Unclear Corporate Representative Topics Leads to Grant of Protective Order for Brake Manufacturer United States District Court, W.D. Washington, October 16, 2019

WASHINGTON – In a case extensively covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the defendant Pneumo Abex  filed a motion for protective order in reply to the plaintiff’s Third Amended Notice of 30(b)(6) deposition of Abex. The first 30(b)(6) notice identified 71 topics, and after a meet and confer, was whittled down to 34. Abex agreed to tender the witness for 32 of the 34 topics, and filed the instant motion.

The two disputed topics were:

  1. Abex’s corporate values and codes of conduct regarding the importance of the health and safety of individuals who came in contact with Abex’s asbestos-containing friction materials between 1960 and 1987
  2. Abex’s position, subjective beliefs, and opinions about the proper and reasonable conduct of a manufacturer and seller of asbestos-containing automotive products in the United States between 1960 and 1987

Abex argued that “these two topics are overbroad, unduly burdensome and lack particularity, are disproportionate to the needs of this case, improperly seek legal or expert testimony applying facts to policies, and are inconsistent with the court’s previous orders in the case. “Conversely, the plaintiff argued that the topics “do not improperly seek expert opinion” and “are not overbroad, lacking particularity, or unduly burdensome because they are limited by time [1960-1987], location [United States], product [asbestos friction material] and defendant [Abex].”

The court agreed with Abex, and found that both topics were “overbroad, vague, unduly burdensome, and inconsistent with the court’s previous orders in this case.” It was “substantially unclear” what was meant by the corporate values and codes of conduct of Abex, and Abex’s position and subjective beliefs of reasonable conduct of manufacturers. Therefore, Abex’s motion was granted.

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