Subpoenas in New Jersey (part 2)

In spite of its broad scope generally, discovery “is not unbridled and unlimited.” Berrie v. Berrie, 188 N.J. Super. 274, 282 (App. Div. 1983). Given the broad scope of defendants’ document demands upon these non-parties, the burden upon the non-parties in complying with defendants’ discovery demands, and the costs of enforcement of the subpoena, clearly outweigh any commensurate benefit, if any, to the plaintiff in this case.

1. Defendants’ Subpoenas Are Unreasonable And Oppressive Because They Seek Documents Equally Attainable From the Defendants.

The subpoenas served by defendants are unreasonable and oppressive because they request that a non-party produce documents more easily attainable from defendants, parties to the litigation, if any such information were relevant and not confidential. It is well-settled that a subpoena should not be used as a substitute for discovery more appropriately obtained through depositions and interrogatories. See Wassertein v. Swean & Co., 84 N.S. Super. 1, 6-8 (App. Div.) certif. denied, 43 N.J. 125 (1964). Furthermore, where the information subpoenaed is more readily attainable through discovery directed at a party, a shifting of the demand of production to a non-party is unreasonable and oppressive. See Harvey v. Nissan North America, Inc., 2005 WL 10501 (N.J. Super. Ch.) (granting Motion to Quash in part as “shifting of the burden to a non-party is impermissible and any duplicative requests need not be honored”). Moreover, defendants have offered no adequate cause to warrant shifting the burden of discovery to these non-parties to this matter. As such, defendants’ subpoenas should be quashed as unreasonable and oppressive.

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