Case of the Day: Plastech Holding Corp. v. WM Greentech

The case of the day is Plastech Holding Corp. v. WM Greentech Automotive Corp. (E.D. Mich. 2016). PHC sued WM Industries Corp., GreenTech Automotive Corp., and GreenTech Automotive Inc. JAC Motors, a non-party, sought to intervene in the case, but PHC opposed its motion, because the contract between JAC and PHC had an agreement calling for arbitration in Hong Kong. The motion for leave to intervene was allowed, and PHC amended its complaint to state a claim against JAC. PHC then served notices for depositions of eleven JAC witnesses who resided in Taiwan. The notices called for the depositions to take place in Michigan.

Ordinarily depositions of a defendant take place where the witness is located. The twist in this case is that JAC was not in the case involuntarily but rather on its own initiative as an intervenor. But the judge rejected this reasoning:

Nevertheless, as practical matter, JAC Motors was faced with a difficult decision—either continue to be subjected to arbitration in Hong Kong, or try to directly protect its relationship with GreenTech, which would likely be impacted by this lawsuit. Given JAC Motors’ technical status as an added party and the economic realities that brought that about, JAC Motors’ aborted intervention does not overcome the presumption that the depositions should occur where the witnesses are located.

I find this unpersuasive. Sure, JAC had very good reasons to seek to intervene in the lawsuit, but that’s true of any plaintiff, and the basic presumption for plaintiffs is that they have to be deposed in the district where the action was brought. That being said, the decision was within the judge’s discretion.

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