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Rondini v. Bunn

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division

June 7, 2019

MICHAEL W. RONDINI, as Administrator and Personal Representative for the Estate of Megan Elizabeth Rondini, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
TERRY J. BUNN, JR., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Quash and Motion for Protective Order (Doc. # 112)[1] and Supplemental Motion to Quash and Protective Order. (Doc. # 117). The Motions have been fully briefed (Docs. # 114, 118-120) and are ripe for decision. After careful review, and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that Defendant's Motions (Docs. # 112, 117) are due to be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Michael Rondini brings this wrongful death action as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Megan Rondini, his deceased daughter. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant intentionally imprisoned and sexually assaulted the decedent on the evening of July 1, 2015, which led to the decedent's eventual suicide on February 26, 2016. (See generally Doc. # 100).

         During discovery, Plaintiff issued Notices of Intent to serve non-party subpoenas on (1) the Tuscaloosa Police Department, the Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Department, the Northport Police Department, and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation; and (2) nineteen medical providers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where Defendant may have sought treatment.[2] (Docs. # 112 at 2; 117 at 1). The subpoenas directed at the law enforcement agencies request the following information:

Your entire file, including, but not limited to, all records, writings, documents, photos, videos, audio recordings, reports, or other written material contained in your file, in your possession or under your control of TERRY JACKSON BUNN, JR. (DOB xx/xx/xxxx, SSN: xxx-xx-xxxx) listed as a Witness, Person of Interest, Suspect, and/or Defendant.

(Docs. # 112 at 3; 117 at 2). The subpoenas issued to the Tuscaloosa medical providers seek:

Your entire file, including but not limited to, all medical records in entirety, third-party records, admission/discharge records, medication/pharmacy records, films, scans, photos, videos, audio recordings, writings/notes, laboratory and test results, documents, reports, alcohol/drug abuse records, Psychiatric records, sexually transmitted disease records, or other written material contained in your file, in your possession or under your control of TERRY JACKSON BUNN, JR. (DOB xx/xx/xxxx, SSN: xxx-xx-xxxx).

(Doc. # 112 at 5).

         Defendant urges the court to quash the subpoenas and issue a protective order because the requests are unlimited in time and scope and seek irrelevant and privileged information. (See generally Doc. # 112). Prior to the filing of this Motion, counsel discussed their relative positions on the proposed subpoenas on at least two occasions, but no agreement was reached. (Doc. # 112 at 1-2).

         II. Analysis

         Although he has not framed his arguments in these terms, the court gathers that Defendant objects to the issuance of the subpoenas pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(d)(3)(A)(iii)-(iv). (See generally Docs. # 112, 117). These provisions mandate that a court quash or modify a subpoena that either “requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies” or “subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A)(iii)-(iv). Generally, a party does not have standing to challenge a non-party subpoena. See Barger v. First Data Corp., 2018 WL 6591883, at *3 (N.D. Ala. Dec. 14, 2018). However, standing may be established based on that party's personal right or privilege over the subpoenaed information. Id. Furthermore, that party's right must be balanced against the relevance and proportionality of the requested records to the needs of the case. Id.

         Defendant also requests the entry of a protective order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), which states that a “court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including…forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain matters.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(D). “The party seeking a protective order has the burden to demonstrate good cause, and must make ‘a particular and specific demonstration of fact as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements' supporting the need for a protective order.” Meide v. Pulse Evolution Corp., 2019 WL 1518959, at *5 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 8, 2019) (citing Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Se. Floating Docks, Inc., 231 F.R.D. 426, 429-30 (M.D. Fla. 2005)). Unlike a Motion to Quash, “[t]he decision to enter a protective order is within the court's discretion and does not depend on a legal privilege.” Id.

         The scope of discovery that may be sought through a Rule 45 non-party subpoena is the same permissible scope under ...


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