United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
E. Gates, United States Magistrate Judge.
case comes before the court on the motion (D.E. 55) by
plaintiff ALDI Inc. ("ALDI") to compel defendants
Lidl US, LLC, Lidl U.S. Operations, LLC, and Lidl U.S.
Management, LLC (collectively "Lidl") to produce
supplemental discovery responses. Lidl filed a response in
opposition to the motion. See D.E. 61. ALDI filed a
supplemental emergency motion (D.E. 73), which narrowed the
relief sought in its initial motion to compel. For the
reasons and on the terms set forth below, the motions will be
allowed in part and denied in part.
commenced this action asserting that its former employee,
Bruna Maraccini ("Maraccini"), misappropriated
ALDI's trade secrets in violation of a
nondisclosure/confidentiality agreement when she accepted
employment with one of ALDI's competitors, Lidl. See
generally Compl (D.E. 1) 1-2. In addition, ALDI alleges
that Maraccini retained ALDI's confidential, proprietary,
and/or trade secret information notwithstanding an agreement
to return such property to ALDI and enlisted other ALDI
employees to obtain ALDI's confidential information for
Lidl's use and benefit. Id. at 2(b), (c).
complaint, ALDI asserts claims against Lidl for: Defend Trade
Secrets Act violations-(id. ¶¶ 111-22);
North Carolina Trade Secrets Protection Act violations
(id. ¶¶ 123-33); Virginia Uniform Trade
Secrets Act violations (id. ¶¶ 134-44);
tortious interference with contractual relations
(id. ¶¶ 156-62); North Carolina Unfair and
Deceptive Trade Practices Act violations (id.
¶¶ 171 -82); and conversion (id.
March 2019, this court allowed ALDI's motion for
preservation of documents, software, and things, and entered
a temporary restraining order against defendants
("TRO") (D.E. 18). The TRO enjoined defendants from
"[misappropriating, using, or disclosing to any person
or entity ALDI's Confidential Information and Trade
Secrets; and . . . possessing any original, copies or
summaries of ALDI's Confidential Information and Trade
Secrets in any form, electronic or otherwise." TRO 4
¶ 2. The TRO was to remain in effect for 14 days
(id. at 5 ¶ 4), but was extended in duration on
18 March 2019 until further order of the court (see
D.E. 38 at 2).
court entered a case management order ("CMO") (D.E.
46) on 2 April 2019. The CMO provides for expedited discovery
on certain topics in advance of preliminary injunction
proceedings. CMO §I.B. The CMO permitted each party to
serve up to 15 requests for production of documents and up to
10 interrogatories by 5 April 2019, with responses to each
being due within 14 days of service. Id. § I.C,
April 2019, ALDI served its Amended First Set of
Interrogatories and Amended First set of Requests for
Production of Documents on Lidl. Disc. Reqs. (D.E. 56-1).
Lidl served responses to ALDI's discovery requests on 19
April 2019. Lidl Disc. Resps. (D.E. 56-2). ALDI filed its
initial motion to compel on 26 April 2019 seeking to compel
Lidl to supplement its responses to four document requests.
As indicated, Lidl filed a response in opposition. In its
supplemental emergency motion, filed 8 May 2019, ALDI has
limited its request for relief to just one document request,
no. 2. At a telephone status conference on 8 May 2019
(see D.E. 76), the court confirmed that Lidl was not
going to respond separately to ALDI's emergency motion,
but would rely on the arguments set forth in its response to
the initial motion to compel.
APPLICABLE LEGAL PRINCIPLES
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enable parties to obtain
information by serving requests for discovery on each other,
including requests for production of documents. See
generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 26-37. Rule 26 provides
for a broad scope of discovery:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
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
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely
benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
district court has broad discretion in determining relevance
for discovery purposes. Seaside Farm, Inc. v. United
States, 842 F.3d 853, 860 (4th Cir. 2016); Watson v.
Low country Red Cross, 974 F.2d 482, 489 (4th
Cir. 1992). The party resisting discovery bears the burden of
establishing the legitimacy of its objections. Eramo v.
Rolling Stone LLC, 314 F.R.D. 205, 209 (W.D. Va. 2016)
("[T]he party or person resisting discovery, not the
party moving to compel discovery, bears the burden of
persuasion." (quoting Kinetic Concepts, Inc. v.
ConvaTecInc, 268 F.R.D. 226, 243 (M.D. N.C. 2010)));
Brey Corp. v. LQMgmt, L.L.C., No. AW-1
l-cv-00718-AW, 2012 WL 3127023, at *4 (D. Md. 26 Jul. 2012)
("In order to limit the scope of discovery, the
'party resisting discovery bears the burden of showing
why [the discovery requests] should not be
granted.'" (quoting Clere v. GC Servs.,
L.P., No. 3:10-cv-00795, 2011 WL 2181176, at *2 (S.D.
W.Va. 3 June 2011))).
governs requests for production of documents. A party
asserting an objection to a particular request "must
specify the part [to which it objects] and permit ...