United States District Court, D. New Jersey
SMART VENT PRODUCTS, INC. Plaintiff,
CRAWL SPACE DOOR SYSTEM, INC. Defendant.
B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court by way of a motion filed by
Defendant Crawl Space Door System, Inc. (hereinafter,
“Defendant”) appealing Magistrate Judge Karen M.
Williams' March 11, 2019 Statement of Reasons and
Supplemental Order [Docket Item 159] requiring Defendant to
produce certain documents in connection with certifications
created by Defendant as a result of the permanent injunction
entered in this case. (See Def.'s Mot. [Docket
Item 160].) The Court will affirm Judge Williams' March
11, 2019 order because the Court finds that the documents in
question are relevant to certain claims and defenses that
remain in this case, and Judge Williams' Order was
neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to law. The Court
finds as follows:
Court thoroughly described the relevant background of this
case in Smart Vent Products, Inc. v. Crawl Space Door
System, Inc., No. 13-5691, 2016 WL 4408818 *2-*4 (D.N.J.
Aug. 16, 2016), and shall not repeat it herein, except as
relevant to the present motion.
March 11, 2019, the Court filed a Memorandum Opinion and
Order, clarifying which claims and defenses remain in this
case. (See Memorandum Opinion [Docket Item 165];
Order [Docket Item 166].) In conclusion, the Court stated:
this Court's understanding that the issues remaining for
trial consist of:
a. The aspects of Plaintiff's Counts I, II, and III
alleging Defendant is liable for unfair competition arising
from Defendant's alleged false or misleading statements
regarding Defendant's vents' net open area and
coverage area, and those vents' compliance with industry
standards other than NFIP and FEMA, as well as
Defendant's alleged false or misleading statements
regarding the patent status of Defendant's vents;
b. The aspects of Plaintiff's Count IV alleging Defendant
is liable for negligent misrepresentation concerning the
matters in (a), above;
c. Plaintiff's Count V, asserting that Defendant is
liable for misuse of Plaintiff's trademark;
d. Defendant's counterclaims.
Opinion [Docket Item 165], 9-10.) The Court further stated
that there was presently no motion before the Court seeking
to challenge Defendant's compliance with the permanent
injunction entered in this case. (Id. at 3
a magistrate judge decides a non-dispositive motion, the
“district court may modify the magistrate [judge]'s
order only if the district court finds that the magistrate
[judge]'s ruling was clearly erroneous or contrary to
law.” Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 785
F.2d 1108, 1120 (3d Cir. 1986); see also L. Civ. R.
72.1(c)(A)(1) (“A Judge shall consider the appeal . . .
and set aside any portion of the Magistrate Judge's order
found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”).
magistrate judge's finding is clearly erroneous when
“although there may be some evidence to support it, the
reviewing court, after considering the entirety of the
evidence, is ‘left with the definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed.'”
Kounelis v. Sherrer, 529 F.Supp.2d 503, 518 (D.N.J.
2008) (quoting Dome Petroleum Ltd. v. Emp'rs Mut.
Liab. Ins. Co., 131 F.R.D. 63, 65 (D.N.J. 1990);
United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395
(1948)). A ruling is contrary to law if “the magistrate
judge has misinterpreted or misapplied applicable law.”
Id. Where a magistrate judge “is authorized to
exercise his or her discretion, the decision will be reversed
only for an abuse of discretion.” Id.
the present case, Judge Williams' order requiring
Defendant to produce certain certifications created by
Defendant as a result of the permanent injunction entered in
this case was neither clearly erroneous nor an abuse of
discretion. Rule 26, Fed. R. Civ. P., states in relevant part
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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Judge Williams rejected
Defendant's argument that the documents in question are
protected from disclosure by the work product doctrine,
finding that Defendant had failed to “set forth with
any specificity information to support the application of the
doctrine.” (Statement of Reasons and Supplemental Order
[Docket Item 159], 2 (citing Louisiana Mun. Police
Employees Ret. Sys. v. Sealed Air Corp., 253 F.R.D. 300,
306 (D.N.J. 2008)).) Defendant does not assert that this
conclusion was incorrect in the present appeal. Neither does
Defendant assert that reasons of proportionality (such as
undue burden or expense or a tangential relationship to the
claims and defenses) should prevent the disclosure of these
documents. Therefore the Court shall focus on the question of
the relevance of these documents to the remaining claims and
defenses in the case.
Judge Williams stated that “[t]he amended
certifications are . . . relevant because Plaintiff contends
that the amended certifications misrepresent the performance
of Defendant's flood vents.” (Statement of Reasons
and Supplemental Order [Docket Item 159], 2 (citing
Plaintiff's Letter [Docket Item ...