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Anthony California, Inc. v. Moran

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

August 22, 2018

ANTHONY CALIFORNIA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES MORAN, M&M SALES, INC., and DIRECT LIGHTING, L.L.C., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Cheryl R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Anthony California, Inc.'s motion for issuance of a third-party subpoena to Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, (Filing No. 39), Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a reply brief, (Filing No. 49), and Defendant's objection to that motion. (Filing No. 50). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for a third-party subpoena will be granted in part, Plaintiff's motion for leave will be denied, and Defendant's objection will be sustained.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Anthony California Inc., (“Anthony California”) designs and sells lamps and accessories. (Filing No. 1). Anthony California operates its business by having multiple Chinese companies (“foreign entities”) manufacture its designs, with sales representatives selling the manufactured lamps and accessories to retailers. Defendant James Moran worked as a sales representative for Anthony California, both individually[1] and through the corporate defendant M&M Sales, Inc., beginning over 20 years ago until the year 2014. (Filing No. 1).

         On April 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed the above-captioned action against Defendants alleging breach of contract, tortious interference with business expectations, misappropriation of trade secrets, unjust enrichment, deceptive trade practices, violations of the consumer protection act, and contributory and vicarious copyright violations. (Filing No. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Defendants conspired with the foreign entities to manufacture lamps, some of which were Anthony California designs, and to sell them directly to Plaintiff's customers. (Filing No. 40 at CM/ECF p. 4). None of the foreign entities are named as defendants in the above captioned case. Instead, Plaintiff has filed a separate lawsuit in the Central District of California against some of the foreign entities (the “California Litigation”). See No. 5:15-CV-00876-JGB-SP.[2]

         Plaintiff states that Raymour & Flanigan Furniture (“Raymour & Flanigan”) was one of Plaintiff's largest customers at the time that Defendant Moran left Plaintiff's employment. Plaintiff claims Defendants learned of Raymour & Flanigan's information through their use of Plaintiff's confidential customer information. Thereafter, Defendants allegedly interfered with Plaintiff's relationship with Raymour & Flanigan, “even taking that relationship entirely[, ]” (Filing No. 40 at CM/ECF p. 2), by convincing Raymour & Flanigan to cancel purchase orders with Plaintiff and becoming the the supplier on those orders. (Id.).

         The proposed third-party subpoena seeks documents from Raymour & Flanigan, relating to Defendants' and the foreign entities' sales to Raymour & Flanigan. Defendants generally object to the subpoena in its entirety but specifically argue against the following topic inclusions:

6. Purchase orders and/or sales invoices (or similar documents) that reflect the sale or purchase of, or offer to sell or purchase, lamp or lighting products from any of the Defendants since January 1, 2014.
7. Purchase orders and/or sales invoices (or similar documents) that reflect the sale of or purchase of, or offer to sell or purchase, lamp or lighting products from any Foreign Entities since January 1, 2014.
11. Any contracts and agreements between [Raymour & Flanigan] and any of the Defendants from January 1, 2014 to the present.
12. Any contracts and agreements between [Raymour & Flanigan] and any of the Foreign Entities from January 1, 2014 to the present.

(Filing No. 41-2 at CM/ECF pp. 12-13). Plaintiff claims it needs the information requested in the contested topics to calculate damages for its claims against Defendants and to provide documentation and support for its claims.

         On May 9, 2018, the undersigned magistrate judge conducted an informal hearing concerning the subpoena. During the hearing, the undersigned limited the briefing on this issue, ordering that a reply brief be filed only upon a showing of good cause. Plaintiff has filed a motion arguing that there is good cause for the filing of a reply brief, (Filing No. 49), and Defendant has objected to the motion. (Filing No. 50). The court believes that information found within the supporting and responsive briefs are sufficient for the court to ...


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