United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Shawnetta Collins's motion to
compel a response to a subpoena served on Respondent
Management Services, a non-party to the underlying action.
(Doc. 1.) Management Services responded to the motion by
arguing compliance is unduly burdensome and seeks to quash or
modify the subpoena. (Doc. 2.) The Court, however, cannot
reach the merits of the motion because it lacks jurisdiction
over the matter. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion is
filed an action in the Northern District of Alabama against
Koch Foods, Inc., Koch Foods of Alabama, LLC, and Robert
Elrod. (Collins v. Koch Foods, Inc.,
2:18-CV-00211-ACA (N.D. Ala. Feb. 7, 2018).) On March 14,
2019, Plaintiff's attorney served non-party Management
Services a subpoena requiring the production of documents
related to Management Services' business relationship
with Koch Foods. (See Subpoena, Doc. 1-1.) The
subpoena erroneously listed the issuing court as the Middle
District of Alabama, instead of the Northern District of
Alabama where Plaintiff's case is pending. (Id.
at 2.) The subpoena was sent to Management Services'
address in Evans, Georgia, but required the requested
documents to be sent to Plaintiff's attorney's office
in Birmingham, Alabama. (Id.)
Services objected to the subpoena because it required
compliance more than 100 miles from its offices, it was
unduly burdensome to comply, and it requested confidential
and proprietary documents. (Mar. 27th Letter, Doc. 1-3.) In
an effort to resolve the dispute, counsel for Plaintiff
offered, via email, to allow Management Services to
electronically send the documents to a "local attorney
(100 miles from your office)." (May 13th Email, Doc.
1-4.) Management Services still did not comply with the
subpoena, choosing instead to stand by its objections that
compliance was unduly burdensome and the documents were
confidential and proprietary. (Id.)
3, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel a response to the
subpoena in this Court pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 45(d)(2)(B)(i). The motion makes only a fleeting
reference to this Court's jurisdiction to hear the matter
by stating that a motion to compel compliance with a subpoena
must be made in the court for the district where compliance
is required. (Mot. to Compel, Doc. 1, at 1.) Management
Services filed a response seeking to quash or modify the
subpoena because compliance is unduly burdensome and the
subpoena violates Rule 45's geographic limitations. (Doc.
federal court has both the power and the obligation to
inquire into its jurisdiction whenever there is a possibility
that jurisdiction does not exist. Fitzgerald v. Seaboard
Sys. R.R., Inc., 760 F.2d 1249, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985).
are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45, which
underwent substantial revisions in 2013. As amended,
"a subpoena must be issued by the court where the
underlying action is pending, but challenges to the subpoena
are to be heard by the district court encompassing the place
where compliance with the subpoena is
required." Woods ex rel. United States v.
SouthernCare, Inc., 303 F.R.D. 405, 406 (N.D. Ala. 2014)
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a)(2), (d)(3)(A)). A subpoena to
produce documents must specify the time and place where the
documents are to be provided. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a) (1) (A)
subpoenas seeking the production of documents, the place of
compliance must be "within 100 miles of where the person
resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in
person." Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(2)(A). The prevailing rule
across federal courts is that a subpoena's place of
compliance is the district where documents are to be
produced. See Westmore Equities, LLC v. Vill. Of
Coulterville, 2016 WL 695896, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Feb. 22,
2016) (the location where the subpoena commands the documents
be produced is the place where compliance is required);
Montgomery v. Risen, 2015 WL 12672704, at *1 (S.D.
Cal. Oct. 30, 2015) (same); Agri-Labs Holdings, LLC v.
TapLogic, LLC, 2015 WL 13655779, at *1 (N.D. Ind. Oct.
20, 2015) (same); Tomelleri v. Zazzle, Inc., 2015 WL
400904, at *2 (D. Kan. Jan. 28, 2015) (same); Brady v.
Lee, 2014 WL 12580025, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 29, 2014)
(same); Narcoossee Acquisitions, LLC v. Kohl's
Dep't Stores, Inc., 2014 WL 4279073, at *1 (M.D.
Fla. Aug. 28, 2014) (same); but see Europlay Capital
Advisors, LLC v. Does, 323 F.R.D. 628, 629 (CD. Cal.
2018) (court lacked jurisdiction to hear challenge to
non-party subpoena that was served in Northern District of
California but required productions of documents to law
firm's office in the Central District of California
because non-party was headquartered in the Northern District
of California). Despite some contrary authority, the Court
will follow the majority rule and concludes that the place of
compliance is the location the subpoena directs the documents
to be sent.
reaching this conclusion, the Court finds Agri-Labs
Holdings, 2015 WL 13655779, instructive. In that case, a
nonparty subpoena for documents was issued by the Northern
District of Indiana, was served on the non-party's
registered agent in the same district, and commanded the
production of documents to a law firm in McCordsville,
Indiana - a part of the Southern District of Indiana.
Id. at *1. The Northern District of Indiana found it
lacked jurisdiction over the challenge because the subpoena
required the documents to be produced in another district,
even though the subpoena was served within the Northern
District of Indiana. Id.
in Brady, 2014 WL 12580025, a non-party subpoena to
appear for deposition and produce documents was issued by the
Southern District of California to an individual in Miami
Beach, which is part of the Southern District of Florida.
Id. at *2. The subpoena required the documents to be
sent to Orlando, a city in the Middle District of Florida.
Id. The Southern District of Florida concluded the
place of compliance was in Orlando, and thus, the motion to
compel was filed in the wrong court. Id. The court
specifically noted that "because the subpoenas specify
that the place of compliance is Orlando, the fact that [the
non-party] was served in Miami Beach, Florida does not change
the place of compliance to the Southern District of
Florida." Id. at *2 n.4.
the location where the subpoena commands the documents be
produced as the place of compliance is further supported by
the Advisory Committee notes to Rule 45's 2013 amendment.
The comments regarding changes to Rule 45(c) defining place
of compliance states, "[u]nlike the prior rule, place of
service is not critical to place of compliance."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c) advisory committee's notes to 2013
the subpoena lists a Birmingham, Alabama address as the
location Management Services must send the requested
documents. Therefore, the place where compliance is required
is Birmingham, which is part of the Northern District of