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China Shipping Agency Co. Inc. v. Southwest Freight Distributors

October 31, 2008

CHINA SHIPPING (NORTH AMERICA) AGENCY CO. INC.
v.
SOUTHWEST FREIGHT DISTRIBUTORS, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Shipp United States Magistrate Judge

CHAMBERS OF MICHAEL A. SHIPP UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE MARTIN LUTHER KING COURTHOUSE 50 WALNUT ST. ROOM 2042 NEWARK, NJ 07102 973-645-3827

LETTER ORDER

VIA CM/ECF

All counsel of record

Dear Counsel:

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendant Southwest Freight's Motion to Compel filed on August 15, 2008. Plaintiff filed Opposition to the Motion on August 29, 2008 and Defendant filed a reply on September 5, 2008. The Court has carefully considered the arguments of counsel and, for the reasons set forth below, GRANTS Defendant's Motion.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 defines the methods, scope, limits, and process of discovery. Section (b) of that rule establishes the limits of discovery. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b). It provides that parties may obtain discovery regarding any party's claim or defense. Id. Rule 26(b) also provides that for good cause, the Court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Id. As this Court has recognized, "Courts have construed this rule liberally, creating a broad vista for discovery." Tele-Radio Sys. Ltd. v. DeForest Elecs., Inc., 92 F.R.D. 371, 375 (D.N.J. 1981)(citing Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978)); see also Evans v. Employee Benefit Plan, 2006 WL 1644818, at *4 (D.N.J. June 6, 2006) (Kugler, J.).

In interpreting Rule 26(b)(1), district courts must be mindful that relevance is a broader inquiry at the discovery stage than at the trial stage. See Nestle Food Corp. v. Aetna Cas. and Surety Co., 135 F.R.D. 101, 103 (D.N.J. 1990). Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. However, the burden remains on the party seeking discovery to "show[] that the information sought is relevant to the subject matter of the action and may lead to admissible evidence." Carver v. City of Trenton, 192 F.R.D. 154, 159 (D.N.J. 2000); See also Nestle, 135 F.R.D. at 104.

The Defendant's discovery requests are set forth below.

1. Request for Production No. 5

Copy of any and all documents received from any third party that herein relates to the litigation, including invoices, correspondence, photographs, notices or any other writing. (The request included subcategories.)

Plaintiff responded "Not applicable" to each of the two subcategories.

The Court finds that the discovery sought is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Therefore, Plaintiff must provide documents responsive to the request. If the Plaintiff does not have documents responsive to this request, Plaintiff must provide a detailed answer and explanation.

2. Request for Production No. 16

Contracts, letter agreements or any documentation of the relationship between China and Excel as it pertains to containers drayed by SWF beginning July 1, 2003.

Plaintiff objected to the request on the basis that the documents requested are not likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and represents confidential trade secrets and/or proprietary information.

The Court finds that the discovery sought is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Therefore, Plaintiff must provide documents responsive to the request. If the discovery relates to confidential trade secrets and/or proprietary trade information, counsel should enter into a Discovery Confidentiality Agreement.

3. Request for Production No. 20

Copies of all original per diem invoices, with associated in and out interchanges and other supporting documents, ...


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