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V5 Techs. v. Switch, Ltd.

United States District Court for the District of Nevada

March 3, 2020, Decided; March 3, 2020, Filed

Case No. 2:17-cv-2349-KJD-NJK

Opinion

ORDER

Before the Court is defendant Switch, LTD.'s Objection/Appeal to Magistrate Judge Koppe's Order on Switch's Motion to Compel Discovery (ECF No. 165) to which plaintiff, V5 Technologies, LLC d/b/a Cobalt Data Centers, responded (ECF No. 169). Following Cobalt's response, Switch moved for leave to file a reply (ECF No. 172) to which Cobalt responded and conditionally requested leave to file a sur-reply (ECF No. 178). The Court has performed a de novo review of the magistrate judge's order under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and LR IB 3-1 and finds that her ruling is not clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Therefore, the Court ADOPTS and AFFIRMS Magistrate Judge Koppe's order but will briefly address Switch's argument that the order is contrary to law based on Cobalt's improper deposition objections. The Court will also resolve Cobalt's competing request for attorney fees.

This discovery dispute arises out of Switch's attempts to determine the extent to which a third-party is funding Cobalt's lawsuit. Switch has attempted to discover the identity [*3]  of the third-party throughout the discovery process. It has requested the retainer agreements between Cobalt and its law firms as well as any other document that would shed light on who is paying Cobalt's bills. Switch has also tried to uncover the information during depositions of Cobalt's witnesses. During those depositions, Switch asked witnesses if they knew how this lawsuit was financed and who was funding it. Cobalt's counsel repeatedly instructed witnesses not to answer Switch's questions. Counsel has also refused to provide Switch the requested retainer agreements and other financial documents. Cobalt believes it is under no obligation to produce third-party financing information because the information is irrelevant to the parties' claims or defenses and is otherwise shielded by the attorney-client privilege. Switch disagreed and moved to compel production of those documents. Switch also moved to compel Cobalt's witnesses to answer Switch's deposition questions.

Magistrate Judge Koppe denied Switch's motion. She found that this case does not fall into the narrow category of cases where third-party funding information is relevant to the parties' claims and defenses. See M.J. [*4]  Order 7, ECF No. 160. Because the information was not relevant, Switch was not entitled to an order compelling production of those documents.1 Switch's request to compel deposition testimony met the same obstacle. Because the third-party funding information was not relevant, Switch was not entitled to additional deposition testimony. The order did not excuse Cobalt's instruction to witnesses not to answer depositions questions based on relevance. Id. at 10. To the contrary, Magistrate Judge Koppe found that Cobalt's instructions not to answer questions was improper. Id. However, Switch was not entitled to the third-party funding information as a remedy. In short, Magistrate Judge Koppe refused to compel production of irrelevant information even though it was improper for Cobalt to refuse to answer those questions. This appeal followed.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36997 *; 2020 WL 1042515

V5 TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, d/b/a/ COBALT DATA CENTERS, Plaintiff, v. SWITCH, LTD., et al., Defendants.

CORE TERMS

magistrate judge, discovery, deposition, questions, third-party, contrary to law, witnesses, funding