• ALJ Bullock Rules On Motion To Compel In Certain Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (337-TA-739)
  • July 19, 2011 | Authors: Alexander B. Englehart; Eric W. Schweibenz
  • Law Firm: Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, L.L.P. - Alexandria Office
  • On July 7, 2011, ALJ Charles E. Bullock. issued the public version of Order No. 53 (dated June 28, 2011) in Certain Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-739).  In the Order, ALJ Bullock granted-in-part Respondent Zhejiang Trimone Electric Science & Technology Co., Ltd.’s (“Trimone”) motion to compel Complainant Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. (“Leviton”) to respond to certain interrogatories relating to Leviton’s domestic activities, respond to certain interrogatories and produce certain documents relating to Leviton’s foreign activities, and provide additional deposition testimony on Leviton’s foreign activities.

    According to the Order, Trimone argued that “Leviton has selectively produced information favoring its own theory of domestic industry, while denying Respondents the evidence need [sic] to advance their own arguments.”  In particular, with respect to the interrogatories relating to Leviton’s domestic activities, Trimone argued that Leviton had failed to provide the information requested, including, e.g., the nature of different Leviton employees’ domestic activities and the amount of time spent by each individual on these activities.  Trimone further argued with respect to one interrogatory in particular that the documents identified by Leviton in its response did not reveal the requested information and that the “burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer from the referenced documents is not substantially the same for Trimone as for Leviton.” (emphasis omitted).  With respect to the interrogatories and document requests relating to Leviton’s foreign activities, Trimone argued that Leviton’s responses were insufficient because they either referred only to non-responsive documents or were incomplete.  Lastly, with respect to the requested deposition testimony, Trimone argued that Leviton was improperly refusing to produce a witness on certain deposition topics relating to Leviton’s foreign activities on the purported basis that Trimone had already taken a deposition on domestic industry generally.  Trimone argued that it had not inquired about Leviton’s foreign activities during the domestic industry deposition because, at the time, Leviton’s allegations regarding domestic industry did not include foreign activities and it was not until after the deposition that Leviton produced “key documents” relating to the economic prong.

    In response, Leviton argued that it had fully responded to the interrogatories relating to its domestic activities and that it should not be compelled to provide the names of its employees because the names are irrelevant and Trimone failed to provide any reason why the names are relevant.  Leviton further argued that the information and documents requested by the interrogatories and document requests relating to its foreign activities were irrelevant and that Trimone had failed to show why it needed the information and documents.  Additionally, Leviton argued that Trimone’s motion should be denied because certain requests related to information upon which Leviton did not intend to rely in the investigation.  As to the requested deposition testimony, Leviton argued that its deposition witness on domestic industry had been prepared to discuss Leviton’s foreign activities and that Trimone had failed to either identify a single “key document” produced after the deposition or explain why these unidentified documents necessitated an additional deposition.

    The Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) argued that the scope of permissible discovery is broad and that Leviton should be ordered to supplement its responses to most of the interrogatories to the extent that the requested information has not already been provided.  With respect to two of the interrogatories, however, OUII argued that Leviton should not be compelled to respond because the burden of responding outweighed any potential benefit or relevance.  OUII also agreed with Leviton on the deposition issue, arguing that Trimone had already deposed a witness on domestic industry and had not shown good cause or a need for a second deposition.

    After reviewing the pleadings and arguments, ALJ Bullock determined to grant Trimone’s motion to compel as to the interrogatories relating to Leviton’s domestic activities.  In particular, ALJ Bullock found that Leviton, as the resisting party, had failed to show how the requested discovery was outside the scope of discovery contemplated by the Commission’s Rules and that “[a]n objection simply stating that the requested information is irrelevant or that the request is overbroad is not sufficient.”  As to the interrogatories and document requests relating to Leviton’s foreign activities, ALJ Bullock denied the motion with respect to one interrogatory as moot but granted the motion as to the remaining interrogatories and document requests.  ALJ Bullock again found that Leviton had failed to carry its burden of demonstrating that the information and documents sought were irrelevant or did not need to be produced due to any alleged burdensomeness to Leviton.  The ALJ also rejected Leviton’s argument that Trimone’s motion should be denied because Leviton did not intend to rely on the requested discovery.  With respect to the requested deposition testimony, ALJ Bullock agreed with Leviton and OUII and denied Trimone’s motion to compel after finding that  Trimone could have inquired about Leviton’s foreign activities at the original deposition on domestic industry, but had chosen not to do so.