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AmSurg Holdings Inc. v. Anireddy

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 14, 2020

AmSurg Holdings Incorporated, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Divesh Anireddy, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Honorable Susan M. Brnovich, United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court are nonparty AmSurg L.L.C.'s (“AmSurg”) identically titled motions: “Motion by Non-Party Defendant AmSurg LLC to Modify Subpoenas Directed to Bank of America.” (Doc. 177, “Mot. 1”; Doc. 195, “Mot. 2”.) Both Defendants and AmSurg filed responsive pleadings to each motion. (Doc. 183, “Resp. to Mot. 1; Doc. 185, “Reply to Mot. 1”; Doc. 200, “Resp. to Mot. 2”; Doc. 201, “Reply to Mot. 2.) The Court held oral argument on January 13, 2020 and issues the following Order:

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant ECY and Plaintiff AmSurg Holdings, Inc. (“AmSurg Holdings”) entered into a joint venture in October 2005 to operate a surgery center in Yuma, Arizona called The Yuma AZ Endoscopy ASC, LLC (“Yuma Endo”). (Doc. 46 ¶¶ 15-16, “FAC”.) Among other things, the complaint alleges Defendants-including certain Yuma Endo board members appointed by ECY-breached fiduciary duties to the joint venture to aid the success of a newly established surgical center competing with Yuma Endo. (See generally FAC.) Plaintiff AmSurg Holdings' complaint survived Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 62), and discovery is ongoing. Plaintiff AmSurg Holdings is a wholly owned subsidiary of parent company and nonparty movant, AmSurg. (Mot. 2 at 1, n.1.)

         The AmSurg motions at issue share a factual nexus and are similarly argued. Broadly, the motions concern four subpoenas issued by Defendants to compel the production of financial records for specific Bank of America accounts. (See Doc. 122, “*4969 Subpoena”; Doc. 154, “*6372 Subpoena”; Doc. 174, “*6380 Subpoena”; Doc. 189, “Unredacted Accounts Subpoena”). Defendants issued the second subpoena to Bank of America in April 2019, seeking Yuma Endo records from AmSurg's Account No. *6372.[1] (See *6372 Subpoena.) AmSurg describes Account No. *6372 as a “concentration account” held to benefit over 200 affiliated ambulatory surgery centers (“ASC's”), including Yuma Endo, in which Plaintiff AmSurg Holdings holds an interest. AmSurg consolidates each ASC's finances into this account every evening, apparently to reduce banking fees otherwise unavailable to an individual ASC. (Mot. 1 at 2-3; Mot. 1, Exh. A ¶ 4, “Page Decl.”) AmSurg maintains they observe careful procedures-similar to those used for an attorney's trust account-to ensure accurate accounting for each ASC's finances. (Mot. 1 at 3; Reply to Mot. 2 at 2, n.1.) Upon receipt, Bank of America conveyed the *6372 Subpoena to AmSurg. Noting the subpoena sought records for account *6372 only as they related to Yuma Endo, AmSurg informed Bank of America that information relating to all ASC's other than Yuma Endo should be redacted. (Mot. 1, Exh. B ¶ 2, “Thompson Decl.”) Bank of America allegedly then consulted with Defendants, who agreed with the need for redactions, provided Bank of America review their appropriateness.[2] (Id. ¶ 3.) AmSurg then reviewed the 300, 000 pages of records associated with account *6372 and redacted all information not pertaining to Yuma Endo. (Id.) Following AmSurgs' redactions and Bank of America's subsequent review, Defendants received 10, 500 pages of records for *6372. (Id. ¶ 4.)

         Like the *6372 Subpoena, the third subpoena sought production of all records pertaining to Yuma Endo, but for a separate account-AmSurg L.L.C.'s Bank of America Account No. *6380.[3] (*6380 Subpoena.) Account *6380 functions similarly to *6372. As the “disbursement account” for the 200-plus AmSurg-affiliated ASC's, “[c]hecks, purchasing cards and ACH payments . . . are cut from this account.” (Mot. 1 at 3.) Account *6380 is subject to the similarly “vigilant” accounting practices used for *6372. (Id.) The fourth subpoena seeks production of unredacted records from *6372 and *6380.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(d)(3)(B)(i) permits a court to quash or modify a subpoena “[t]o protect a person subject to or affected by a subpoena” if the subpoena requires disclosing confidential commercial information. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(B)(i). “Ordinarily a party has no standing to seek to quash a subpoena to someone who is not a party to the action, unless the objecting party claims some personal right or privilege with regard to the document sought.” 9A Charles Wright & Arthur Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure, §2459 (3d ed. 2008). A party thus has standing to challenge a subpoena served on another entity only upon showing a personal right regarding the subject matter of the subpoena. See Blotzer v. L-3 Communications Corp., 287 F.R.D. 507, 509 (D. Ariz. 2012) (citing Delta Mech., Inc. v. Garden City Grp., Inc., No. 2:06-cv-01095 JWS, 2010 WL 2609057, at *2 (D. Ariz. 2010)).

         A subpoena issued under Rule 45 is subject to Rule 26's relevance standard. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(a), advisory committee's note to the 1970 Amendment (“[T]he scope of discovery through a subpoena is the same as that applicable to Rule 34 and other discovery rules.”); Exxon Shipping Co. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 34 F.3d 774, 779 (9th Cir. 1994) (applying both Rule 26 and Rule 45 standards to rule on a motion to quash subpoena); see also Xcentric Ventures, L.L.C. v. Borodkin, 934 F.Supp.2d 1125, 1144 (D. Ariz. 2013) (“Any information sought by means of a subpoena must be relevant to the claims and defenses in the underlying case. More precisely, the information sought must be reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence.”) (quotation omitted); Transcor, Inc. v. Furney Charters, Inc., 212 F.R.D. 588, 591 (D. Kan. 2003) (acknowledging courts consider whether the subpoena “is overly broad or seeking irrelevant information under the same standards set forth in Rule 26(b)” when addressing a motion to quash subpoena duces tecum).

         Rule 26, in turn, provides that “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense . . . . Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1); see also Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Productions, 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005) (“Relevant information for purposes of discovery is information ‘reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.'”) (quoting Brown Bag Software v. Symantec Corp., 960 F.2d 1465, 1470 (9th Cir. 1992)). “The mere ‘relevance' standard, however, does not apply to non-parties.” R. Prasad Indus. v. Flat Iron Envtl. Solutions Corp., No. CV-12-08261-PCT-JAT, 2014 WL 2804276, *2 (D. Ariz. June 20, 2014) (citing Dart Indus. Co. v. Westwood Chem. Co., 649 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1980) (“While discovery is a valuable right and should not be unnecessarily restricted . . ., the ‘necessary' restriction may be broader when a nonparty is the target of discovery.”)). “To obtain discovery from a nonparty, a party must demonstrate that its need for discovery outweighs the nonparty's interest in nondisclosure.” R. Prasad Indus., 2014 WL 2804276, *2.

         III. DISCUSSION

         AmSurg redacted all information in account *6372 not pertaining to Yuma Endo, emphasizing such information is confidential and beyond the subpoenas' scope. It seeks modification to reflect that understanding. Defendants complain “the documents are so heavily redacted that the production has been rendered nearly worthless.” (Thompson Decl. ¶ 5.) Instead, they seek unredacted disclosure of the complete records from accounts *6372 and *6380 regardless of connection to Yuma Endo. (Resp. to Mot. 2 at 4.) AmSurg wants to limit the subpoenas only to records related to Yuma Endo, or, alternatively, to tender copies of the records to a “mutually-agreeable, neutral third party qualified to perform an accounting of the accounts at issue.” (Reply to Mot. 2 at 5.) The question for the Court is whether the financial records of entities unrelated to this dispute are relevant and override AmSurg's interest in nondisclosure.[4]

         The Court weighs the relevance of the records sought against AmSurg's interest in nondisclosure. As mentioned previously, when considering a motion to quash, courts look to Rule 26 to define the permissible scope of discovery applicable to a Rule 45 subpoena. Brown v. Sperber-Porter, No. CV-16-02801-PHX-SRB, 2017 WL 10409840, at *2 (D. Ariz. Nov. 6, 2017). Rule 26 allows parties to obtain discovery on any non-privileged matter relevant to a party's claims or defenses. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). But the relevance standard does not apply to nonparties. R. Prasad Indus., 2014 WL 2804276, *2. Instead, a party's need for discovery must outweigh the non-parties' interest in non-disclosure. Id. Defendants argue disclosure of the unredacted records, including financial records of ASC's other than Yuma Endo in which AmSurg also holds an interest, is relevant to their claims and defenses. Specifically, Defendants contend their subpoenas for the unredacted records is required to identify: (1) all accounts where Yuma Endo funds were transferred; (2) the amount of Yuma Endo funds transferred; (3) whether Yuma Endo could finance necessary improvements from 2013-2018; (4) accounting inaccuracies and inconsistencies; and (5) the value of any benefit to AmSurg from unauthorized use of Yuma Endo funds. (Resp. to Mot. 2 at 11-12.) Although the above identifications can seemingly be made with access to the redacted records from *6372 and *6380, the Court does not confuse the information's necessity with its relevance.[5] (Cf. Mot. 2 at 2 (“Redacted versions of these records . . . provide information necessary to make these determinations.”)) Defendants do not adequately explain how the financial records of other ASC's or AmSurg generally- all non-parties to this matter-bear on calculating Yuma Endo's finances.[6]

         Defendants' argument concerning AmSurg's place in the “web of entities” associated with Plaintiff AmSurg Holdings is difficult to parse. (See Resp. to Mot. 2 at 7.) The contention that AmSurg Holdings is an “imposter” is central to Defendants counterclaims and defenses. (See Doc. 68 at ⁋ 30.) They now claim nonparty movant AmSurg is an unknown “affiliate entity of AmSurg Holdings belonging to a “web of AmSurg-related entities . . . part of a complex structure of entities that formed and merged with each other, or with other entities, since the formation of Yuma Endo.” (Resp. to Mot. 1 at 4.) AmSurg, however, clarifies repeatedly: “AmSurg . . . makes clear that it is the 100% owner of AmSurg Holdings.” (Reply to Mot. 1 at 3; Reply to Mot. 2 at 4). Seemingly, Defendants ask the Court to make a tenuous inference that because AmSurg may be part of ...


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