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Agincourt Gaming, LLC v. Zynga, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 15, 2014

AGINCOURT GAMING, LLC, Plaintiff(s),
v.
ZYNGA, INC., Defendant(s).

ORDER TRANSFERRING SUBPOENA-RELATED MOTIONS (Docket Nos. 2, 14, 24)

NANCY J. KOPPE, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is a motion to quash subpoenas filed by non-party Respondents Bally Technologies ("Bally"), Brian M. Kelly, John G. Kroeckel, John E. Link, and Paul L. Hickman (the "Individual Respondents"). Docket No. 2. Defendant Zynga, Inc. filed a response in opposition and Respondents filed a reply. See Docket Nos. 8 (sealed response), 24-5 (redacted response), 10 (sealed reply), 20-24-31 (redacted reply). Also pending before the Court is Defendant's counter-motion to dismiss, transfer or compel. Docket Nos. 14 (sealed counter-motion), 24-5 (redacted counter-motion). Respondents filed a response in opposition and Defendant filed a reply. Docket Nos. 15 (sealed response), 24-31 (redacted response), 13 (sealed reply), 24-32 (redacted reply). Further pending before the Court is an omnibus motion to seal. Docket No. 24. The Court finds the issues presented properly decided without oral argument. See Local Rule 78-2. For the reasons stated below, the Court hereby ORDERS that the pending subpoena-related motions be transferred to the Northern District of California to the extent they relate to the Individual Respondents and further ORDERS that the pending subpoena-related motions be transferred to the District of Delaware to the extent they relate to Bally.

I. BACKGROUND

In February 2014, Zynga served subpoenas on Bally and the Individual Respondents pursuant to Rule 45. See, e.g., Docket No. 2, Exhs. 2-6.[1] Zynga is a Defendant in ongoing patent infringement litigation in the District of Delaware, Agincourt Gaming, LLC v. Zynga, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-00720-RGA ("Delaware action"). See Docket No. 2, Exh. 8. Bally and the Individual Respondents are not parties to the Delaware action. Bally is located in this District, and its subpoena required compliance in this District. See Docket No. 2, Exh. 2. The Individual Respondents reside and/or work in the Northern District of California, and their subpoenas required compliance in that District. See, e.g., Docket No. 2, Exhs. 3-6. Bally and the Individual Respondents initiated this proceeding in this Court by bringing a otion to quash the subpoenas, arguing that the subpoenas, inter alia, are unreasonably overbroad; seek irrelevant information; seek trade secret research, development, and commercial information without a showing of substantial need; and are otherwise unduly burdensome. See, e.g., Docket No. 2 at 7-11.[2]

Zynga responded to that motion by arguing that the subpoenas were proper, and that Bally and the Individual Respondents must comply with them. See, e.g., Docket No. 24-5 at 14-25. Zynga also brought procedural motions, including a counter-motion to transfer resolution of the subpoena-related motions to the District of Delaware pursuant to Rule 45(f) and a counter-motion to dismiss the subpoena-related motions with respect to the Individual Respondents. See id. at 10-14.

II. MAGISTRATE JUDGE AUTHORITY

The pending motions have been referred to the undersigned magistrate judge. Before turning to the merits of the pending motions, the Court evaluates its authority to decide them. The authority of the undersigned magistrate judge is derived from 28 U.S.C. § 636, which generally provides magistrate judges with the authority to "hear and determine" non-dispositive matters. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also S.E.C. v. CMKM Diamonds, Inc., 729 F.3d 1248, 1259 (9th Cir. 2013). By contrast, dispositive matters are sometimes referred to magistrate judges, but in those circumstances a magistrate judge submits a recommendation to the assigned district judge that is subject to the district judge's de novo review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); see also CMKM Diamonds, 729 F.3d at 1259-60.

The pending dispute falls within the gambit of non-dispositive matters properly determined by a magistrate judge. Magistrate judges are frequently tasked with resolving discovery disputes. See, e.g., Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Bunnell, 245 F.R.D. 443, 448 (C.D. Cal. 2007). More particularly, ruling on motions to quash subpoenas is normally a non-dispositive matter within the province of a magistrate judge's authority under Section 636(b)(1)(A). See, e.g., Hard Drive Prods., Inc. v. Does 1-188, 809 F.Supp.2d 1150, 1155 (N.D. Cal. 2011). Similarly, ruling on a request to transfer subpoena-related motions to another court is within the provision of a magistrate judge's authority under Section 636(b)(1)(A). See Chem-Aqua, Inc. v. Nalco Co., 2014 WL 2645999, *1 (N.D. Tex. June 13, 2014); see also Pavao v. Unifund CCR Partners, 934 F.Supp.2d 1238, 1241 n.1 (S.D. Cal. 2013) (collecting cases for transfers under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)). That subpoena-related motions come before the court in the context of a miscellaneous action based entirely on the disputed subpoenas does not alter that conclusion, even though the magistrate judge's resolution of the motions may be dispositive of the miscellaneous action. Feist v. RCN Corp., 2012 WL 4835038, *1 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 2012). Accordingly, the undersigned has the authority to resolve the subpoena-related dispute currently pending before the Court.

III. APPLICABLE VERSION OF RULE 45

Before the Court turns to the underlying dispute, it will first address another threshold issue of which version of the applicable rules govern its analysis. The Court's analysis in deciding disputes regarding subpoenas served on non-parties is governed by Rule 45. See, e.g., Paws Up Ranch, LLC v. Green, 2013 WL 6184940, *1 (D. Nev. Nov. 22, 2013). Significant changes were made to Rule 45 through the 2013 amendments, which went into effect on December 1, 2013. See Wultz v. Bank of China, Ltd., ___ F.R.D. ___, 2014 WL 2257296, *4 (D.D.C. 2013). "In its order adopting the - amendments to Rule 45, the Supreme Court specified the amendments would govern in all proceedings commenced after December 1, 2013, and, insofar as just and practicable, all proceedings then pending.'" Garden City Emps.' Retirement Sys. v. Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., 2014 WL 272088, *3 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 24, 2014).

In this case, the underlying Delaware patent infringement litigation was commenced on or about August 17, 2011, but the five disputed subpoenas were served in February 2014, and the miscellaneous proceeding in this Court challenging those subpoenas was initiated on May 6, 2014. Hence, the underlying patent infringement proceedings commenced prior to December 1, 2013, but the instant subpoena-related miscellaneous proceeding commenced after that date. The parties do not dispute that the Court should apply the current version of Rule 45 in these circumstances, and the Court finds it proper to do so.[3]

IV. INDIVIDUAL RESPONDENTS

Having resolved the above threshold issues, the Court turns to the motions pending before it. Four of the disputed subpoenas were issued to the Individual Respondents, and the Court will address the otions as to those subpoenas first.[4] Zynga argues that the Court lacks jurisdiction to decide the motion to quash as to these subpoenas. The Court agrees.

A. Standards

Both the previous and current versions of Rule 45 designate which court has jurisdiction to resolve motions to quash or modify subpoenas. The previous version of Rule 45 provided that the "issuing court" possesses jurisdiction to quash or modify subpoenas, see Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 45(c)(3) (2012), whereas the current version of the Rule provides that "the court for the district where compliance is required" has jurisdiction to quash or modify subpoenas, see Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 45(d)(3) (2014); see also Semex Alliance v. Elite Dairy Genomics, LLC, 2014 WL 1576917, *1 n.1 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 18, 2014). For subpoenas seeking the production of documents, the place of compliance must be "within 100 miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person." Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 45(c)(2)(A). Under the current version of the Rule, when a motion to ...


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