Nonparty discovery

AuthorWilliam M. Audet/Kimberly A. Fanady/David Ling Y. Kuang
Task 40 Prepare Subpoenas
Task 41 Challenge Subpoenas
Task 42 Enforce Subpoenas
Task 43 Produce and Inspect Nonparty Documents
Form 12 Subpoena
Form 13 Responses and Objections to Subpoena
Form 14 Motion
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Prepare Subpoenas
A. To prepare for trial, you may need to:
1. Obtain documents or electronically stored information (ESI) in a nonparty’s custody or control. See FR
CP 45(a)(1)(C)-(D).
2. Depose a nonparty. See FRCP 45(a)(1)(B).
3. Inspect a nonparty’s premises. See FRCP 45(a)(1)(C)-(D).
B. Nonparties may voluntarily comply with your discovery requests. However, you will often need to be prepared
to compel compliance. Before compelling, ensure you serve a proper subpoena on the nonparty pursuant to
Fed R. Civ. P. FRCP 45 et seq. See Kabbaj v. Simpson, Civil Action No. 12-1322-RGA/MPT, 2013 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 55582, at *9 (D. Del. Mar. 7, 2013) (denying motions to compel because of invalid subpoenas).
C. Typical nonparty documents sought include:
1. Records (i.e., medical, educational, government/regulatory, or business).
 
3. Eyewitness reports.
4. Construction drawings, plans and reports.
D. Pursuant to FRCP 26(b)(1), you may subpoena only records that are relevant, and not privileged, and admissible
and proportional to the needs of the case. W. Hills Farm, LLC v. ClassicsStar, LLC (In re ClassicStar Mare
Lease Litig.   
subpoena scope to be proportional to the needs of the case); cf., Layman v. Junior Players Golf Acad., Inc.,
   
between the accountant “and anyone else regarding this case,” and still contained a catchall provision for “any
   
as the scope of discovery in general and the court reviews the subpoena under the same scope and relevancy
standards. IntegraMed Am., Inc. v. Patton, 298 F.R.D. 326 (D.S.C. 2014). You may not compel a non-party to
create documents that do not exist. See Mir v. L-3 Communs. Integrated Sys., L.P., 319 F.R.D. 220, 227 (N.D.
Tex. 2016) (citation and quotation marks omitted); United States v. Childs, No. CR-09-146-D, 2018 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 20058, at *12 (W.D. Okla. Feb. 7, 2018).
 
undue burden or expense on the nonparty. Millennium TGA, Inc. v. Comcast Cable Communs. LLC, 286 F.R.D.
8, 11 (D.D.C. 2012) (“The text of Rule 45 makes quite clear that parties and attorneys who issue subpoenas
Circuit Courts will be “generally sensitive” to the costs and burdens imposed. See, e.g., Watts v. S.E.C., 482
F.3d 501, 508, 375 U.S. App. D.C. 409 (D.C. Cir. 2007). The court for the district where compliance is required
must enforce this duty and impose appropriate sanctions including the nonparty’s lost earnings and reasonable
attorneys’ fees on a party or attorney who fails to comply.
    
agents. See FRCP 30(b)(6). However, a subpoena is necessary to compel a corporate party’s other employees
to appear for deposition. Memory Bowl v. N. Pointe Ins. Co., 
adjusters); Shawnee Holdings, Inc. v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of America, 57 Fed Rules Serv. 3d 988 (MD Pa
2004). A subpoena is also necessary to compel former corporate employees to appear for deposition. Simms
v. Ctr. for Corr. Health and Policy Studies, 272 F.R.D. 36 (D.D.C. 2011).
G. A nonparty may serve a subpoena to obtain his own prior statement concerning an action or its subject matter.
FRCP 26(b)(3)(C); see also, Elam v. Ryder Auto. Operations, 179 F.R.D. 413, 415-16 (W.D.N.Y. 1998).
 
by subpoena. You may also request to inspect, copy, test, or sample ESI in any medium from which infor-
mation can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the responding party into reasonably usable form. Your
subpoena may specify the form in which ESI is to be produced. The producing party is entitled to object to

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