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Kantsevoy v. Lumenr LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 6, 2017

SERGEY KANTSEVOY, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
LUMENR LLC, Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff.


          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge

         This Memorandum addresses the Motion to Appeal (ECF 61) filed by Sergey Kantsevoy, M.D., plaintiff and counter-defendant, as to discovery rulings made by U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Gesner. It is supported by a Memorandum. ECF 61-1 (redacted); ECF 62 (sealed) (collectively, “Motion”). LumenR responded in opposition to the Motion. ECF 72 (redacted); ECF 70 (sealed) (collectively, “Opposition”). Kantsevoy replied. ECF 85 (redacted); ECF 86 (sealed) (collectively, “Reply”). No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny the Motion.

         I. Factual Background

         The facts set forth below are limited to those pertinent to the Motion.

         Dr. Kantsevoy is a gastroenterologist in Baltimore. ECF 1, ¶ 4. Defendant LumenR LLC (“LumenR”) is a medical device company, headquartered in California. Id. ¶ 5.[1] Kantsevoy filed suit against LumenR in February 2017, alleging breach of express and implied contracts and related claims. See ECF 1. Plaintiff alleges that he provided consulting and other services to LumenR with regard to the development and testing of a medical device, for which he has not been fully paid. Id. ¶¶ 14-20. According to Kantsevoy, LumenR agreed to provide him monetary compensation, as well as an equity stake in LumenR. Id. ¶ 12. LumenR contests, inter alia, the existence of the equity portion of the contract. ECF 12 (Answer and Counterclaims), ¶ 12.

         II. Discovery Dispute

         Part of the work for which Kantsevoy claims compensation is due and owing to him involved his completion of 50 evaluation forms and data sheets related to a clinical trial of a particular medical device. ECF 61-1 at 11. Kantsevoy alleges that this work took 45 hours, and that LumenR should compensate him at the rates agreed to in the alleged contract. Id.

         LumenR moved to compel production of these forms and data sheets (ECF 34-1), asserting that their content is relevant to the determination of the nature and adequacy of Kantesvoy's work under the alleged agreement. Id. at 8. Kantesvoy contested the request on several grounds. ECF 35 (sealed).[2] First, he contended that the information in the forms is irrelevant “or, in the alternative, disproportionate” to the case. Id. at 5-6. Second, he suggested that LumenR requested the data sheets so LumenR could turn them over to a third party, Boston Scientific, which had purchased the medical device in question from LumenR, in order to receive a substantial payment on its purchase contract. Id. at 8-9. He also raised concerns about the confidentiality of the patients' data contained in the data sheets. Id. at 5-6.

         In July 2017, I referred the case to Judge Gesner for resolution of discovery disputes. ECF 37. In an Order of July 26, 2017 (ECF 48), she credited both LumenR's contention as to the relevance of the documents and Kantsevoy's concern about the unauthorized disclosure of information. Id. at 5-6. As to the patient information, Judge Gesner noted that a Stipulated Confidentiality Order should be sufficient to protect sensitive data. Id. at 6. As to Kantsevoy's concern about disclosure of the forms to Boston Scientific, Judge Gesner recognized the risk as legitimate, but said that “without more, the court cannot conclude that the existence of the purchase agreement on its own justifies denying defendant access to highly relevant discovery.” Id. Thus, Judge Gesner ruled that Kantsevoy must produce the forms and data sheets, but that appropriate documents could be designated as confidential or for “attorneys' eyes only, ” in order to protect sensitive information. Id.

         Thereafter, Kantsevoy noted his appeal from Judge Gesner's ruling. ECF 61-1.[3] His objections on appeal tread the same ground as his earlier objections, though perhaps with heavier boots. In the Motion's “Factual Background” section, Kantsevoy discusses his concern that defendant will provide the forms to Boston Scientific (id. at 5-6), and he mentions this view again in his “Argument” section. Id. at 12. Similarly, plaintiff opposes the discovery because “electronic copies of [the private patient] data may be susceptible to cyber-attacks and accidental reproduction if produced in electronic format.” Id. at 2 n.4.

         In addition, Kantsevoy argues that the forms and data sheets are irrelevant. Id. at 8. Specifically, Kantsevoy contends that the products of his clinical work are irrelevant because they are not the basis of his claim for equity compensation. Id. at 9. Moreover, he asserts that LumenR has already conceded that Kantsevoy completed the forms, and the forms themselves are not necessary for LumenR to be able to cross-examine Kantsevoy as to his work. Id. at 9-12.

         Finally, Kantsevoy offers a compromise: “If the Court requires production, it should allow Dr. Kantsevoy to produce the documents for inspection at his counsel's offices, ” rather than risking inadvertent disclosure by actually handing over the forms. Id. at 12.

         III. Discussion

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a) provides that, within fourteen days, a party may object to a magistrate judge's ruling on non-dispositive matters, such as discovery orders. Id.; see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Local Rule 301.5(a); Tafas v. Dudas,530 F.Supp.2d 786, 792 (E.D. Va. 2008). Rule 72(a) provides that the district court should only overrule the magistrate judge if the order objected to is “clearly ...

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