United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the Motion to Compel and for
the Entry of a Forensic Protocol filed by Plaintiff
Industrial Packaging Supplies, Inc. (“IPS”). (ECF
No. 72). IPS and Defendants Geordy Davidson, John England,
DBE Solutions, LLC, Axis Packaging, LLC, Davidson Brothers
Equity, LLC, and Viking Packaging, LLC, consented to a
protocol for discovery. (ECF No. 184). However, Defendants
Stephen Schroeder, Cory Perry, Quinn Davidson, and Michael
Schmitt (“Remaining Defendants”) did not consent.
(ECF No. 176 at 1 n.1).
31, 2018, the court granted the parties' Consent Motion
to Appoint a Special Master pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 53 to
oversee discovery and discovery disputes in this action,
including the instant motion (ECF No. 83). (ECF No. 87 at 1).
The parties informed the Special Master that, in regard to
this motion, that only the issue of the forensics protocol
remains. (ECF No. 186 at 3 n.2). On January 28, 2019, counsel
submitted brief position papers to the Special Master as to
this remaining issue. (ECF Nos. 188, 189). On January 30,
2019, the Special Master filed a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) recommending that the court grant
IPS's Motion to Compel and for the Entry of a Forensic
Protocol (ECF No. 72) as set forth in the Report. (ECF No.
186). On February 5, 2019, the Remaining Defendants filed
Objections. (ECF No. 190). On February 13, 2019, IPS filed
its Response to the Remaining Defendants' Objections.
(ECF No. 191). The matter is now ripe for resolution.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 53(f) provides:
(3) Reviewing Factual Findings. The court
must decide de novo all objections to findings of fact made
or recommended by a master, unless the parties, with the
court's approval, stipulate that:
(A) the findings will be reviewed for clear
(B) the findings of a master appointed under
Rule 53(a)(1)(A) or (C) will be final.
(4) Reviewing Legal Conclusions. The court must
decide de novo all objections to conclusions of law made or
recommended by a master.
(5) Reviewing Procedural Matters. Unless the
appointing order establishes a different standard of review,
the court may set aside a master's ruling on a procedural
matter only for an abuse of discretion.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 53(f)(3)-(5)(emphasis in original).
a distributor of packaging supplies, equipment, and services.
(ECF No. 91 at 2). Defendant DBE Solutions, LLC,
(“DBE”), which was established on April 17, 2017,
and Defendant Axis Packaging, LLC, (“Axis”),
which was established October 11, 2017, are also alleged to
be in the packaging industry. Id. at 2. Both Axis
and DBE were formed by, among others, Defendants Geordy
Davidson and England, former sales executives for IPS.
Id. at 10. Davidson is president of Axis, and
England is the General Manager at Axis. Id. Geordy,
Davidson, and England signed non-disclosure, non-solicitation
and non-compete agreements (collectively
“Agreements”) while working for IPS. Id.
at 11. The Remaining Defendants are all former IPS employees
who worked for IPS in Greenville, and they also signed
Agreements while working for IPS. Id. at 2, 4. IPS
contends that these Defendants were also subsequently
employed by DBE. Id. In its Amended Complaint, IPS
alleges various claims based on its contention that
Defendants violated their Agreements and misappropriated
confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information.
Id. at 41-63. IPS seeks, inter alia, a permanent
injunction and damages. Id. at 64-68.