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JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. IDW Group

May 20, 2009

JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE IDW GROUP, LLC, AND PATRIK EDSPARR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul G. Gardephe, U.S.D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

Before this Court are applications from Plaintiff JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("JPMorgan") and Defendant The IDW Group, LLC ("IDW") seeking to compel certain discovery. IDW requests that JPMorgan provide: (1) meaningful calculations of its purported damages; (2) documents concerning JPMorgan's decision to close its Proprietary Positioning Group in 2008; and (3) documents relating to JPMorgan's dealings with other executive search firms. JPMorgan requests that IDW provide documents that relate or refer to: (1) ex-JPMorgan employees' responsibilities and/or terms and conditions of employment with Citadel or other entities; (2) the "extra-contractual" relationship between JPMorgan and IDW; and (3) confidential information that any JPMorgan employee or customer provided to IDW between February 1, 2007 and the commencement of this lawsuit.

For the reasons stated below, IDW's first and second requests are granted; IDW's third request is denied; JPMorgan's first and second requests are granted in part and denied in part; and JPMorgan's third request is granted.

DISCUSSION

I. APPLICABLE LAW

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense" and that "[r]elevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. 26(b)(1). "This obviously broad rule is liberally construed." Daval Steel Prods. v. M/V Fakredine, 951 F.2d 1357, 1367 (2d Cir. 1991) (citing Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351, 98 S.Ct. 2380, 2389 (1978)). "In general, limitations on discovery are imposed only where the requested discovery is 'sought in bad faith, to harass or oppress the party subject to it, when it is irrelevant, or when the examination is on matters protected by a recognized privilege." Melendez v. Greiner, No. 01 Civ. 7888 (SAS) (DF), 2003 WL 22434101, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2003) (quoting In re Six Grand Jury Witnesses, 979 F.2d 939, 943 (2d Cir. 1992)).*fn1 See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C) (requiring courts to limit frequency or extent of discovery: (i) that "is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive"; (ii) where "party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action"; or (iii) where "burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit").

"Further, where a party resists discovery of certain information, the burden is on that party to clarify and explain precisely why its objections are proper." Melendez, 2003 WL 22434101, at *1.*fn2 "General and conclusory objections as to relevance, overbreadth, or burden are insufficient to exclude discovery of requested information." Id.

II. DISCOVERY THAT IDW SEEKS TO COMPEL FROM JPMORGAN

A. Meaningful Calculations of JPMorgan's Purported Damages

IDW seeks to compel JPMorgan to provide meaningful calculations of its purported damages in response to IDW Interrogatory No. 17, which requests that: plaintiff provide an itemized list of all damages JPMorgan claims to have suffered as a result of defendant's allegedly unlawful actions, as well as the manner in which such amounts were calculated, the documents that support or relate to each amount claimed by plaintiff, and the identity of each person with knowledge of damages described by plaintiff. (IDW Ltr. 1)

JPMorgan responds that it "will provide a computation as to each claimed category of damages and identify the documents relied upon in making that computation within five (5) business days of the production of [certain] information and documents by IDW."*fn3 (Pltf. Opp. 3)

Local Civil Rule 33.3(a), however, requires JPMorgan to respond to this interrogatory based on the information presently available to it. "Local Rule 33.3(a) provides in part that interrogatories directed to 'the computation of each category of damage alleged' are allowed at the commencement of discovery." In re Veeco Instruments, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 05 MD 1695 (CM) (GAY), 2007 WL 274800, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 29, 2007) (quoting Local Civ. R. 33.3(a)). In In re Veeco, the court directed the lead plaintiff to respond to interrogatories regarding loss causation and damages "based on the information available to it" and permitted the lead plaintiff to "supplement said responses as . . . appropriate after expert discovery." Id. See Shamis v. Ambassador Factors Corp., 34 F. Supp. 2d 879, 894 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (finding damages interrogatory "within the express purview of Local Rule 33.3(a)" where interrogatory requested plaintiff to, "[w]ith respect to each category of damages alleged to have been incurred by plaintiff, set forth the basis for the calculation of damages in that category [and] [i]dentify any and all documents that support and form the basis of this calculation").

As in Shamis, IDW Interrogatory No. 17 falls "within the express purview of Local Rule 33.3(a)." Id. Accordingly, "based on the information available to it," In re Veeco, 2007 WL 274800, at *2, JPMorgan must provide IDW with a meaningful calculation of its alleged damages, including the "manner in which such amounts were calculated," "the documents that support or relate to each amount claimed," "and the identity of each person with knowledge of damages described" by JPMorgan in its First Amended Complaint. (IDW Ltr. 1 (quoting Interrog. No. 17)) Should JPMorgan subsequently ...


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