United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO QUASH [DOC.
H. Rankin United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Quash
Subpoena of American Association of Professional Landmen,
Inc. (AALP), a nonparty, alleging that the subpoena seeks
irrelevant and protected subject matter which warrants the
Court's protection [Doc. 99]. Having considered the
Motion, and Plaintiff's Response, the Court finds as
action concerns an oil and gas lease governing approximately
forty acres in Lea County, New Mexico (the
“Lease”). According to Plaintiff, Defendant
became the lessee of the property in question in November
2016. Shortly thereafter, Defendant transferred its interest
in the Lease to Black Mountain Oil and Gas, LLC (Black
Mountain), through an Assignment, which was authorized by
Defendant's Senior Vice President and General Counsel,
Mr. Brian Coker. However, the Assignment was never properly
executed because of a notary error. In July 2017, Black
Mountain allegedly assigned its interest in the lease to
Plaintiff, including the rights to claims against Defendant
under the Ozark-Black Mountain Assignment. Unbeknownst to
Plaintiff and Black Mountain, Plaintiff contends that
Defendant assigned its purported interest in the Lease to Tap
Rock, LLC, in November 2017. Plaintiff now seeks to recover
for slander of title, breach of contract of the covenant of
good faith and fair dealing, breach of warranty, and, in the
alternative, breach of contract as successor-in-interest.
Plaintiff informed Defendant of its intention to serve a
subpoena on the AAPL, a non-party to this action. It is
undisputed that Plaintiff's motive for the subpoena is to
seek all documents and communication related to Mr.
Coker's employment with and subsequent expulsion from
AAPL, alleging that his expulsion was for behavior similar to
the actions alleged in this suit. (See ECF No. 99).
Plaintiff's subpoena was issued accordingly in the United
States District Court of New Mexico on September 30, 2019.
now seeks to quash the subpoena in its entirety, asserting it
requires AALP to disclose documents and other information
that is irrelevant, inadmissible, and confidential [Doc.
Defendant also asserts it possesses the required standing to
object to the subpoena on the grounds that it has a personal
right or privilege in the subject matter sought by the
subpoena because of its potential to reveal information of
both Defendant's financial affairs and employment
Response, Plaintiff objects to Defendant's Motion and
requests it be denied in full [Doc. 105]. Plaintiff states
the subpoena seeks evidence relevant to its claim for
punitive damages, and argues the federal rules governing
discovery do not require evidence sought to be admissible.
Plaintiff also argues that Defendant's vague statements
regarding protected or confidential subject matter fails to
meet its burden of proof in this regard. Finally, Plaintiff
contends this Court lacks jurisdiction to quash or modify the
subpoena because it is not the court where compliance is
well recognized that “[a] rule 45 subpoena is the
proper and only method to conduct discovery of a
nonparty.” Landry v. Swire Oilfield Servs.,
LLC, 323 F.R.D. 360, 397-98 (D. N.M. 2018). Generally,
when a subpoena is served on a non-party, a party to the suit
lacks standing to object. In re Capuccio, 558 B.R.
930, 933 (W.D. Okla. 2016). However, “[a]n exception to
the general rule occurs where the challenging party asserts
that a personal right or privilege with respect to the
material subpoenaed exists.” Id.
preliminary matter, however, the Court requested to quash a
subpoena must have jurisdiction to do so. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 45. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state
that “[o]n timely motion, the court for the district
where compliance is required” may quash or
modify a subpoena. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3) (emphasis added).
Required compliance is considered under the provisions of
Rule 45(c)(2), which provide that “[a] subpoena may
command the production of documents, electronically stored
information, or tangible things at a place within 100 miles
of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly
transacts business in person[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(2);
Id. (advisory committee notes to the 2013 Amendment)
(stating that “subpoena-related motions and
applications are to be made to the court where compliance is
required under Rule 45(c)”). These limitations serve to
protect nonparties from potential abuses. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 45 (advisory committee notes to the 2013
Amendment). Therefore, Rule 45 requires subpoenas “be
issued from the court where the action is pending, ”
while “the authority to quash or modify the subpoena
remains with the court for the district where compliance is
required.” Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. v. Premium
Beef Feeders, LLC, No. 13-CV-1168-EFM-TJJ, 2015 WL
3935726, at *1 (D. Kan. June, 262015) (internal quotations
“Rule 45(f) provides authority for [the] court [of
compliance] to transfer the motion to the court where the
action is pending.” Id. This rule applies to
all motions made under Rule 45. See Id. Only
“[a]fter transfer, [can] the court where the action is
pending  decide the motion.” Id. But,
“[a]ny such transfer [is] not initiated by the issuing
court.” Cargill, 2015 WL 3935726, at *1.
Therefore, where a subpoena-related matter is filed with the
issuing court and not the court where compliance is required,
the issuing court lacks jurisdiction to decide the matter.
See, e.g., id. (finding that the court
where compliance was required was the District Court in
Denver, Colorado, and no transfer had occurred, and holding
the District Court of Kansas lacked authority to rule on the
defendant's motion to quash).
of the Court
on the preceding, this Court does not have jurisdiction to
decide the subpoena-related matter at issue in
Defendant's Motion to Quash [Doc. 99]. The place of
compliance for the subpoena in question is within 100 miles
of where the AALP regularly conducts business in person.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(2). According to
Plaintiff's subpoena, the AALP regularly conducts
business in Dallas, Texas. Because Dallas, Texas, is
well-over 100 miles from this Court, it is without
jurisdiction to make substantive determinations regarding the
Motion. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(2). The proper
court to decide such issues is the court of compliance.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED Defendant Ozark Royalty Company,
LLC's Motion to Quash Subpoena of American Association of