• United States District Court for the District of Maryland Denies Protective Order Seeking Remote Deposition as Prejudicial to Opposing Parties and Without Good Cause
  • August 10, 2012
  • Law Firm: Semmes Bowen Semmes A Professional Corporation - Baltimore Office
  • Webb v. Green Tree Lending Servicing LLC, No. 11-2105 (D. Md. July 16, 2012)

    In Webb v. Green Tree Lending Servicing LLC, Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland denied a Motion for Protective Order by Plaintiff Sandy N. Webb (Plaintiff), which requested that her deposition be taken by telephone. The court found that Defendant Green Tree Servicing LLC (Green Tree) and Third Party Defendant Five Brothers Mortgage Company Services and Securing, Inc. (Five Brothers) were entitled to take Plaintiff’s deposition in-person and in the State of Maryland. The court based its ruling upon Plaintiff’s failure to make a showing of good cause, and that Green Tree and Five Brothers would be unfairly prejudiced by remotely deposing Plaintiff. Therefore, the court denied Plaintiff’s motion, and required Plaintiff to appear in Maryland for her deposition.

    Plaintiff, an attorney proceeding pro se, requested that the court issue a protective order requiring Green Tree and Five Brothers to take her deposition by telephone. Plaintiff lived in Oregon, and wanted to avoid travelling to Maryland to participate in her deposition. According to Plaintiff, Green Tree and Five Brothers failed to avail themselves of prior opportunities to depose Plaintiff. Plaintiff pointed out that she had already travelled to Maryland for the deposition of a witness and a settlement conference, and argued that she could not financially or logistically afford travelling to the state for her deposition as well. Plaintiff alleged that Green Tree and Five Brothers were trying to maximize the cost of the litigation as a deterrent to her continuing the suit. Accordingly, Plaintiff moved for a protective to order to be deposed by phone, but indicated a willingness to be deposed by live video feed.

    Both Green Tree and Five Brothers filed oppositions to Plaintiff’s motion. Green Tree argued that Plaintiff was required to attend her deposition in Maryland because she had brought her lawsuit in Maryland. Therefore, absent a showing of good cause, Plaintiff should be required to attend her deposition in her chosen forum state. Green Tree argued that Plaintiff’s proffered reasons for the protective order were conclusory because she failed to submit any facts or figures to support her claim that travel would be unduly burdensome. Furthermore, Green Tree argued that the expense of flying from Oregon to Maryland was minor when compared to the monetary relief Plaintiff was seeking. Five Brothers concurred in Green Tree’s arguments, and both Defendants argued that not having Plaintiff present, in-person, would be prejudicial to their cases.

    The court agreed with Green Tree and Five Brothers, and denied Plaintiff’s motion. The court looked to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), which permits a court to issue a protective order protecting a party from undue burden upon a showing of good cause. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). The court observed that the standard for good cause justifying a protective order is high, requiring more than broad assertions of harm to support a showing of good cause. In this case, the court found that Plaintiff’s conclusory statements of expending large sums of money failed to meet the high bar of showing good cause. The court also noted that Plaintiff selected Maryland as the forum for her suit; and therefore, she should have to attend her deposition in the state.

    Additionally, the court found that issuing a protective order would prejudice Green Tree and Five Brothers. The court found that Green Tree and Five Brothers made a particularized showing of prejudice in opposing Plaintiff’s request. Noting that both Green Tree and Five Brothers had numerous documents that they intended to use during Plaintiff’ deposition, the court found that remote deposition would be both difficult and ineffective. The court gave special consideration to the fact that the deposition at issue was that of the Plaintiff, noting that Plaintiff’s deposition would likely include many disputed facts. As a result, Green Tree and Five Brothers would be disadvantaged in not being able to observe Plaintiff’s demeanor during questioning. Accordingly, the court denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Protective Order.]