United States District Court, S.D. Florida
RAVI KADIYALA, individually, and as the assignee of CREDIT UNION MORTGAGE UTILITY BANC, INC., an Illinois corp., Plaintiff,
MARK JOHN PUPKE, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING THE PUPKE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
COMPEL [DE 1251 AS TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO
BETWEEN PLAINTIFF AND THE MILLER DEFENDANTS
William Matthewman United States Magistrate Judge
CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendants, Mark John
Pupke and Marie Molly Pupke's ("the Pupke
Defendants") Motion to Compel and to Overrule Objections
to Defendants' Second Request for Production
("Motion") [DE 125]. This matter was referred to
the undersigned by United States District Judge Kenneth A.
Marra. See DE 359. Plaintiff, Ravi Kadiyala
("Plaintiff) filed a response [DE 129], and no reply was
filed. The Court held a hearing on the Motion on July 25,
discovery dispute involves whether two remaining defendants
in a civil case can obtain a copy of a settlement agreement,
and related payment documents and correspondence, entered
into by two former co-defendants and the current Plaintiff.
Specifically, the Pupke Defendants seek to obtain the
settlement agreement, payment documents, and correspondence
between Plaintiff and John P. Miller and John P. Miller CPA,
P.A. ("the Miller Defendants")-a CPA and CPA firm
who allegedly previously did accounting work for various
entities which were used in the scheme to defraud. [DE 1, p.
3, para. 7-8]. The Pupke Defendants assert that the
settlement documents are relevant and proportional under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) as they pertain to
set-off, and also to bias and motive of the former defendant
John P. Miller. Both Plaintiff and the Pupke Defendants agree
that John P. Miller, CPA, will be a witness in this case.
Plaintiff asserts in response that the documents are
irrelevant and inadmissible.
Pupke Defendants' Motion [DE 125] pertaining to their
Second Set of Requests for Production directed at Plaintiff
initially sought to compel Plaintiffs responses to several
requests. However, at the July 25, 2019 hearing, the
parties' counsel represented that only requests for
production #1-4 remained at issue as the parties had resolved
all of the other disputes discussed in the Motion amongst
Pupke Defendants' requests for production #1-4
essentially seek the amount of the settlement between the
Miller Defendants and Plaintiff, the settlement agreement
itself, and copies of checks or correspondence. The Court
heard from the parties at the July 25, 2019 hearing and
orally directed Plaintiffs counsel to submit the disputed
documents to the Court for in camera, ex parte
review. The next day, on July 26, 2019, the Court entered its
written Order [DE 141] requiring that Plaintiff submit for
in camera, ex parte review the documents sought in
requests #1-4 of Defendants' Second Set of Requests for
Production. Plaintiff has submitted the documents as
required. The Court has carefully reviewed the documents
in camera. This matter is now ripe for review.
The Current Status of the Miller Defendants
Miller and John P. Miller CPA, P.A., were formerly defendants
in the instant case. Plaintiff originally sought damages of
"not less than 1.3 million dollars" against the
Miller Defendants and other co-defendants, jointly and
severally. [DE 1, pp. 18-19]. However, a Notice of Settlement
between Plaintiff and the Miller Defendants was filed on May
10, 2019. [DE 111]. Thereafter, on May 16, 2019, Plaintiff
filed a Stipulation for Order of Dismissal with Prejudice as
to the Miller Defendants [DE 114]. The Court then entered an
Order of Dismissal as to the Miller Defendants on May 31,
2019 [DE 116].
Documents Requested by the Pupke Defendants from
for production #1-4 seek copies of the settlement agreement
between the settling Miller Defendants and the current
Plaintiff; documents indicating the total amount of the
settlement to be paid; copies of all cancelled checks
connected to the settlement; and documents referencing the
date the settlement amount was paid or will be paid. [DE
Analysis and Discussion of Applicable Rules and
26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure defines the
scope of discovery as "any non-privileged 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, the parties' relative access to
relevant information, the parties' resources, the
importance of the discovery, and whether the burden of the
discovery outweighs the likely benefit. It is well
established that the courts must employ a liberal standard in
keeping with the purpose of the discovery rules. Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). However, Rule 26(b) allows discovery "through
increased reliance on the commonsense concept of
proportionality." In re: Takata Airbag Prod. Liab.
Litig., 15-2599-MD-Moreno, 2016 WL 1460143, at *2 (S.D.
Fla. Mar. 1, 2016) (quoting Chief Justice John Roberts, 2075
Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary 6 (2015));
Reuter v. Physicians Cas. Risk Retention Group, No.
16-80581-CV, 2017 WL 395242, (S.D. Fla. 2017).
"Proportionality requires counsel and the court to
consider whether relevant information is discoverable in view
of the needs of the case." Tiger v. Dynamic Sports
Nutrition, LLC, Case No. 6:15-cv-1701-ORL-41TBS, 2016 WL
1408098, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 11, 2016).
respondent bears the burden of establishing a lack of
relevancy or some other basis for resisting production."
Glatter v. MSC Cruises S.A., No. 18-62219-CIV, 2019
WL 1300896, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 7, 2019); see also
Broadbandone, Inc. v. Host.net, Inc., No. 12-80604-CIV,
2013 WL 12096358, at *l (S.D. Fla. May 30, 2013);
Dunkin' Donuts, Inc. v. Mary's Donuts, Inc.,
No. 01-0392-CIV-Gold, 2001 WL 34079319, *2 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 1,
2001). In other words, the respondent "must show either
that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the
broad scope of relevance as defined under Rule 26 or (2) is
of such marginal relevance that the potential harm occasioned
by discovery would far outweigh the ordinary presumption in
favor of broad disclosure." Jeld-Wen, Inc. v. Nebula
Glass Int'l, Inc., No. 05-60860-CIV, 2007 WL