United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING AS FRAMED
DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR PROTECTIVE ORDERS
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
this Court directed the parties to conduct limited discovery
on the nature and extent of defendant Community Health
Systems, Inc.'s minimum contacts with West Virginia as
they pertain specifically to the claims alleged in this civil
action dealing with personal jurisdiction. ECF No. 56.
Plaintiff Weirton Medical Center, Inc.
(“Weirton”) has since served Community Health
Systems, Inc. (“CHS”) with eleven
interrogatories, fifteen document requests, and a notice of
deposition of CHS's corporate representative under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6). Further, Weirton
served notices of depositions of defendants Robert Vento and
Quorum Health Resources, LLC (“QHR”), Stephen
Miller, Michael Rolph, Robert Lovell, Robert Vento, Daniel
Hamman, and John Waltko (collectively “the QHR
defendants”) filed a joint motion for a protective
order asking this Court to strike the notices of depositions
of Vento and Waltko, arguing that they are overly broad and
not proportional to the dispute. ECF No. 62. Alternatively,
the QHR defendants ask that this Court order the depositions
to be taken in Nashville, Tennessee where the deponents live.
then filed a separate motion for a protective order asking
this Court to strike the notice of deposition of its
corporate representative as to seven of the nineteen topics
listed by Weirton in the notice. ECF No. 64. CHS argues that
these seven topics are outside the scope of the ordered
limited discovery and are overly broad.
23, 2017, the parties appeared before this Court for oral
arguments on the defendants' motions. At the hearing,
this Court granted as framed the defendants' motions.
Specifically, this Court ruled that Weirton may conduct the
depositions of Vento, Waltko, and CHS's corporate
representative on matters within the scope of the ordered
limited discovery. Further, this Court adopted Weirton's
alternative request and ruled that the depositions of Vento
and Waltko shall be taken in Nashville, Tennessee. This Court
directed the parties to meet and confer to schedule those
depositions and to report to this Court the date on which
those depositions will be held. The parties have now
scheduled those deposition for July 6, 2017. This memorandum
opinion and order serves to confirm this Court's
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) permits parties to
“obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter
that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and
proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). In considering proportionality, courts must
consider: (1) “the importance of the issues at stake in
the action”; (2) “the amount in
controversy”; (3) “the parties' relative
access to relevant information”; (4) “the
parties' resources”; (5) “the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues”; and (6)
“whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Id.
“Information within this scope of discovery need not be
admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”
Id. This, of course, is limited by the express scope
of the limited discovery this Court previously ordered.
asserts three theories to establish this Court's personal
jurisdiction over CHS: (1) that CHS' subsidiaries CHSPSC,
LLC, QHR, and QHR Intensive Resources, LLC
(“QIR”), were jointly or severally agents of CHS
regarding the underlying dispute; (2) that CHS exercised
control over its subsidiaries such that their contacts should
be imputed to CHS; or (3) that CHS's agents otherwise
made contacts with West Virginia regarding the underlying
Virginia's long-arm statute, which is coextensive with
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, expressly
imputes an agent's contacts with West Virginia to the
agent's principal. W.Va. Code § 56-3-33. The West
Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has held that an
agent's contacts are imputed to its corporate principal.
Nezan v. Aries Techs., Inc., 704 S.E.2d 631, 641 (
W.Va. 2010). The court has also set forth a standard by which
a subsidiary's contacts may be imputed to a parent
corporation. Bowers v. Wurzburg, 501 S.E.2d 479, 490
( W.Va. 1998). Thus, the existence of a principal-agent
relationship and the nature of a parent-subsidiary
relationship may be relevant to determining whether a
corporation has minimum contacts with West Virginia.
this Court reaffirms the scope of the ordered limited
discovery to “the nature and extent of CHS's
contacts with West Virginia as they pertain specifically to
the claims alleged in this civil action.” ECF No. 56.
Based on the parties' arguments and proffers, issues
relevant to CHS's contacts with West Virginia include:
(1) any principal-agent relationships between the defendants;
(2) the nature of CHS's parent-subsidiary relationships
with CHSPSC, LLC, Quorum Health Resources, LLC, and QHR
Intensive Resources, LLC; and (3) any other minimum contacts
CHS may have with West Virginia relating to the claims
alleged in this civil action.
defendants argue that the depositions of Vento and Waltko are
unduly burdensome because those defendants were previously
deposed and provided live testimony in the parties' first
arbitration. Weirton argues that CHS's contacts with West
Virginia were not at issue in the first arbitration and were
not relevant there. Thus, Weirton argues that it is entitled,
pursuant to the ordered limited discovery, to question Vento
and Waltko regarding CHS's contacts.
indicated that it intends to question Vento and Waltko as to
the involvement of any CHS employees or agents in the
transactions between QHR or QIR and Weirton underlying this
civil action. Such testimony goes to the existence of any
principal-agent relationships between CHS and the QHR
defendants and any contacts of CHS agents with West Virginia.
Accordingly, this Court finds that Weirton is entitled to
depose Vento and Waltko within the scope of the ordered
limited discovery. However, as stated above, ...