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General Cable Corp. v. Highlander

May 31, 2006

GENERAL CABLE CORP., PLAINTIFF
v.
SHARON HIGHLANDER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hogan, M.J.

(SPIEGEL, J.)

ORDER

The Court conducted a telephonic discovery conference on May 26, 2006. All the parties involved in this dispute, Plaintiff and Defendants AGEM Enterprises International, Inc. (AGEM) and Stuart C. Hartman (Hartman) are represented by counsel. The dispute involves the answers to Document Requests which were provided to Plaintiff. The Plaintiff has written correspondence and attachments. These are (1) a letter under date of May 24, 2006 from Jeffrey E. Myers, counsel for Plaintiff with attachments, and (2) a follow-up letter from Mr. Myers describing those Document Requests still at issue, since an agreement was reached with regard to some. The Court invited, but received nothing from Curt Hartman, counsel for the two Defendants. The discovery deadline is September 1, 2006.

DOCUMENT REQUESTS TO AGEM

We shall deal first with the Document Requests as they relate to Defendant AGEM. No. 1 requests that AGEM produce "all of AGEM's financial books and records since its inception." The reason for this request is detailed in Mr. Keffer's letter of March 8, 2006 as "relevant to General Cable's allegations that AGEM received unreasonably favorable terms and actual compensation in its dealings with General Cable" and "to General Cable's claims for damages." The response to Document Request No. 1 was an "Objection" based on relevance and breadth. The reason for AGEM's response is set forth in a letter under date of April 5, 2006 to Mr. Keffer in which he indicated that Plaintiff's complaint is about a contract, negotiated by Defendant Sharon Highlander, between Plaintiff and AGEM, which contract was allegedly unfair to Plaintiff and that Plaintiff has retained an expert witness and already calculated its damages.

The Court's assessment is that the information sought, though relevant, is also unnecessary and that the Document Request is so broad as to be objectionable. AGEM's objection is sustained and it need not provide any additional information in response to Document Request No. 1.

Document Request No. 2 asks AGEM to provide "all federal, state and local tax returns AGEM filed for 2002 and any year thereafter." AGEM's Objection was related to relevance, not scope. The "relevance" is expressed in Mr. Keffer's letter of March 8, 2006 in which he says that "the tax records also go to its actual compensation from General Cable (and any other sources)." Although AGEM's counsel does not specifically address his reasons for the "Objection," it is clear from his letter of May 11, 2006 that he considers Plaintiff's case to be about the commercial reasonableness of the contract between Plaintiff and AGEM and that Plaintiff's own records would show the amount of compensation Plaintiff paid to AGEM, thus further inquiry into AGEM's tax status would simply disclose information irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims.

The Court regards Plaintiff's request as seeking irrelevant and unnecessary information and sustains AGEM's "Objection."

Document Request No. 4 asks for "all documents related to the formation of AGEM." AGEM's response was to say that "The Articles of Incorporation will be produced." Plaintiff indicated in Mr. Keffer's letter of March 8, 2006 that what Plaintiff also sought was "any earlier draft of the Articles, any documents related to the negotiation of the Articles or the terms of AGEM's formation, any government filings related to AGEM's formation and any other documents related to AGEM's formation." AGEM responded in correspondence under date of April 5, 2006 that "there are no early drafts or negotiation-related documents."

The Court finds that AGEM's production of the Articles to be responsive and that the information provided counsel's April 5, 2006 letter to be gracious, but unnecessary. Beyond the production of the Articles, the Document Request seeks information that is irrelevant and unlikely to lead to the production of admissible evidence. AGEM need produce no further response.

Document Request No. 12 asks that AGEM provide "all time sheets submitted to AGEM by any AGEM employee, consultant or independent contractor." AGEM's "Objection" was based on relevance. This Document Request seeks to discover the scope of work actually done by AGEM for Plaintiff. The "relevance" argument was apparently abandoned in favor of one based on necessity as AGEM's counsel relates in his letter of May 11, 2006 that such information was provided to Plaintiff via e-mail and available on its back-up system.

The Court finds the information sought to be directly relevant and that notwithstanding AGEM's position that Plaintiff should have such information, AGEM certainly has access to such information and must provide it.

Document Request No. 13 requests that AGEM produce "all documents relating to the business expenses of any employee, consultant or independent contractor of AGEM (including Hartman), including credit card statements and expense reports."

Notwithstanding AGEM's "Objection" based on relevance, it is obvious that the information, assuming that the scope is limited to those business expenses for which Plaintiff was billed, is directly relevant. AGEM must provide same for the same ...


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