Law School Case Brief
Trask v. Olin Corp. - 298 F.R.D. 244 (W.D. Pa. 2014)
Discovery is broad, but it is not boundless. The Third Circuit recognized this maxim stating that although the scope of discovery under the Federal Rules is broad, this right is not unlimited and may be circumscribed. This Rule places two content-based limitations upon the scope of discovery: privilege and relevance. A party may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Additionally, Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C) provide that the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise permitted under the rules or by local rule shall be limited by the court if the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.
Wayne Trask, Beth Trask, and their minor child filed a products liability case against Defendant Olin Corporation involving an allegedly defective Winchester Model 94 firearm. During discovery, the court ordered Olin to produce a list of all prior incidents—regardless of the position of the hammer ***—involving a claim that a Model 94 discharged without a trigger pull, and to additionally produce all non-privileged documents relating to such prior events, as a result of the plaintiffs informal request for production. Olin filed a motion for reconsideration for this order.
In a product liability claim, it it proper for the the district court ask a party to produce a list of all prior incidents involving a claim that a Model 94 discharged without a trigger pull, and to additionally produce all non-privileged documents relating to such prior events?
The Court held that plaintiffs' informal requests for production were sufficient to form the basis of a motion to compel because although defendant had not been served with formal Request for Production, it was aware that plaintiffs sought to obtain documents of prior litigation and claims. The court noted that the plaintiffs were entitled to discovery of prior cases and claims regarding a Model 94 unintentionally discharging, regardless of the position of the hammer and that the plaintiffs were unable to obtain information on prior cases and claims through means other than discovery.
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