Summary of Pacitti’s v. Macy’s, U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit (1999)
Cause of action: The following is a cause of action for state contract and tort law claims, as well as an appeal on limits made regarding discovery.
Procedural History: Trial court summary judgment for DF. Trial court also limited the scope of discovery. This court reverses and remands.
Facts: PL won a Macy’s contest in which she was cast as Little Orphan Annie for a Broadway production, and after participating in a certain number of national tour productions, but was then fired after 100 performances, replaced by her understudy. Upon winning her contest, PL signed a K which gave Macy’s the right to fire PL at will provided they paid her salary the whole time.
At trial, PL’s tried to uncover information on the relationship between the store and the producers of the show, and the pecuniary benefit DF received from sponsoring the search. District Court limited discovery on “what promises, if any, were made by DF prior to and at the end of the final audition in NYC that the winner would automatically appear as Little Orphan Annie.” DF offered in its summary judgment motion evidence its K with the producers, which specified that the successful contestants would receive only the opportunity to enter into a standard actors’ equity K with the producers.
Issue(s): Under FRCP 26, should the scope of discovery be limited by the trial court as it related to either the communications between parties and monetary benefit to the DF’s?
Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Scope of review: abuse of discretion, as to “what promises, if any, wee made by DF prior to and at the audition…in NYC that the person selected at that audition would appear in the role as Annie.”
Based on the Federal Rule, there is allowed broad and liberal discovery. The claims brought up in its complaint correctly sought to connect the monetary benefit from the contest to Macy’s and their representation which was relied upon by PL. Any communications and relations to the producers, as well as the possible benefit to Macy’s could reveal how much DF did actually know in regards to whether they would actually have kept PL on or not.
Rule: FRCP 26(b)(1): “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileges, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party.” (info does not also have to be admissible at trial if reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.)
Holding: No. As long as evidence can appropriately be related to any of the claims in a complaint, anything requested which is not privileged during the discovery process is allowed to be requested, even it would not be admissible at trial, so long as there could be an eventual discovery made in relation to a claim raised in its complaint.