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Crissen v. Gupta

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

April 14, 2014

JOSHUA B. CRISSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
VINOD C. GUPTA, SATYABALA
v.
GUPTA, WIPER CORPORATION, and VIVEK
v.
GUPTA, Defendants.

ORDER

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

Presently pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss or for Other or Further Sanctions for Violation of Protective Order (the "Sanctions Motion") filed by Defendants Vinod Gupta, Satyabala Gupta, and Wiper Corporation ("Wiper") (collectively, "the Gupta Defendants"), [Filing No. 195]. The Court held a hearing on the pending Sanctions Motion on February 28, 2014.

I.

BACKGROUND

On June 19, 2013, the Court entered a Protective Order submitted by Plaintiff Joshua Crissen. [Filing No. 47.] On September 23, 2013, after several discovery disputes arose, Vinod Gupta filed a Motion for Protective Order, in which he argued that he should not be required to respond to certain requests for production because, among other reasons, Barrett Rochman, the father of Jesse Rochman who is one of Mr. Crissen's attorneys in this case, is Mr. Gupta's business competitor. [Filing No. 115.] Mr. Gupta argued that any value in Mr. Crissen obtaining the requested information was "heavily outweighed by potential prejudice to Mr. Gupta if this information is ultimately released to Gupta's business competitors." [Filing No. 115, at ECF pp. 2-3.] The Magistrate Judge granted the motion in part and denied it in part on November 7, 2013, and the pending Sanctions Motion, [Filing No. 195], relates to a portion of the Magistrate Judge's November 7, 2013 Order which amended paragraph 8(b) of the Protective Order to read:

Other than Court personnel (including court reporters), access to Protected Material shall be limited to:
* * *
(b) Counsel of record for the named parties - except for Jesse Rochman - and staff (clerical, secretarial and paralegal) employed by said counsel....

[Filing No. 47, at ECF p. 3; Filing No. 148, at ECF pp. 6-7.]

The Protective Order defines "Protected Material" as "non-public confidential documents, proprietary trade information or documents that raise a privacy concern, which documents or information are so designated in good faith by any party to the Crissen Litigation." [Filing No. 47, at ECF p. 1.] It further provides that "[t]o the extent that any document produced or filed by any party or person in the Crissen Litigation contains Protected Material, the disclosing, producing or filing party may designate the pages containing the Protected Material by marking the words "CONFIDENTIAL - SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER" or similar words which clearly indicate the document is being treated as confidential on the face of the original of the document and each page so designated, or on the face of the photocopy of the document delivered by the disclosing party or person to the party to which the document is produced, and on the photocopies of each page so designated." [Filing No. 47, at ECF p. 2.]

The Magistrate Judge articulated the reasons for excluding Mr. Rochman from having access to Protected Material as follows:

At the very least, Barrett Rochman operates a competing business, and his shadow over the litigation is palpable, if only because his son is representing Plaintiff. While the Court appreciates Plaintiff's confidence in the existing protective order and the Court's ability to enforce it, the Court finds that the circumstances warrant some additional measure protecting Vinod's financial and proprietary information against disclosure to Barrett Rochman. At the same time, Vinod's financial records strike the Court as potential sources of information relevant to the questions of whether, and in what amount, Vinod incurred notice and title expenses and compensated his son for providing those services. While it might be appropriate to add an additional layer of protection, to render these documents wholly undiscoverable would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

[Filing No. 148, at ECF p. 6.][1]

On December 13, 2013, Banco Popular produced documents on a disk that included "certain of Mr. Gupta's personal income tax returns, personal financial statements and other personal financial information that were in the bank's files and apparently utilized in underwriting Mr. Gupta's line of credit with the bank. Some of those documents are the subject of Mr. Gupta's pending [Objection]." [Filing No. 196, at ECF p. 9.] On December 18, 2013, after the Magistrate Judge had modified the Protective Order to prevent Mr. Rochman from reviewing Protected Material, in part of a string of emails regarding whether Banco Popular could produce a blank loan application like the one the Guptas would have completed, Mr. Rochman sent an email to counsel for Banco Popular which discussed his reason for requesting the blank application. [Filing No. 196-3, at ECF pp. 5-6.] He stated "I have also started reviewing the most recent production from [Banco Popular]. Section 4... looks to be the section containing the Gupta's financial statements, but it does not appear any financial statements were produced. Is [Banco Popular] producing the financial statements?" [Filing No. 196-3, at ECF p. 6.] The next day, counsel for Banco Popular copied counsel for the Gupta Defendants on his email string with Mr. Rochman, stating "I think your primary dispute here is with Guptas, who obtained the original protective order. I'm going to defer to their counsel (now copied on this email) to respond to you on this issue." [Filing No. 196-3, at ECF p. ...


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