 534, 538 (D. Nev. 2008) (Rule 30(b)(6) designee binds company regardless of designee’s personal knowledge on the subject).[2]

The Notice

As a practical matter, the party wishing to take the deposition uses Rule 30(b)(6) to name the company (not an individual) as a witness whose testimony it desires.  The deposing party must designate (as part of the deposition notice), with “reasonable particularity”, the subject matters of the deposition.  There is no limit to the number of subjects.  Wise practitioners keep the topics broad enough to allow them to follow where the topic leads during the deposition, but specific enough to reasonably put the company on notice that it may expect questions about that topic.

Objections; Protective Orders

The company may object to topics outlined in a Rule 30(b)(6) notice, but some authorities suggest the company must also seek a protective order from the court before going forward with the deposition.  U.S. E.E.O.C. v. Caesars Entm’t, Inc., 237 F.R.D. 428, 436 (D. Nev. 2006) (discussing the circumstances under which a protective order to Rule 30(b)(6) topics may be appropriate); Beach Mart, Inc. v. L & L Wings, Inc., 302 F.R.D. 396, 406 (E.D. N.C. 2014) (“The proper procedure to object to a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition notice is not to serve objections on the opposing party, but to move for a protective order.”).  Moreover, the filing of a motion does not relieve a deponent from appearing at a deposition—that obligation is only relieved by a protective order.  Nationstar Mortg., LLC v. Flamingo Trails No. 7 Landscape Maint. Ass’n, 316 F.R.D. 327, 336–37 (D. Nev. 2016) (citing Pioche Mines Consol., Inc. v. Dolman, 333 F.2d 257, 269 (9th Cir. 1964) (“unless [the movant] has obtained a court order that postpones or dispenses with his duty to appear, that duty remains”); see also In re Toys “R” Us–Delaware, Inc. Fair & Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) Litig., No. ML 08–1980 MMM (FMOx), 2010 WL 4942645, at *3 & n. 2 (C.D.Cal. July 29, 2010) (collecting cases, and finding failure to attend *337 deposition was unexcused despite the pendency of a motion for protective order)).

The Testimony

Magistrate Judge Leen explains the obligation to prepare a witness to testify:

The duty to prepare a Rule 30(b)(6) designee goes beyond matters personally known to the witness or to matters in which the designated witness was personally involved. Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Federal Savs. Bank, 162 F.R.D. 338, 343 (N.D. Ill.1995); Securities and Exchange Commission v. Morelli, 143 F.R.D. 42, 45 (S.D. N.Y.1992). The duty to produce a prepared witness on designated topics extends to matters not only within the personal knowledge of the witness but on matters reasonably known by the responding party. Alexander v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 186 F.R.D. 137, 141 (D. D.C.1998). By its very nature, a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition notice requires the responding party to prepare a designated representative so that he or she can testify on matters not only within his or her personal knowledge, but also on matters reasonably known by the responding entity.” Alliance v. District of Columbia, 437 F.Supp.2d 32, 37 (D.D.C.2006), citing Alexander, supra, at 141.

Great Am. Ins., 251 F.R.D. at 539.

[1] Assuming the owners uphold corporate formalities.  Failing to do so could invite a claim for piercing the corporate veil.

[2] Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen provided a great overview of the obligations of the parties relative to Rule 30(b)(6) in the Great American case.  It is a worthwhile read for every practitioner.

Discovery DigestDiscovery

General

The Rules of the Game: Comprehensive Amendments to the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure
The Changes Coming to the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure:  An Overview
Deadlines and Due Dates Under the 2019 Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure
What Can Nevada State Court Attorneys Learn About Proportionality From Federal Court Decisions?
NRCP 26 – GENERAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING DISCOVERY
NRCP 29 – STIPULATIONS ABOUT DISCOVERY PROCEDURE
NRCP 35 – PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EXAMINATIONS
NRCP 37 – FAILURE TO MAKE DISCLOSURE OR TO COOPERATE IN DISCOVERY; SANCTIONS (more…)

Sample  Objections to and Caselaw Regarding Written Discovery–Interrogatories, Requests to Produce, and Requests for Admission

Objecting to discovery is a necessary thing at times.  As long as one is purposeful in approach, objections can assist your case.  Take the wrong approach, or simply copy these objections without much thought, and you may find yourself sanctioned.  Consider the counsel given in this ABA article by Andrew Fesler before drafting your discovery responses:

“How to present a winning objection:

  • If the request would take an unreasonable amount of time or money to fulfill in relation to the reasonable needs of the case (proportionality), recite specific, persuasive facts that explain why, preferably in an affidavit.
  • If the request is not reasonably related to any claim or defense, and if there is no good reason to go beyond the ordinary scope of discovery under Rule 26(b), take the time to explain why in your discovery response.
  • Comply with Rule 34’s requirement that you state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of the objection.
  • If you are not producing documents when your responses come due, state when the documents will be produced.

At any discovery conference, you want to sound like the most thoughtful and reasonable lawyer in the room.  Start early.  Build your discovery objections with the same care that you build your case in chief.”

For a review of what Nevada federal judges have to say about discovery under the proportionality standard, see this article:

What Can Nevada State Court Attorneys Learn About Proportionality From Federal Court Decisions?

OBJECTIONS  

“Repeating the familiar phrase that each request is ‘vague, ambiguous, overly broad, unduly burdensome and oppressive, not relevant nor calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and, further, seeks material protected by the attorney/client or other privilege and the work product  doctrine’ is insufficient. . . . The burden is on the party resisting discovery to clarify and explain precisely why its objections are proper given the broad and liberal discovery rules.”  Alboum v. Koe, M.D., et al., Discovery Commissioner Opinion #10 (November 2001) (citing Pleasants v. Allbaugh, 2002 U.S.Dist. Lexis 8941 (D. D.C. 2002); G-69 v. Degnan, 130 F.R.D. 326 (D. N.J. 1990); Josephs v. Harris Corp., 677 F.2d 985 (3d Cir. 1982)). (more…)

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