Court Puts Phone Depositions On Do Not Call List In Marine Hose Antitrust Litigation
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has denied a motion by class action plaintiffs in the In re Marine Hose Antitrust Litigation case to take “trial depositions” of foreign-based witnesses by telephone, including corporate executives residing in Japan, France, and Italy.
The executives are employees of corporations that are in the process of settling the ongoing class action, which alleges an international price-fixing scheme in the marine hose industry. In their motion, plaintiffs claimed they only want to ask the executives questions regarding the authenticity of business records and summaries of U.S. sales figures. Plaintiffs argued that telephone depositions will save the settling defendants time and money and conserve judicial resources.
Not surprisingly, the non-settling defendants didn’t see it the same way. In their response, defendants argued that plaintiffs are seeking to reopen discovery, the deadline of which has already passed. Defendants also pointed out that plaintiffs had ample opportunity to ask such questions and had neglected to do so.
Defendants also looked outside of pretrial procedure, and U.S. law in general, for perhaps their most compelling objection. They cited to the U.S. State Department website, which indicates that Japan doesn’t allow telephone or video conference testimony. In addition, France and Italy require parties to seek the approval of government officials prior to taking testimony in their territories.
The court agreed with the defendants but did not venture into foreign law and procedure. In a two-page order, the court simply stated that the discovery deadline had passed. “The Plaintiffs knew that this testimony could be needed for use at trial, but failed to act within this Court’s schedule.” Accordingly, the plaintiffs will have to offer the testimony at trial, and the foreign executives will be making a trip soon to Miami.
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