United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA
G. Torres United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Vasila Queen's (“Ms.
Queen”) motion to quash two non-party subpoenas that
Defendant served in May 2019. [D.E. 1]. State Farm Mutual
Insurance Company (“State Farm”) responded to Ms.
Queen's motion on June 4, 2019 [D.E. 4] to which Ms.
Queen replied on June 21, 2019. [D.E. 7]. Therefore, Ms.
Queen's motion is now ripe for disposition. After careful
consideration of the motion, response, reply, and relevant
authority, and for the reasons discussed below, Ms.
Queen's motion is DENIED.
Queen filed a motion on May 13, 2019 [D.E. 1] to quash two
non-party subpoenas that were issued in State Farm Mutual
Automobile Ins. Co., et al. v. Parisien et al., No.
1:18-cv-00289-ILG (E.D.N.Y.) (the “Underlying
Action”), a civil case currently pending in the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The Underlying Action includes allegations of a fraud-derived
racketeering enterprise in Brooklyn, New York that occurred
in a clinic where physicians, chiropractors, acupuncture
therapists, and medical sources providers submitted bills to
State Farm for treatments to automobile accident claimants.
State Farm alleges that these treatments were medically
unnecessary, ineligible for reimbursement, and/or never
the issues in the Underlying Action is whether non-physicians
owned and controlled the Brooklyn clinic, directed patient
treatment, and siphoned the proceeds of the treatment to
themselves. If laypersons owned and controlled the healthcare
corporations, those corporations are ineligible under New
York law for the reimbursement of healthcare services and
their claims for payment are deemed fraudulent. And any
evidence that laypersons obtained the proceeds of the
professional corporations constitutes proof of lay ownership
has revealed that, during the alleged conspiracy period, many
of the defendants in the Underlying Action made large
payments to businesses and individuals connected to a
non-physician layperson named Tatiana Rybak (“Ms.
Rybak”). One of Ms. Rybak's associates is Ms. Queen
who owns a nail and hair salon located at the Trump
International Hotel in Miami, Florida. State Farm claims that
bank records show that 15 different healthcare providers, who
worked at the clinic, wrote at least 70 checks either payable
to Ms. Queen directly or payable as cash into Ms. Queen's
bank account. These deposits occurred over a six-year period
between February 2012 and February 2018, totaling $100, 000.
None of the checks were for amounts over $10, 000 and, in
some instances, large cash withdrawals were made from Ms.
Queen's bank account shortly after the deposit.
reviewing these bank records, State Farm deposed several
former employees. But, those employees invoked their Fifth
Amendment right to self-incrimination and refused to answer
questions related to specific payments. State Farm then
served Rule 34 requests to defendants in the Underlying
Action and requested that they produce any documents related
to the payments to Ms. Queen. Yet, the documents requested
are not in defendants' possession, custody, or control.
Given the suspicious nature of these transactions and the
unlikelihood that a New York healthcare provider would send
unsolicited payments to a Miami nail salon owner, State Farm
issued a subpoena to Ms. Queen to discover the purpose of
these payments and determine the relationship that she has
with the clinic.
several unsuccessful attempts to serve Ms. Queen with a
subpoena, State Farm was finally successful on March 27,
2019. The subpoena commanded Ms. Queen to appear for a
deposition on April 24, 2019 and to bring with her certain
documents. At the request of Ms. Queen's attorney, State
Farm agreed to reschedule the deposition to a date and
location convenient to Ms. Queen, her lawyer, and her Russian
interpreter. On May 7, 2019, State Farm served two new
subpoenas, one seeking responsive documents within 14 days
and the other directing Ms. Queen to appear for a deposition
on May 30, 2019. Rather than comply with the subpoenas, Ms.
Queen filed a motion to quash because the discovery sought is
irrelevant and it otherwise constitutes an undue burden.
APPLICABLE PRINCIPLES AND LAW
Rule of Civil Procedure 45 provides that a subpoena must be
modified or quashed if it “requires disclosure of
privileged or other protected matter” or
“subjects a person to [an] undue burden.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(3); see also Wiwa v. Royal Dutch
Petroleum Co., 392 F.3d 812, 817-18 (5th Cir. 2004)
(“Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45, a court may
quash or modify a subpoena if it (1) fails to allow a
reasonable time for compliance; (2) requires a person who is
not a party to travel more than 100 miles from where the
person resides; (3) requires disclosure of privileged or
protected matter; or (4) subjects a person to undue
burden.”) (footnote omitted). “Whether a
burdensome subpoena is reasonable ‘must be determined
according to the facts of the case,' such as the
party's need for the documents and the nature and
importance of the litigation.” Wiwa, 392 F.3d
818 (quoting Linder v. Dep't of Def., 133 F.3d
17, 24 (D.C. Cir. 1998)).
determine whether a subpoena imposes an undue burden, courts
must consider at least six factors:
(1) [the] relevance of the information requested; (2) the
need of the party for the documents; (3) the breadth of the
document request; (4) the time period covered by the request;
(5) the particularity with which the party describes the
requested documents; and (6) the burden imposed. Further, if
the person to whom the document request is made is a
non-party, the court may also consider the expense and
inconvenience to the non-party.
Wiwa, 392 F.3d at 818. As part of this inquiry,
“[a] trial court has broad, but not unlimited,
discretion in evaluating the circumstances of a case when
considering quashing a subpoena on grounds of oppressiveness.
It must carefully examine the circumstances presented to it
and, when appropriate, consider the possibility of modifying
the subpoena rather than quashing.” Northrop Corp.
v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 751 F.2d 395, 403 (D.C. Cir.
26(c) allows the issuance of a protective order if
‘good cause' is shown. In addition to requiring
good cause, this circuit has also required the district court
to balance the interests of those requesting the order. A
‘district court must articulate its reasons for
granting a protective order sufficient for appellate
review.”' McCarthy v. Barnett Bank of Polk
Cty., 876 F.2d 89, 91 (11th Cir. 1989) (citations
omitted); see also Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Southeast
Floating Docks, Inc., 231 F.R.D. 426, 429-30 (M.D. Fla.
2005) (“Rule 26(c) provides that upon a showing of good
cause, a court ‘may make any order which justice
requires to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.'
The party seeking a protective order has the burden to