United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
R.C., by and through his guardian ad litem John D. Elliott, Plaintiff,
Richland County Court Appointed Special Advocates, Movant,
South Carolina Department of Social Services and Palmetto Place Emergency Children's Shelter, Defendants.
C. Coggins, Jr. United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Movant Richland County Court
Appointed Special Advocates' (“CASA”) Motion
to Quash Subpoena for Deposition of Lindsey McCallister,
filed December 6, 2017. ECF No. 39. Defendant Palmetto Place
Emergency Children's Shelter (“Palmetto
Place”) filed a Response in Opposition and CASA filed a
Reply. The Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
November 28, 2017, Palmetto Place issued a subpoena for the
deposition of Lindsey McCallister, a volunteer guardian ad
litem (“GAL”) for CASA, who served as a GAL for
Plaintiff during the time of the underlying abuse and neglect
action initiated by Defendant South Carolina Department of
Social Services (“SCDSS”) and during the time
Plaintiff was in the custody of SCDSS. ECF No. 39 at 1.
Pursuant to the South Carolina Children's Code, the
family court must appoint a GAL for all children in abuse and
neglect proceedings, and the GAL must be represented by
counsel. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-1620(1). CASA argues that
any information McCallister has is protected and may not be
disclosed pursuant to the Children's Code. ECF No. 39 at
3. Moreoever, CASA contends that any information that
McCallister possesses is subject to protections afforded by
attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine.
Id. at 4. For the reasons set forth below,
CASA's Motion to Quash is denied.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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). “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). “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); see
also United States 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”).
gives parties broad leave to depose “any person”
who may have relevant information in a case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 30.
When a party subpoenas attendance at a deposition, the party
receiving the subpoena 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 or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3)(A).
respect to CASA's argument that McCallister is prohibited
from sharing any information by the Children's Code, the
Court finds that the Children's Code, as a South Carolina
statute, does not dictate federal discovery and privilege
law. All privileges asserted in federal court are governed by
Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides
“[t]he common law- as interpreted by United States
courts in the light of reason and experience-governs a claim
of privilege unless any of the following provides otherwise:
the United States Constitution; a federal statute; or rules
prescribed by the Supreme Court.” Fed.R.Evid. 501. This
case involves both federal and state law claims, and the
evidence in dispute appears to be relevant to both the state
and the federal claims. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
has held that “in a case involving both federal and
state law claims, the federal law of privilege
applies.” Virmani v. Novant Health Inc., 259
F.3d 284, 293 n.3 (4th Cir. 2001). Therefore, for resolution
of the present discovery dispute, concerning material
relevant to both federal and state law claims, the Court will
apply federal privilege law.
is no federally recognized privilege applicable to GALs.
Accordingly, the Court finds that McCallister is subject to
being subpoenaed to appear at a deposition. Further, it
appears that McCallister would have ...