Product Liability

Guiding Principles Governing Corporate Representative Depositions Law 30(b)(6)

Guiding Principles Governing Corporate Representative Depositions Law 30(b)(6)

South Florida Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman recently sanctioned a plaintiff for failing to properly prepare his 30(b)(6) witness for deposition in QBE Insurance Corporation v. Jorda Enterprises.[1] He also provided a useful, CliffsNotes-style guide to the current law interpreting 30(b)(6).

What makes this case significant from many sanction opinions, is that rather than simply issuing a sanction based on the facts of the case, Judge Goodman has taken it a step further.   In what appears to be a very helpful tool for all litigants, he provided a comprehensive, 39-point summary of what he terms the “guiding principles” governing corporate representative depositions in addition to his sanction opinion. These guiding principles, which Judge Goodman articulates beginning at 277 FRD 687, are fully supported by citations to the governing federal case law supporting each point.

These principles include many gems which litigants often overlook while addressing the 30(b)(6) process.  For example, Judge Goodman explains how despite the belief of many, 30(b)(6) does not require a corporation to produce a person “most knowledgeable” about the topics at issue. Rather, the corporation may produce any person it desires, even one with no personal knowledge whatsoever, as long as that person is prepared so that he or she may testify on matters “known or reasonably available” to the organization.

Judge Goodman’s summary also includes the scope and limits of the organization’s obligations in preparing witnesses, the sanctions which may be imposed for a failure to meet these obligations, and the extent to which the answers given, including the answer “I don’t know,” will bind the organization. This summary is a “must read” and an invaluable resource for anybody involved in the 30(b)(6) process.

[1] QBE Insurance Corporation v Jorda Enterprises[1], 277 FRD 676 (SD FL January 30, 2012)

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