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Calcor Space Facility v. Superior Court

Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three

February 28, 1997, Decided

No. G020021.


 [*218]  [**569]   RYLAARSDAM, J. 

We hold ] a subpoena under [***2]  Code of Civil Procedure section 2020, subdivision (d) (all further statutory references are to the Code of Civil Procedure) must describe the documents to be produced with reasonable particularity. Generalized demands, insupportable by evidence showing at least the potential evidentiary value of the information sought, are not permitted. ] When responding to a motion for a protective order, the party seeking such discovery must supply evidence demonstrating a reasonable relationship between the materials sought to be produced and the issues  [*219]  involved in the case. We therefore issue a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate orders compelling a nonparty to produce materials in response to a subpoena describing generalized broad categories of materials rather than specific documents or, at least, categories of documents or materials which are reasonably particularized in relation to the manner in which the producing party maintains such records.


Delco Systems Operations contracted with Rockwell International to supply trainable gun mount systems (gun mounts). Delco, in turn, contracted with Thiem Industries, Inc., to produce some of these gun mounts. The [***3]  contracts required the gun mounts be manufactured in accordance with designated specifications. The marriage between Delco and Thiem was not a happy one. Delco claimed Thiem failed to meet the specifications and ultimately refused to accept the gun mounts. Instead Delco contracted with Calcor Space Facility, Inc., to supply the mounts. Not surprisingly, litigation resulted.

Thiem sued Delco on various theories, in essence contending Delco failed to adequately coordinate and manage the project and failed to provide Thiem with adequate and timely engineering information. Delco's cross-complaint followed. It also asserted various theories, contending Thiem failed to meet the specifications and otherwise delivered defective gun mounts.

In the course of the litigation, Thiem served a subpoena under section 2020 on Calcor's custodian of records demanding Calcor, a nonparty and Thiem's competitor, to, in effect, produce all materials in its possession relating to gun mounts, going back nearly 10 years. The subpoena fails to identify any specific document but merely describes broad categories of documents and other materials. The categories of materials to be produced are described in [***4]  an attachment to the subpoena which runs some twelve pages, including almost three pages of "definitions" and another three pages of "instructions." Typical of the scope of the demand is the so-called definition of "documents" and "writings," which itself runs almost a page and which includes such items as "business records, orders, invoices, statements, bills, books of account, ledgers, books, circulars, brochures, advertisements, bulletins, instructions, minutes, diaries, calendars, logs, schedules, drawings, photographs, charts, statistical, accounting, and financial statements, workpapers, notebooks, data sheets and every tangible thing produced by handwriting, typewriting, printing, . . . and all such data or information stored on computer-related media, . . ."

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53 Cal. App. 4th 216 *; 61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 567 **; 1997 Cal. App. LEXIS 161 ***; 97 Cal. Daily Op. Service 1618; 97 Daily Journal DAR 3023

CALCOR SPACE FACILITY, INC., Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF ORANGE COUNTY, Respondent; THIEM INDUSTRIES, INC., et al., Real Parties in Interest.

Subsequent History:  [***1]  Counsel Amended March 7, 1997. Review Denied May 28, 1997, Reported at: 1997 Cal. LEXIS 3252.

Prior History: Original proceedings; petition for a writ of mandate/prohibition to challenge an order of the Superior Court of Orange County, H. Super. Ct. No. 749355. Warren Siegel, Judge.

Disposition: Let a writ of mandate issue directing the trial court to vacate its order compelling Calcor to produce documents, to serve a privilege log and to serve responses. This order is without prejudice to Thiem serving Calcor with a proper subpoena duces tecum under section 2020 and without prejudice to Calcor subsequently contesting the propriety of such subpoena. The alternative writ is discharged and this court's stay order is dissolved. Thiem shall pay Calcor's costs.


discovery, documents, mounts, subpoena, gun, nonparty, specifications, particularity, instructions, definitions, parties, records, pages, gun mount, burdens, fishing, orders, deposition, requests, demands, trial court, interrogatories, expeditions, burdensome, contracted, generality, drawings

Civil Procedure, Discovery, Methods of Discovery, Inspection & Production Requests, Discovery & Disclosure, Subpoenas, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, General Overview, Protective Orders, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Undue Burdens in Discovery, Criminal Law & Procedure, Miranda Rights, Self-Incrimination Privilege, Custodial Interrogation, Requests for Admissions, Depositions, Oral Depositions, Relevance of Discoverable Information, Interrogatories, Format & Number of Interrogatories