United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
A. GATES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case comes before the court on the motion (D.E. 51) by
defendants Lidl US, LLC, Lidl U.S. Operations, LLC, and Lidl
U.S. Management, LLC (collectively "Lidl") to
compel plaintiff ALDI Inc. ("ALDI") to produce
supplemental discovery responses or, in the alternative, to
strike purportedly irrelevant information from plaintiffs
verified complaint and motion for injunctive relief. ALDI
filed a response in opposition to the motion. See
D.E. 66. At the court's direction, see 15 May
2019 Text Order, the parties filed a joint notice (D.E. 79)
regarding the status of the instant motion, which narrowed
the relief sought. For the reasons and on the terms set forth
below, the motion will be denied.
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 the following claims: violation of
the Defend Trade Secrets Act against all defendants
(id. ¶¶ 111-22); violation of the North
Carolina Trade Secrets Protection Act against Maraccini and
Lidl (id. ¶¶ 123-33); violation of the
Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act against Savory and Lidl
(id. ¶¶ 134-44); breach of contract
against Maraccini (id. ¶¶ 145-55);
tortious interference with contractual relations against Lidl
(id. ¶¶ 156-62); breach of the duty of
loyalty against Savory (id. ¶¶ 163-70);
violation of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade
Practices Act against all defendants (id.
¶¶ 171-82); and conversion against all defendants
(id. ¶¶ 183-87).
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,
D. The CMO adopted the parties' proposed subjects for
expedited discovery, as set forth in the parties' Rule
26(f) report. See CMO § LB; Rule 26(f) Rep.
¶ 3(a)l.- 13. These subjects included "[t]he extent
to which Lidl used any ALDI information," (Rule 26(f)
Rep. ¶ 3(a)(2)); "[identification by ALDI of
information that it claims to be Confidential Information and
Trade Secrets as defined in ALDI's Verified Complaint and
the bases for such claims," (id. ¶
3(a)(9)); "ALDI's means of protecting its alleged
Confidential Information or Trade Secrets generally and with
respect to Maraccini," (id. ¶ 3(a)(10));
and "ALDI's use and enforcement of restrictive
covenants to protect its information," (id.
April 2019, Lidl served its First Set of Interrogatories and
Requests for Production of Documents on ALDI. Lidl's
Disc. Reqs. (D.E. 51-1). ALDI served responses to Lidl's
discovery requests on 19 April 2019. ALDI's Disc. Resps.
(D.E. 51-2). Lidl filed the instant motion on 26 April 2019
seeking to compel ALDI to supplement its responses to two
document production requests, nos. 5 and 6, and two
interrogatories, nos. 1 and 7, or in the alternative, to
strike certain information from ALDI's complaint and
motion for injunctive relief. As indicated, ALDI filed a
response in opposition. In their joint notice, the parties
advise that the dispute over interrogatory no. 1 has been
resolved, but that the dispute over the other discovery
requests continues. The joint notice does not address the
status of Lidl's request for alternative relief, and the
court presumes that Lidl is still pursuing such relief in its
APPLICABLE LEGAL PRINCIPLES
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enable parties to obtain
information by serving requests for discovery on each other,
including interrogatories and 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.
Lowcountry 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.
ConvaTec Inc., 268 F.R.D. 226, 243 (M.D. N.C. 2010)));
Brey Corp. v. LQ Mgmt., 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 interrogatories. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33. It requires that a
party served with interrogatories answer each fully under
oath to the extent that the party does not object to the
interrogatory. Id. (b)(3). Objections not made
timely are waived, ...