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Layman v. Junior Players Golf Academy Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

April 21, 2016

ANDREW DEAN LAYMAN, as Natural Guardian for and on behalf of ISABELLA LAYMAN, a minor over the age of Fourteen, Plaintiff,
v.
JUNIOR PLAYERS GOLF ACADEMY, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter is before the court on plaintiff Andrew Dean Layman’s (“Layman”) motion to quash the deposition notice of Jeffrey Charles Yalden (“Yalden”) and defendant Junior Players Golf Academy’s (“the Academy”) motion for protective order. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies in part and grants in part Layman’s motion and grants the Academy’s motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Layman is the father and natural guardian of Isabella Layman (“Bella”), a minor under the age of 18. Am. Compl. ¶ 2. The Academy is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of South Carolina with its principal place of business in Beaufort, South Carolina. Id. ¶ 3. Bella is an amateur golfer who began attending the Academy in August 2014. Id. ¶ 11. In the original complaint, Layman alleged that on or about September 2014, former defendant Isadora Nilsson (“Nilsson”) began harassing and bullying Bella by various means, including making “accusations of cheating, threats of physical harm, and defamatory statements regarding [Bella’s] want of chastity.” Compl. ¶ 14. Layman alleged that Bella reported the bullying to employees and agents of the Academy, but they failed to take action. Id. ¶ 15. Layman further alleged that the bullying and harassment intensified, but that employees at the Academy failed to do anything about it. Id. According to Layman, Bella sought, and continues to seek, psychological treatment and was forced to withdraw from the Academy on March 25, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. On April 1, 2015, Layman filed the present action, alleging the following claims: negligence against the Academy, assault against Nilsson, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and civil conspiracy against both the Academy and Nilsson.

On October 8, 2015, the parties filed a stipulation of dismissal, dismissing Nilsson as a defendant with prejudice. The remaining parties filed a consent amended scheduling order under which motions to amend the pleadings were due by November 5, 2015. Layman filed an amended complaint on December 16, 2015.[1] On March 3, 2016, Layman filed the present motion to quash the deposition notice of its former testifying expert Jeffrey Charles Yalden (“Yalden”). The Academy filed a response in opposition to the motion on March 18, 2016. On March 7, 2016, the Academy filed a motion for a protective order and to quash the documents subpoena Layman served its accountant.

Layman filed a response in opposition to the motion to quash on March 24, 2016. The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for the court’s review.

II. STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides that, unless otherwise limited by court order, “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged 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 of expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) (note that the 2015 Amendments omit the phrase “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”). Notably, “[i]nformation within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id.

“The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense” by forbidding or limiting the scope of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Such orders may prescribe, among other measures, “forbidding the disclosure or discovery” or “forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain matters.” Id. (c)(1)(A), (c)(1)(D). A motion for a protective order is subject to a conferral certification requirement comparable to that for motions to compel and the same provision on the award of expenses applicable to motions to compel. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1), (3). “The scope and conduct of discovery are within the sound discretion of the district court.” Columbus-Am. Discovery Grp. v. Atl. Mut. Ins. Co., 56 F.3d 556, 568 n.16 (4th Cir. 1995) (citing Erdmann v. Preferred Research, Inc. of Ga., 852 F.2d 788, 792 (4th Cir. 1988)); see also U.S. ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (stating that district courts are afforded “substantial discretion . . . in managing discovery”).

Rule 30 gives parties broad leave to depose “any person” who may have relevant information in a case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 30. A party may depose any person who has been identified as an expert whose opinions may be presented at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(4)(A). However, a party ordinarily may not, by interrogatories or deposition, discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed in anticipation of litigation or to prepare for trial or who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(4)(D). A party may do so only as provided in Rule 35(b) for a physical or mental examiner’s report or “on showing exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.” Id. When a party subpoenas a nonparty’s attendance at a deposition, the nonparty may move to quash the subpoena under Rule 45, which requires that a district court must quash or modify a subpoena that:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception ...

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