This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 09/22/2021 at 17:44:49 (UTC).

C.R. LAURENCE CO., INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION VS ANGEL GARCIA

Case Summary

On 07/21/2020 C R LAURENCE CO , INC , A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION filed a Contract - Business lawsuit against ANGEL GARCIA. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******7475

  • Filing Date:

    07/21/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Contract - Business

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

C.R. LAURENCE CO. INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

Defendant

GARCIA ANGEL

Not Classified By Court

FRAMELESS HARDWARE COMPANY LLC

RODRIGUEZ ARMANDO

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

LLEWELLYN GARRET S.

Defendant Attorneys

HELLER LAWRENCE E.

NOVODOR ALAN

 

Court Documents

Opposition - OPPOSITION [PLAINTIFF'S] TO FRAMELESS HARDWARE COMPANY'S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

1/27/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION [PLAINTIFF'S] TO FRAMELESS HARDWARE COMPANY'S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: FAILURE T...)

2/4/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE: FAILURE T...)

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

2/9/2021: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (NOT "FURTHER DISCOVERY...)

2/9/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (NOT "FURTHER DISCOVERY...)

Notice of Ruling

2/16/2021: Notice of Ruling

Declaration - DECLARATION OF LAWRENCE E. HELLER IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION TO SUBPOENA, AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,300.00; DECLARA

3/22/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION OF LAWRENCE E. HELLER IN SUPPORT OF OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION TO SUBPOENA, AND REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,300.00; DECLARA

Opposition - OPPOSITION THIRD PARTY, ARMANDO RODRIGUEZS, OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF, C.R. LAURENCES MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER AMENDED RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION IN RESPONSE TO DEPOSITION SUBPOENA AND REQU

3/22/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION THIRD PARTY, ARMANDO RODRIGUEZS, OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF, C.R. LAURENCES MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER AMENDED RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION IN RESPONSE TO DEPOSITION SUBPOENA AND REQU

Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ TO PROVIDE FURTHER RESPONSES AND PRODUCE DOCUMENTS

3/25/2021: Reply - REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO COMPEL ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ TO PROVIDE FURTHER RESPONSES AND PRODUCE DOCUMENTS

Objection - OBJECTION THIRD PARTY, ARMANDO RODRIGUEZS, EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF SETH A. GOLD FILED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS REPLY TO MOTION TO COMPEL

3/30/2021: Objection - OBJECTION THIRD PARTY, ARMANDO RODRIGUEZS, EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS TO THE DECLARATION OF SETH A. GOLD FILED IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS REPLY TO MOTION TO COMPEL

Motion for Summary Judgment

4/27/2021: Motion for Summary Judgment

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE (IDC))

1/13/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE (IDC))

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION SEEKING A COURT ORDER SPECIAL...)

1/14/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON EX PARTE APPLICATION SEEKING A COURT ORDER SPECIAL...)

Notice of Ruling

1/20/2021: Notice of Ruling

Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL MOTION TO COMPEL ANSWERS

12/18/2020: Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL MOTION TO COMPEL ANSWERS

Declaration - DECLARATION OF SETH A. GOLD IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION TO SUBPOENA

12/2/2020: Declaration - DECLARATION OF SETH A. GOLD IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION TO SUBPOENA

Separate Statement

12/2/2020: Separate Statement

Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER AMENDED RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION IN RESPONSE TO DEPOSITION SUBPOENA OF ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ

12/2/2020: Motion to Compel - MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER AMENDED RESPONSES AND PRODUCTION IN RESPONSE TO DEPOSITION SUBPOENA OF ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ

Notice - NOTICE OF UNAVAILABLITY OF COUNSEL

10/1/2020: Notice - NOTICE OF UNAVAILABLITY OF COUNSEL

53 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/12/2022
  • Hearing07/12/2022 at 10:00 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

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  • 07/05/2022
  • Hearing07/05/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

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  • 02/14/2022
  • Hearing02/14/2022 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Post-Mediation Status Conference

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  • 11/12/2021
  • Hearing11/12/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment

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  • 09/09/2021
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 37; Post-Mediation Status Conference - Not Held - Continued - Stipulation

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  • 08/27/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 37; Court Order

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  • 08/27/2021
  • DocketAssociation of Attorney; Filed by Angel Garcia (Defendant)

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  • 08/27/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Court Order)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 08/27/2021
  • DocketStipulation and Order (EXTENDING DEADLINE TO COMPLETE MEDIATION); Filed by C.R. Laurence Co., Inc., a California Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 08/27/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Court Order) of 08/27/2021); Filed by Clerk

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60 More Docket Entries
  • 12/02/2020
  • DocketMotion to Compel (Further Amended Responses and Production in Response to Deposition Subpoena of Armando Rodriguez); Filed by C.R. Laurence Co., Inc., a California Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 10/01/2020
  • DocketNotice (of Unavailablity of Counsel); Filed by Angel Garcia (Defendant)

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  • 09/04/2020
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Angel Garcia (Defendant)

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  • 08/31/2020
  • DocketProof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by C.R. Laurence Co., Inc., a California Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/23/2020
  • DocketOrder to Show Cause Failure to File Proof of Service; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/23/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 07/21/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by C.R. Laurence Co., Inc., a California Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/21/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by C.R. Laurence Co., Inc., a California Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/21/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by C.R. Laurence Co., Inc., a California Corporation (Plaintiff)

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  • 07/21/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: 20STCV27475    Hearing Date: April 2, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: April 2, 2021

CASE NUMBER: 20STCV27475

CASE NAME: C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. v. Angel Garcia, et al.

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff, C.R. Laurence Co., Inc.

OPPOSING PARTY: Non-Party, Armando Rodriguez

TRIAL DATE: July 12, 2022

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

PROCEEDING: Motion to Compel Production of Documents Responsive To Deposition Subpoena

OPPOSITION: March 22, 2021

REPLY: March 25, 2021

TENTATIVE: Plaintiff’s motion is moot as to request 1 and denied as to request 2. Mr. Rodriguez's request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $4,300. Mr. Rodriguez is to give notice.

Background

The following factual background is common to both motions before the court.

This action arises from Defendant, Angel Garcia’s (“Defendant”) employment with Plaintiff, C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. (“Plaintiff”) Plaintiff alleges that beginning in 2018, it began experiencing “mass defections” of employees to a rival company, Frameless Hardware Company, (“FHC”) including Defendant. During this time, Defendant was allegedly caught stealing Plaintiff’s trade secrets and provided this information to third party individuals, including with Armando Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), who had been named Vice President Manufacturing at FHC. Defendant’s alleged taking and sharing of trade secret information was also allegedly in violation of Plaintiff’s Employee Handbook & Acknowledgement, which required that employees such as Defendant keep Plaintiff’s information strictly confidential.

According to the Complaint, Plaintiff invests significant money in creating in-house product designs, largely based on confidential and proprietary data, including its proprietary design for “Panic Door Handles.” The Complaint also alleges that Plaintiff’s customer lists, supplier information and pricing information compromises the remaining part of its confidential information.

Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets (Cal. Civ. Code § 3426 et seq.), (2) conversion, (3) breach of employment contract, (4) violation of Business and Professions Code § 17200.

On February 9, 2021, Non-Party Frameless Hardware Company, LLC’s (“Frameless”) motion for protective order regarding Non-Party, Armando Rodriguez’s (“Rodriguez”) deposition was granted. Plaintiff was prohibited from asking Mr. Rodriguez certain questions about Frameless’ confidential and proprietary information. Plaintiff’s motion to compel Mr. Rodriguez’s deposition was denied.

Plaintiff now moves to compel Mr. Rodriguez to produce certain documents responsive to Plaintiff’s Notice of Deposition for Mr. Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez opposes the motion.

Meet and Confer 

A motion to compel further responses to requests for production at a deposition must be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.480, subd. (b).) 1

Plaintiff submits the declaration of its counsel, Seth A. Gold (“Gold”) to demonstrate compliance with his statutory meet and confer requirements. Gold attests that on September 13, 2020, Mr. Rodriguez was personally served with a Deposition Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents. (the “Subpoena”) (Gold Decl. ¶ 2, Exh. A.) On October 1, 2020, Mr. Rodriguez’s attorney served objections to the Subpoena. (Gold Decl. ¶ 3, Exh. B.)

On October 30, November 5, and November 13, 2020, Gold met and conferred with counsel for Mr. Rodriguez regarding the Subpoena and objections. (Gold Decl. ¶¶ 5-6, Exh. C-E.) On November 16, 2020, the parties had a telephonic meet and confer discussion. (Gold Decl. ¶ 7.) On November 30 and December 1, 2020, the parties continued to exchange meet and confer emails regarding the requests at issue in this motion. (Gold Decl. ¶ 13.)

The Gold Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.480.

Discussion

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.480, a party may move for an order compelling production if a deponent “fails to answer any question or to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing under the deponent's control that is specified in the deposition notice or a deposition subpoena.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2025.480, subd. (a).) This motion shall be made no later than “60 days after the completion of the record of the deposition.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2025.480, subd. (b).) “If the court determines that the answer or production sought is subject to discovery, it shall order that the answer be given or the production be made on the resumption of the deposition.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 2025.480, subd. (i).)

Plaintiff contends that Mr. Rodriguez should be ordered to provide a further response to requests 1 and 2 in Subpoena. The court will address each request individually.

No. 1: All DOCUMENTS (including telephone logs, telephone invoices, email, and text messages) comprising, reflecting, or RELATING TO any COMMUNICATIONS from July 1, 2018 to the present between YOU and ANGEL GARCIA.

Mr. Rodriguez’s amended response to this request objects that the request is overly broad, irrelevant, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 4.) Additionally, Mr. Rodriguez objects on the grounds that the request fails to identify any electronically stored information that would be relevant to the subject matter. (Id.) Subject to these objections, Mr. Rodriguez states as follows: “Pursuant to stipulation it is agreed that Rodriguez will, if he can access them from his phone carrier, produce any telephone communications he had with the Defendant from February 2020 through September 2020.” (Id.)

According to Mr. Rodriguez’s counsel, Lawrence E. Heller (“Heller”), Mr. Rodriguez has since produced these call logs for the time period between February 2020 to August 2020 on November 30, 2020. (Opposition, 4; Heller Decl. ¶ 3, Exh. B.)

Plaintiff contends that further responses to this request is required because Plaintiff began experiencing defections of employees in 2018 and Defendant, who is alleged to have misappropriated Plaintiff’s trade secrets, allegedly had at least one conversation with Mr. Rodriguez shortly after his departure in March 2020 and may have had additional communications. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 4-9.)

In opposition, Mr. Rodriguez contends that no order compelling further responses is required because his second amended response, served December 10, 2020, is full and complete. (Opposition, 4-6.) Additionally, Mr. Rodriguez contends that where irrelevant information is sought from a non-party witness, a stricter standard of relevance applies. (Opposition, 7-9.)

Mr. Rodriguez has demonstrated that he served an amended response to request number 1 after Plaintiff’s motion was filed on December 2, 2020. Thus, Plaintiff’s motion is moot as to request number 1.

No. 2: All DOCUMENTS (including telephone logs, telephone invoices, email, and text messages) comprising, reflecting, or RELATING TO any COMMUNICATIONS from January 1, 2020 to the present between YOU and any PERSON employed by or affiliated with CRL. (For purposes of this request only, COMMUNICATIONS with Christian Rodriguez are excluded.)

Mr. Rodriguez objected to this request on the grounds that it is overbroad, irrelevant, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 11-12.) Mr. Rodriguez’s response states that he worked for Plaintiff for fifteen years, during which he established “number of friendships” with individuals who have nothing to do with issues in this action. (Id.) Mr. Rodriguez additionally objects that the request is vague and fails to identify any electronically stored information that would be relevant to the subject matter. (Id.) Subject to these objections, Mr. Rodriguez stated that he would produce “any telephone communications he had with the Defendant from February 2020 through September 2020.” (Separate Statement in Support of Motion, 12.)

Plaintiff contends that a further response to this request is required because Plaintiff allegedly has evidence that Mr. Rodriguez has provided contradictory information about the phone call with Defendant which forms the basis of this action. (Id., 15-17.) In opposition, Mr. Rodriguez contends that no further response is required because the request is “ridiculously overbroad in scope” and as a result seeks documents with no relevance to the subject matter of this litigation. (Opposition, 6-8.) Additionally, Mr. Rodriguez cites Monarch Healthcare v. Superior Ct. (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 1282, 1289–90 (Monarch) for the argument that a stricter relevance standard applies when discovery is sought from a non-party.

In Monarch, the Court of Appeal stated that “[d]iscovery procedures are generally less onerous for strangers to the litigation.” (Id. at 1289.) As such, a nonparty served with a deposition subpoena for production of business records was not required to object to the subpoena by a motion to quash. (Id. at 1287-1288.) Additionally, “[a]s between parties to litigation and nonparties, the burden of discovery should be placed on the latter only if the former do not possess the material sought to be discovered.” (Calcor Space Facility, Inc. v. Superior Court (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 216, 225.)

The court agrees with Mr. Rodriguez that a further response is not required. Pursuant to guidance from Calcor, Monarch and other cases, a stricter relevance standard applies when a party seeks discovery from a non-party. Plaintiff does not dispute that Mr. Rodriguez had one telephone conversation with Defendant in or about April 2020 regarding the facts at issue in this action. Plaintiff’s argument that documents responsive to this request are required because they are calculated to show whether Mr. Rodriguez may have had other conversations with its staff fails. Whether Mr. Rodriguez may have had other communications with Plaintiff’s staff and the contents of these communications has no bearing on the facts of this action. Mr. Rodriguez is not a party, and Plaintiff has not made the required showing to obtain such discovery from Mr. Rodriguez.

For these reasons, Plaintiff’s motion is denied as to request number 2.

Monetary Sanctions

Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.480, subdivision (j), “[t]he court shall impose a monetary sanction…against any party, person, or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel an answer or production, unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”

Mr. Rodriguez requests sanctions in the amount of $4,300 against Plaintiff on the grounds that the motion was not brought in good faith. Heller attests in support of this request that he has spent 8.6 hours reviewing Plaintiff’s motion and preparing an opposition, at a rate of $500 per hour. (Heller Decl. ¶ 7.)

The court finds that while Plaintiff may have had a reasonable basis for filing the motion in December, it should not have continued to press the motion and require non-party Rodriguez to respond to the motion. The court will award sanctions in the amount of $4,300 against Plaintiff and its law firm, Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, jointly and severally.

Conclusion

Plaintiff’s motion is moot as to request 1 and denied as to request 2. Mr. Rodriguez's request for sanctions is granted in the amount of $4,300. Mr. Rodriguez is to give notice.

Case Number: 20STCV27475    Hearing Date: February 09, 2021    Dept: 37

HEARING DATE: February 9, 2021

CASE NUMBER: 20STCV27475

CASE NAME: C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. v. Angel Garcia, et al.

TRIAL DATE: None

PROOF OF SERVICE: OK

PROCEEDING: Motion for Protective Order Regarding Deposition of Armando Rodriguez

MOVING PARTY: Non-Party, Frameless Hardware Company, LLC

OPPOSING PARTY: Plaintiff, C.R. Laurence Co., Inc.

OPPOSITION: January 27, 2021

REPLY: February 2, 2021

TENTATIVE: FHC’s motion is granted. Plaintiff is prohibited from asking Rodriguez certain questions regarding FHC’s confidential and proprietary information consistent with the court’s ruling. FHC is to give notice.

PROCEEDING: Motion to Compel Deposition Answers Regarding Deposition of Armando Rodriguez

MOVING PARTY: Plaintiff, C.R. Laurence Co., Inc.

OPPOSING PARTY: Non-Party, Armando Rodriguez

OPPOSITION: January 27, 2021

REPLY: February 2, 2021

TENTATIVE: Plaintiff’s motion is denied. Rodriguez is to give notice.

Background

The following factual background is common to both motions before the court.

This action arises from Defendant, Angel Garcia’s (“Defendant”) employment with Plaintiff, C.R. Laurence Co., Inc. (“Plaintiff”) Plaintiff alleges that beginning in 2018, it began experiencing “mass defections” of employees to a rival company, Frameless Hardware Company, (“FHC”) including Defendant. During this time, Defendant was allegedly caught stealing Plaintiff’s trade secrets and provided this information to third party individuals, including Armando Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), who had been named Vice President Manufacturing at FHC. Defendant’s alleged taking and sharing of trade secret information was also allegedly in violation of Plaintiff’s Employee Handbook & Acknowledgement, which required that employees such as Defendant keep Plaintiff’s information strictly confidential.

According to the Complaint, Plaintiff invests significant money in creating in-house product designs, largely based on confidential and proprietary data, including its proprietary design for “Panic Door Handles.” The Complaint also alleges that Plaintiff’s customer lists, supplier information and pricing information compromises the remaining part of its confidential information.

Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets (Cal. Civ. Code § 3426 et seq.), (2) conversion, (3) breach of employment contract, (4) violation of Business and Professions Code § 17200.

Non-party FHC now moves for a protective order regarding Rodriguez’s deposition. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Plaintiff also moves to compel answers to certain questions at Defendant’s deposition. Defendant opposes the motion.

MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

Meet and Confer 

A motion for a protective order under Code of Civil Procedure, section 2025.420 must be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.420, subd. (a).) 1

FHC submits the declaration of its counsel, Polly Towill (“Towill”) in support of its motion. Towill attests that on December 22, 2020, she sent a meet and confer letter to CRL’s counsel asking that it withdraw its motion to compel regarding Rodriguez’s deposition on the grounds that the questions at issue go beyond the permissible scope of discovery for FHC and Rodriguez, non-parties to this action. (Towill Decl., ¶ 3, ex. 1.) CRL responded to this letter on December 29, 2020 and refused to withdraw its motion. (Towill Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. 2.) Thereafter, Towill attests that she sent a letter on January 4, 2021 notifying CRL of FHC’s intent to file the instant motion. (Towill Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 3.)

The Towill Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.420.

Discussion

Code of Civil Procedure, section 2025.420, subdivision (a) provides, in relevant part: “Before, during, or after a deposition, any party, any deponent, or any other affected natural person or organization may promptly move for a protective order.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.420, subd. (a).)  “The court, for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party, deponent, or other natural person or organization from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense.”  (Id., § 2025.420, subd. (b).)  “The court shall limit the scope of discovery if it determines that the burden, expense, or intrusiveness of that discovery clearly outweighs the likelihood that the information sought will lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 2017.020.)  

“An exact definition of a trade secret is not possible.  Some factors to be considered in determining whether given information is one's trade secret are: (1) the extent to which the information is known outside of his business; (2) the extent to which it is known by employees and others involved in his business; (3) the extent of measures taken by him to guard the secrecy of the information; (4) the value of the information to him and to his competitors; (5) the amount of effort or money expended by him in developing the information; (6) the ease or difficulty with which the information could be properly acquired or duplicated by others.” (Uribe v. Howie (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 194, 208.)

FHC moves for a protective order that the following questions not be asked at any further deposition of Rodriguez:

FHC contends that these questions go beyond the scope of permissible discovery framed by the pleadings as Defendant was never employed by FHC and the issue of whether Defendant misappropriated Plaintiff’s trade secrets can be resolved without examining FHC’s confidential information. (Motion, 7-8.) As such, FHC contends that a protective order is necessary to protect its internal business information, which is confidential. (Motion, 8-9.) FHC also contends that Plaintiff failed to provide proper notice to FHC as it allegedly served only Rodriguez with the Subpoena and Notice of Deposition. (Motion, 7-9.) FHC submits a declaration from Chris Hanstad (“Hanstad”), its President and Chief Executive Officer, in support of the instant motion.

Hanstad attests that FHC manufactures and sells “a range of products relating to door hardware.” (Hanstad Decl. ¶ 2.) According to Hanstad, FHC “makes many internal business decisions” in order to develop and manufacture these products, and these decisions are the “product of internal research, engineering work, and the consideration of other information not known to the public.” (Id.) Further, FHC “regularly improves on its processes” for creating these products, and such improvements “are recorded in documentation which FHC maintains internally” and does not disseminate to other persons. (Hanstad Decl. ¶ 3.) Additionally, Hanstad attests that FHC maintains “lists of vendors and suppliers,” which includes information on “materials, components, and other items FHC purchases from them.” (Hanstad Decl. ¶ 4.) Hanstad contends that such information is not publicly available and is thus confidential and proprietary information. (Id.) According to Hanstad, if the above described information were disclosed, FHC would “suffer significant harm” by losing competitive advantage, as its competitors could use this information to improve upon their own products. (Hanstad Decl. ¶ 5.) Thus, FHC “regularly takes measures to maintain the confidentiality and proprietary nature of its business information,” such as by requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements and by maintain other policies and procedures which prohibits disclosure of its confidential information. (Hanstad Decl. ¶ 6.) Finally, Hanstad attests that its Vice President, Rodriguez, is not authorized to disclose FHC’s confidential information to the extent he knows such information. (Hanstad Decl. ¶ 7.)

In opposition, Plaintiff contends that FHC’s motion must be denied for all of the following reasons: (1) FHC has not shown that it moved promptly, (2) the information sought by these deposition questions is relevant (3) additionally, FHC cannot demonstrate that undue burden warrants a protective order because FHC refused to enter into a stipulated protective order.

First, Plaintiff contends that FHC’s motion must be denied because it did not move “promptly” as defined in Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.420, subdivision (a). (Opposition, 7.) According to Plaintiff, FHC “should at least provide the Court evidence showing when it first learned of the Subpoena,” given that Plaintiff served the subpoena on September 13, 2020, and the deposition took place on FHC’s premises. (Id.) The court is not persuaded by this argument. Plaintiff’s cited authority does not stand for the proposition that the court must deny FHC’s motion based on its failure to move “promptly.” The court accepts FHC’s representations in its moving papers that it was not served with the subpoena to Rodriguez and only learned of Plaintiff’s desire to take Rodriguez’s deposition after the fact.

Second, Plaintiff contends that FHC’s motion must be denied because the information sough by the above deposition questions is relevant. (Opposition, 8-10.) Plaintiff contends that these questions seek relevant information because the Complaint alleges that at the time Defendant misappropriated its trade secrets, Defendant shared this information with third-parties, including Rodriguez, who was a Vice President at FHC. (Motion, 8-10; Complaint, ¶ 13.)

“Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with this title, any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action or to the determination of any motion made in that action, if the matter either is itself admissible in evidence or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. “ (Code Civ. Proc. § 2017.010.) Information is “relevant to the subject matter” if it “ “might reasonably assist a party in evaluating the case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement.”” [citation omitted] (Lipton v. Superior Court (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1599.)

The court finds that it is reasonably possible that the information sought by the deposition questions at issue could help plaintiff evaluate its claims. As discussed above, the Complaint alleges that Defendant misappropriated trade secrets from Plaintiff and shared it with Rodriguez, who was a Vice President at FHC. Additionally, the Complaint alleges that “Panic Door Handles” is an example of a proprietary product designed by Plaintiff and that FHC was a major competitor many of Plaintiff’s former employees moved to. Thus, questions about FHC’s business plans regarding panic door handles may “reasonably assist” Plaintiff in evaluating its case and preparing for trial.

Third, Plaintiff contends that FHC has not and cannot show that oppression and undue burden warrant a protective order because Plaintiff has previously proposed a reasonably alternative, which FHC rejected. (Motion, 10-12.) Plaintiff contends that even where trader secret privilege is at issue, information that is relevant is discoverable unless the party opposing discovery can show that “an appropriately tailored protective order is inadequate to protect the asserted interest.” (Motion, 10-11.) Plaintiff cites to City and County of San Francisco v. Uber Technologies, Inc. (2019), 36 Cal.App.5th 66, 83-84 (Uber) for this argument.

Plaintiff’s reliance on Uber is misplaced. In Uber, the City of San Francisco and Uber Technologies, Inc. entered into a stipulated protective order, signed by the court, which specifically provided that it was appropriate to provide the information at issue subject to administrative subpoenas which were the subject of the parties’ disputes on appeal. (Id. at 83.) The Court of Appeal rejected Uber’s objections to City’s administrative subpoenas on the grounds that the subpoenas sought private and confidential information. (Id. at 84.) The Court of Appeal found that given the protective order between the parties, Uber had a burden of demonstrating that the protective order was inaccurate, a burden which it did not meet. (Id.) Unlike Uber, no protective order has been signed by the parties or by FHC and Rodriguez, the nonparties affected by Plaintiff’s deposition subpoena.

Plaintiff also submits the declaration of its counsel, Seth Gold (“Gold”) in support of this argument. Gold attests that on September 30, 2020, he sent a proposed protective order to counsel for Defendant and for Rodriguez. (Gold Decl., ¶¶ 4-5, Exs. C-D.) Gold attests that he received a response from Rodriguez’s counsel on October 1, 2020, Lawrence Heller. (“Heller”) (Gold Decl., ¶ 6, Ex. E.) Heller’s response indicates that Rodriguez refused to sign the protective order because FHC was not a party to the proposed protective order. (Gold Decl., Ex. E.)

Plaintiff’s third argument fails. Plaintiff is trying to discover FHC’s purportedly trade secret information and confidential business information. Rodriguez is not in a position to agree to a protective order. The Gold Declaration demonstrates that FHC was not served with the proposed protective order. As such, Plaintiff’s argument that FHC should be barred from raising confidentiality and privacy objections to Rodriguez’s deposition based on FHC’s rejection of a proposed protective order fails because FHC was never provided notice of said protective order.

The court accepts the Hanstad Declaration as admissible evidence that FHC maintains confidential and proprietary information regarding its design of door hardware products, supplier and vendor lists. Moreover, Plaintiff’s allegations show that Plaintiff could benefit from obtaining this competitive information. It has not made any evidentiary showing that FHC ever received any information from Defendant. For these reasons, FHC’s requested protective order is GRANTED.

Conclusion

FHC’s motion is granted. Plaintiff is prohibited from asking Rodriguez certain questions regarding FHC’s confidential and proprietary information consistent with the court’s ruling. FHC is to give notice.

MOTION TO COMPEL DEPOSITION ANSWERS

Meet and Confer Efforts

A motion to compel deposition must be accompanied by a good faith meet and confer declaration under section 2016.040 or, “when the deponent fails to attend the deposition and produce the documents, electronically stored information, or things described in the deposition notice, by a declaration stating that the petitioner has contacted the deponent to inquire about the nonappearance.”¿ (Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.450,¿subd.¿(b)(2).)¿¿A¿declaration¿under section 2016.040¿must state facts showing a reasonable and good faith attempt at an informal resolution of each issue presented in the motion.¿¿(Code Civ. Proc.,¿§ 2016.040.)¿

Plaintiff submits the declaration of his counsel, Seth Gold (“Gold”) in support of the instant motion. Gold attests that following Rodriguez’s deposition on October 8, 2020, he exchanged meet and confer letters with Rodriguez’s counsel on December 4, 2020 and December 10, 2020. (Gold Decl., ¶¶ 9-10, Exs. H-I.) Thereafter, the parties had telephonic meet and confer discussions on December 10 and December 11, 2020 regarding the topics raised in their meet and confer letters, including Rodriguez’s contention that he could not answer the questions at issue because of an employment contract setting forth certain material as confidential. (Gold Decl. ¶¶ 11-12.)

The Gold Declaration is sufficient for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure, section 2025.450.

Discussion

  1. Legal Authority

Code of¿Civil Procedure, section 2025.480, provides in relevant part:¿¿ 

¿ 

(a)¿¿”If a deponent fails to answer any question or to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing under the deponent’s control that is specified in the deposition notice or a deposition subpoena, the party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that answer or production.”

¿ 

¿ 

(Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.480,¿subd. (a).)

  1. Analysis

Plaintiff contends that Rodriguez should be ordered to respond to the following questions:

  1. Is it true that at the time in April 2020 that FHC [Frameless Hardware Company] was considering making a product that would compete with CRL’s panic door handles?

  2. Has FHC ever considered making panic door handles?

  3. And just for the record, did FHC ever consider making a panic door handle product?

  4. Do you know whether FHC has any engineering drawings relating to a panic door handle product?

  5. Does FHC have any documentation relating to panic door handles?

  6. Are there any suppliers you’re working with now that you worked with at CRL?

(Separate Statement in Support of Motion.) Plaintiff contends that Rodriguez should be ordered to respond because the requested information is relevant to Plaintiff’s claims. (Motion, 7-10.) Additionally, Plaintiff contends that Rodriguez should be ordered to respond because Rodriguez’s confidentiality objections are meritless. (Motion, 10-11.) Specifically, Plaintiff contends “no law that shields facts from discovery where a party has a contract prohibiting disclosure of such facts.” (Id.)

As discussed above, FHC’s motion for protective order pertains to the same questions as Plaintiff’s motion. The court found with respect to FHC’s motion that these depositions question are relevant but that FHC has met its burden of establishing that these questions seek confidential and proprietary information. Additionally, Plaintiff’s argument that “no law” protects facts from discovery where a contract prohibits disclosure of these facts is without merit. Plaintiff cites no authority in support of this argument.

Thus, because the court grants FHC’s motion for protective order regarding the same deposition questions, Plaintiff’s motion is denied.

Conclusion

Plaintiff’s motion is denied. Plaintiff is to give notice.

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