3103: Protective orders

Pascual v Rustic Woods Homeowners Assn., Inc., 173 AD3d 757 [2d Dept. 2019]

CPLR 3101 (a) requires, in pertinent part, “full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action.” However, the principle of “full disclosure” does not give a party the right to uncontrolled and unfettered disclosure (McAlwee v Westchester Health Assoc., PLLC, 163 AD3d 547, 548 [2018] [internal quotation marks omitted]; Ramirez v New York City Tr. Auth., 132 AD3d 653, 654 [2015]; Gilman & Ciocia, Inc. v Walsh, 45 AD3d 531, 531 [2007]).

Discovery demands are palpably improper where they seek irrelevant information, are overbroad and burdensome, or fail to specify with reasonable particularity many of the documents requested (see Jordan v City of New York, 137 AD3d 1084, 1084-1085 [2016]; H.R. Prince, Inc. v Elite Envtl. Sys., Inc., 107 AD3d 850, 850 [2013]; Matter of New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v Librizzi, 106 AD3d 921, 921 [2013]; Montalvo v CVS Pharm., Inc., 102 AD3d 842, 843 [2013]; Ural v Encompass Ins. Co. of Am., 97 AD3d 562, 566 [2012]). Where the discovery demands are overbroad, the appropriate remedy is to vacate the entire demand rather than to prune it (see Stepping Stones Assoc., L.P. v Scialdone, 148 AD3d 855, 856 [2017]; Berkowitz v 29 Woodmere Blvd. Owners’, Inc., 135 AD3d 798, 799 [2016]; Scorzari v Pezza, 111 AD3d 916, 916 [2013]; Bell v Cobble Hill Health Ctr., Inc., 22 AD3d 620, 621 [2005]).

Here, the discovery demands at issue were palpably improper in that they sought irrelevant information, or were overbroad and burdensome (see JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v Levenson, 149 AD3d 1053, 1055 [2017]; Diaz v City of New York, 117 AD3d 777, 778 [2014]; Kamanou-Goune v Swiss Intl. Airlines, 100 AD3d 968, 969 [2012]).

MPEG LA, L.L.C. v Toshiba Am. Info. Sys., Inc., 173 AD3d 611 [1st Dept. 2019]

The motion court providently exercised its discretion by denying the motion to compel the production of documents that have no bearing on the issues in this breach of contract action (see Andon v 302-304 Mott St. Assoc., 94 NY2d 740, 745 [2000]). Moreover, the court providently determined that some of the document requests were vague and overbroad (see e.g. Lerner v 300 W. 17th St. Hous. Dev. Fund Corp., 232 AD2d 249 [1st Dept 1996])

Kim & Bae, P.C. v Sunki Lee, 173 AD3d 990 [2d Dept. 2019]

Contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, the Supreme Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion in denying their motion to extend the time to complete discovery and to file the note of issue. Pursuant to CPLR 2004, “[e]xcept where otherwise expressly prescribed by law, the court may extend the time fixed by any statute, rule or order for doing any act, upon such terms as may be just and upon good cause shown, whether the application for extension is made before or after the expiration of the time fixed.” The grant of such an extension of time is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court (see Tewari v Tsoutsouras, 75 NY2d 1, 11 [1989]; Oliver v Town of Hempstead, 68 AD3d 1079, 1080 [2009]; Carota v Massapequa Union Free School Dist., 272 AD2d 428, 428 [2000]). In exercising its discretion, a court may consider such factors as the length of the delay, the reason or excuse for the delay, and any prejudice to the party opposing the motion (see Tewari v Tsoutsouras, 75 NY2d at 11-12; U.S. Bank N.A. v Adler, 148 AD3d 858 [2017]; Siracusa v Fitterman, 110 AD3d 1055, 1056 [2013]).

Here, the record supports the Supreme Court’s determination to deny the plaintiffs’ request for an extension of time. A motion for a protective order only stays disclosure of the particular matter in dispute, not all discovery (see CPLR 3103 [b]; Vandashield Ltd v Isaacson, 146 AD3d 552, 556 [2017]). Thus, by filing the motion for a protective order as to certain information, the plaintiffs were not relieved of the obligation to otherwise comply with the court’s August 21, 2015, order.

However, there was no record basis for the Supreme Court to direct that the plaintiffs are precluded from offering any evidence at trial. The order dated August 21, 2015, contained a directive conditionally precluding any party from testifying at trial if that party failed to appear for a deposition as set forth in that order. As a result of the plaintiffs’ respective failures to comply with the conditional order of preclusion, that conditional order became absolute upon the plaintiffs’ noncompliance with its terms, precluding the plaintiffs from testifying at trial (see Lee v Barnett, 134 AD3d 908, 909-910 [2015]; Julien-Thomas v Platt, 133 AD3d 824, 825 [2015]; Archer Capital Fund, L.P. v GEL, LLC, 95 AD3d 800, 801 [2012]). Although the plaintiffs are, by virtue of the August 21, 2015, order, precluded from testifying at trial, that order, by its terms, does not prevent the plaintiffs from providing other evidence. No other ground for the court’s determination to prevent the plaintiffs from providing any evidence at trial appears in the record (cf. CPLR 3126). Accordingly, we modify the order appealed from by deleting so much of the order entered April 21, 2016, as directed that the plaintiffs are precluded from offering any evidence at trial.

Pursuant to CPLR 3103 (a), a court may issue a protective order denying, limiting, conditioning, or regulating the use of any disclosure device, in order “to prevent unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment, disadvantage, or other prejudice to any person or the courts.” The supervision of disclosure and the setting of reasonable terms and conditions rests within the sound discretion of the trial court and, absent an improvident exercise of discretion, its determination will not be disturbed (see Noy v Noy, 160 AD3d 887 [2018]; AAA Vascular Care, PLLC v Integrated Healthcare Mgt., LLC, 99 AD3d 642 [2012]; Spodek v Neiss, 70 AD3d 810 [2010]).

Here, the affidavit of the plaintiff Bong June Kim submitted in support of that branch of the plaintiffs’ motion which was for a protective order contained only conclusory assertions that confidentiality protection was necessary (see JPMorgan Chase Funding Inc. v Cohan, 134 AD3d 455 [2015]; Linderman v Pennsylvania Bldg. Co., 289 AD2d 77, 78 [2001]). Additionally, the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, disadvantage, or prejudice to warrant the issuance of a protective order (see CPLR 3103 [a]; Noy v Noy, 160 AD3d at 887-888). Accordingly, we agree with the Supreme Court’s determination in the order dated May 17, 2016, denying that branch of the plaintiffs’ motion which was for a protective order.

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