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Lifetree Trading PTE. LTD v. Kingston

United States District Court, D. Utah

August 24, 2018

LIFETREE TRADING, PTE. LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
JACOB O. KINGSTON, Defendant.

          Clark Waddoups District Judge

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL

          Brooke C. Wells United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the court is Plaintiff, Lifetree Trading, PTE., LTD.'s (Lifetree), Motion to Compel Production of Documents.[1] Having considered the parties' memoranda, the court will grant Plaintiff's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Lifetree is a trader and supplier of biofuels.[2] It is alleged Defendant Jacob O. Kingston is the Chief Executive Officer of Washakie Renewable Energy (Washakie), a company that claimed to be a producer of biofuels.[3] In 2014, Washakie sought and entered an agreement with Lifetree for the purchase of 450, 000, 000 gallons of biodiesel fuel.[4] This lawsuit centers on the recovery of a judgement entered in an action in New York.[5] One of Plaintiff's main allegations in the New York action was a fraudulent transfer in the amount of $9, 999, 980.00 from Washakie to Kingston.[6] At the onset of this lawsuit, Lifetree filed an Ex Parte Motion for Prejudgment Writ of Attachment.[7] Since the writ required briefing and oral argument, the Court entered the following docket text order on April 27, 2018:

Requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) are suspended pending resolution of the Prejudgment Writ of Attachment. The parties will have until and including fourteen days after resolution of the Prejudgment Writ to comply with the rule.[8]

         On June 15, 2018, the Court issued an Order concluding the writ “will remain in place pending resolution of this action.”[9] Since the writ was resolved on June 15, 2018, per the docket text order referenced above, the parties had until June 29, 2018, to comply with Rule 16(b).

         Instead, it is alleged counsel for the parties had an initial attorney's planning conference meeting on May 17, 2018.[10] On May 24, 2018, Plaintiffs counsel sent Defendant's counsel a proposed Attorney Planning Meeting Report.[11] Previously, on May 9, 2018, Plaintiff had served Defendant its First Request for Production of Documents.[12] It is alleged Plaintiffs counsel sent emails to Defendant's counsel inquiring about Defendant's intent to respond to the requests and that both emails were ignored.[13] Defendant's counsel argues the time to respond to the discovery requests would not begin to run until entry of an attorney planning meeting report, but defense counsel also never responded or approved the draft of the proposed attorney planning meeting report provided by Plaintiffs counsel.[14]

         In the opposition brief, Defendant argues he has not been served the requests and Plaintiff was not harmed by the non-production. Defendant also claims the meeting on May 17, 2018 was not a Rule 26 (f) conference and therefore the 30-day time period for production under Rule 34 has not begun to run. Notably, Defendant never explains why he did not respond to Plaintiff's follow up emails, sought an extension or protective order, or cited the language of the docket text order as a basis for suspending discovery. In fact, Defendant claims there is “no deadline set for a Rule 16(b) Scheduling Conference or Scheduling Order.”[15] The docket text order expressly provides the “parties will have 14 days after the resolution of the Prejudgment Writ to comply with the rule.”[16] And Defendant acknowledges that under that scenario, “Defendant would have until July 29, 2018, to comply with Plaintiff's Request for Production.”[17] On July 30, 2018, Defendant did respond to the document requests, [18] the court will now review the adequacy of those responses.

         DISCUSSION

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern discovery in federal civil actions. Federal district courts have broad discretion over discovery.[19] Rule 26 provides that parties

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, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.[20]

         Information within the scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence at trial to be discoverable.[21] Under Rule 26(c), a court on its own, or via motion, may limit discovery.[22] Such limitations help prevent discovery that is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative and encourages ...


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