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Jack v. South Park Ventures, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 25, 2018

JOHN JACK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTH PARK VENTURES LLC, et al., Defendants.

          Algenon L. Marbley Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on John Jack's Motion to Compel South Park Ventures, LLC and Dean Grose to Provide Discovery. (Doc. 108 in 2:16-cv-633). Specifically, Mr. Jack seeks an order compelling Mr. Grose to answer additional deposition questions. For the reasons that follow, Mr. Jack's Motion to Compel is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court previously set forth the factual background of this action. (Doc. 113 in 2:16-cv-633). To summarize, Plaintiff John Jack is the manager and a member of Tri-State Disposal, LLC (“Tri-State”), and former Chief Executive Office (“CEO”) of Water Energy Services, LLC (“WES”), a company that operated injection wells for the disposal of waste water. Mr. Jack and Mr. Grose, who is part owner and operator of South Park Ventures, LLC (“SPV”), were WES's sole board members. Tri-State and SPV each held a fifty percent share in WES.

         After just a few months in operation, WES was placed in receivership in July 2016, and the receiver obtained court approval to sell WES's assets at auction. (Doc. 24 at 4 in 2:17-cv-808 (citing Am. Compl. ¶¶ 46-54 & Ex. D)). WES's assets were sold at auction in December 2016 to Funds Protection Investment, LLC (“FPI”), which assigned them to DeepRock Disposal Solutions, LLC (“DeepRock”). (Id.). DeepRock's current owners include two limited liability companies, one of which-SWD Holdings, LLC (“SWD”)-is owned by Mr. Grose. (Docs. 103 at 16; 121 at 2 in 2:16-cv-633).

         Multiple lawsuits ensued, two of which have been consolidated by this Court, Jack, v. SPV Ventures, LLC, , 2:16-cv-633 and SPV Ventures, LLC v. Jack , No. 2:17-cv-808, and are currently pending.

         A. The Discovery at Issue

         On March 29, 2018, Tri-State Disposal, LLC, Noble Zickefoose, Terry Clark, and Mr. Jack deposed Mr. Grose in multiple capacities: in his capacity as a representative of SPV, in his capacity as a representative of SWD, and in his individual capacity. (See Doc. 110-1 at Tr. 110- 111). During the deposition, Mr. Grose refused to answer questions regarding DeepRock. The following exchange is illustrative:

Mr. Jack's Attorney: Who currently is in charge of the overall operations of DeepRock?
A: I've been advised by counsel not to answer any more questions regarding DeepRock.
Mr. Grose's Attorney: DeepRock doesn't have counsel here.
Mr. Jack's Attorney: It doesn't matter. This is a discovery deposition.
Mr. Grose's Attorney: It is. And DeepRock is not here as a party or even a deponent.
Mr. Jack's Attorney: So what. That happens in all depositions, you ask questions of a witness and - Mr. Grose's Attorney: Not when it's a subject of an outstanding motion for protective order, motion to compel and the matter is being dealt with by the judge. That is not a normal situation. This matter is before the Court, and once it's resolved between DeepRock and whatever entity Jack parties [sic], when that is resolved, then you can take a deposition of the appropriate party at the appropriate time. Notice DeepRock. I think that's the way to get information you need. But you're not getting it through Mr. Grose[.]

(Doc. 110-1, Tr. 111-13; see also Id. at Tr. 142-46). The deposition continued on April 9, 2018. (See Doc. 110-2 in 2:16-cv-633).

         Due to Mr. Grose's refusal to answer various questions, Mr. Jack filed a Motion to Compel on May 16, 2018, seeking an order compelling Mr. Grose to answer questions concerning the following five subject matters:

1. The pricing DeepRock has charged customers from brine water disposal since taking over operation of the assets formers owned by Water Energy Services, LLC (“WES”) on January 12, 2017;
2. The volumes of brine DeepRock has injected into the three class II disposal wells ...

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