United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ENARGY POWER (SHENZHEN) CO. LTD., et al., Plaintiffs,
XIAOLONG WANG, et al., Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANTS' RESPONSES TO DOCUMENT REQUESTS AND PRODUCTION OF ALL DOCUMENTS THEREOF
JENNIFER C. BOAL, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiffs Enargy Power (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Enargy Corporation, Jacky Chen, and Zoomkoh Management LLC (collectively, the "Plaintiffs") have moved for an order compelling defendants Xialong Wang and Cecein Chen (collectively, the "Defendants") to (1) remove the qualifying language "... relating to, referring to or concerning the subject matter of Plaintiffs' complaint" from certain responses to requests for production; (2) identify which documents are responsive to which requests and if they have no responsive documents to a particular request, state so; and (3) complete their production of documents. Docket Nos. 54, 55. For the following reasons, this Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
From February 2008 to August 2011, Wang worked for Enargy as the director of Enargy's research and development department. Docket No. 8-1 ¶ 6. Wang and Enargy agreed on an annual salary of $200, 000 and a five-year term of employment. Id . ¶ 29. In February 2008, Enargy advanced $800, 000 (four years' salary) to Wang with the understanding that if Wang did not complete the entire four years, he would return the pro-rata portion of the advance that he had not yet earned. Id . ¶¶ 30-32.
While with Enargy, Wang led the design and development of a "unique and customized high density DC/DC [power] converter [(the "PH Project")] to be used in specialized aircraft." Docket No. 8-1 ¶ 7. Wang worked on the PH Project as well as a similar project called the "Five Series Project." Id . ¶ 11. Together, Enargy and Wang developed a number of trade secrets including "the electric circuit layout, design drawings, bill of material, printing circuit board, software code, structure, experiment data, and testing data." Id . ¶ 8. The parties dispute whether the trade secrets were intended to be the sole property of Enargy or Wang or jointly owned. Id . ¶¶ 8-9; Docket No. 17-1 ¶ 38.
Over time, the relationship between Enargy and Wang deteriorated. Docket No. 17-1 ¶¶ 30-39. Wang stopped working for Enargy in or about August 2011. Docket No. 8-1 ¶ 33. Plaintiffs allege that, prior to his departure, Wang, from his home in Canton, Massachusetts, instructed other Enargy employees to transmit the PH Project and Five Series Project files to him. See AC ¶¶ 48-52, 62. Plaintiffs further allege that Wang has since transferred those trade secrets to Enargy's distributor-turned-competitor Sichuan Chengye, with whom Wang is currently employed. See id. ¶¶ 56, 58, 64.
Wang's wife, C. Chen, worked as treasurer for Enargy's Massachusetts corporation. Plaintiffs allege that C. Chen wrongfully removed $330, 000 from the corporate bank account. See AC ¶¶ 27, 33; Docket 8-1 ¶¶ 19-20; Docket Nos. 8-9, 8-11, 8-16.
On June 5, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Wang and C. Chen, Docket No. 1, which was subsequently amended twice. Docket Nos. 6, 36. In their second amended complaint, Plaintiffs bring claims alleging, inter alia, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA"), conversion, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of fiduciary duty. Docket No. 36.
On May 2, 2014, the Defendants served responses to Plaintiffs' First Set of Requests for Production of Documents. Docket Nos. 55-3, 55-4. Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to compel on July 9, 2014. Docket No. 54. Defendants filed an opposition on July 21, 2014. Docket No. 61. The Court heard oral argument on September 16, 2014.
A. Standard Of Review
"Discovery procedures set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seek to further the interests of justice by minimizing surprise at trial and ensuring wide-ranging discovery of information." Cartel Asset Mgmt. v. Ocwen Fin. Corp., No. 01-cv-01644 , 2010 WL 502721, at *9 (D. Colo. Feb. 8, 2010) (citing United States ex rel. Schwartz v. TRW, Inc. , 211 F.R.D. 388, 392 (C.D. Cal. 2002)). To that end, Rule 26(b) permits "discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense..." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id . Rule 26(b)(1) generally permits liberal discovery of relevant information. Baker v. Liggett Group, Inc. , 132 F.R.D. 123, 125 (D. Mass. 1990). As the Supreme Court has instructed, because "discovery itself is designed to help define and clarify the issues, " the limits set forth in Rule 26 must be "construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matters that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders , 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978).
There are limits, however, on the scope of discovery. A court must limit discovery if it determines that the discovery sought is (1) unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (2) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or (3) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the ...