What is a Subpoena?

In civil litigation, subpoenas are often used to compel discovery from nonparties to a suit such as individuals or corporations. In a California proceeding, a deposition subpoena is the only method by which to obtain discovery from a non-party in civil litigation. “A deposition subpoena must be served to compel that witness’s attendance, testimony, or production of documents and things pursuant to Chapter 6, ‘Nonparty Discovery,’ of the CDA.” (CCP §§ 2020.010-2020.510. See, e.g., California ex rel Lockyer v. Super. Ct., 122 Cal. App. 4th 1060, 1076-78 (2004).)

The California Civil Code allows an oral deposition, written deposition, or a deposition for production of business records and other things coming within the scope of Article 4 or 5. (CCP § 2020.010.) The process by which a nonparty is required to provide discovery is a deposition subpoena. (Id.) However, subpoenas are still subject to the rules regulating discovery between parties of a suit.

Any party is entitled to discovery proceedings up until the 30th day before the date initially set for the trial of the action and a continuance of the trial date does not operate to reopen discovery proceedings. (CCP § 2024.020.)

There are four types of deposition subpoenas: a subpoena for an oral deposition, a subpoena for business records deposition commanding only the production of business records for copying, a subpoena for business records deposition commanding the productions of records and testimony, and finally, a subpoena for a written deposition. (CCP §§ 2020.310, 2025.010, 2020.410, 2020.510, 2028.010.6.)

If the subpoena is for the production of business records, discovery will be considered complete on the date of production. (CCP § 2020.010.) However, if the subpoena is seeking personal records under CCP § 1985.3 then there needs to be at least 20 days’ notice. (CCP § 1985.3; see Unzipped Apparel v. Bader, 156 Cal.App.4th 123, 127 (2007).)

The Court is authorized under CCP § 1987.1 to order a subpoena quashed entirely, modified, or directed to comply with terms and conditions the Court declares, including protective orders. (CCP § 1987.1.) Under this section the court is also authorized to make any order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person. (Id.)

“If a deponent fails to answer any question or to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing under the deponent’s control that is specified in the deposition notice or a deposition subpoena, the party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that answer or production.” (CCP § 2025.480, subd. (a).) The court can order the disobeying party to comply within 60 days after completion of the deposition record. (Id.) Objections or other responses to a business records subpoena are the "deposition record" for purposes of measuring the 60-day period for a motion to compel. (See Unzipped Apparel, 156 Cal.App.4th at 132-133.)

Useful Rulings on Subpoena

Recent Rulings on Subpoena

CATHAY BANK VS ACE HARDWARE CORPORATION

However, the plaintiff may subpoena documents or witnesses to be available at the trial for the purpose of establishing the profits or financial condition referred to in subdivision (a), and the defendant may be required to identify documents in the defendant’s possession which are relevant and admissible for that purpose and the witnesses employed by or related to the defendant who would be most competent to testify to those facts.

  • Hearing

    Nov 06, 2020

WILLIAMS VS. MCPHETRIGE

Motion to Quash Discovery Subpoena filed by Bradley T. Williams Motion is Moot; No sanctions ordered.

  • Hearing

    Sep 28, 2020

ARIA LAW GROUP, PLC V. SAEID MOHEBBI

Merits of Motion Aria moves to compel Deponent’s compliance with the subpoena. Although not articulated by Aria, its motion is presumably made pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.480. Section 2025.480, subdivision (a) states: “If a deponent fails…to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing under the deponent’s control that is specified in…a deposition subpoena, the party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that…production.”

  • Hearing

    Sep 24, 2020

BRIANA HUDSON VS BEVERLY TERRACE, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

This Court may, upon noticed motion and opportunity to be heard, make an order quashing or modifying a third-party deposition subpoena that requires production of books or documents. (Code Civ. Proc. § 1987.1(a).) In so doing, the Court may make an order “as may be appropriate to protect the [party, witness, consumer or employee] from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the[ir] right of privacy.” (Id.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 24, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY VS LAVELLE LEMONIER

Petitioner now asks the Court to execute a subpoena for issuance of the records, pursuant to which Veterans Affairs allows for the release of records under Directive 1605.01, subdivision (20)(b)(1). (Id. at ¶9 and Exh. F.) Uninsured motorist claims are governed by Cal. Insurance Code section 11580.2. Subdivision (f) of section 11580.2 dictates that arbitrations thereunder are subject to the Civil Discovery Act. The Civil Discovery Act provides for the issuance of subpoenas. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1985.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 23, 2020

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

MARBLE V. CALIFORNIA DINNER ENTERTAINMENT, LLC

Plaintiff’s (Tiffany Marble) Motion to Quash or Limit Defendants’ Subpoena for Plaintiff’s Employment Records (Motion), filed on 5-26-20 under ROA No. 78, is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as set forth below.

  • Hearing

    Sep 22, 2020

JENNIFER BLACKMON VS, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION

The subpoena served on Department of Water Resources seeks any and all records and files “relating to [plaintiffs] employment." (See Hammell Dec., Exhibit A, Deposition Subpoena [emphasis added].) These demands are plainly overbroad. CDCR has not made a showing that the all plaintiff's employment files from here prior employer are directly relevant to the claims for loss of income and subsequent employment at a lower hourly rate.

  • Hearing

    Sep 22, 2020

TERESA DELFIN VS WHITTIER COLLEGE, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

On or about August 12, 2019, Plaintiff served a deposition subpoena for personal appearance and production of documents and things to Dr. Sarah Willie-Lebreton. (Rossetti Decl., ¶ 9, Ex. 1.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 22, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Wrongful Term

ML DOE V. DOE 1, A CORP.

Motion Nos. 2 and 3: Non-Party’s (Tod Brown) Motion to Stay Deposition and Quash Deposition Subpoena to Bishop Tod Brown (Motion No. 2), filed on 8-14-20 under ROA No. 153, and Defendant (The Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange County) Joinder to Non-Party Tod Brown’s Motion to Stay Deposition and Quash Deposition, filed on 8-28-20 under ROA No. 169, are CONTINUED to 11-3-20 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C19.

  • Hearing

    Sep 22, 2020

CHUNG & ASSOCIATES LLC ET AL VS XAVIER RUFFIN ET AL

Notably, the response to the subpoena shows a payment totaling of $833,188.09 to Cynosure Creative Agency, operated by Defendants. This information is enough for Plaintiff to meet its initial burden on the amount under a lost profits theory, even though the court rejects Plaintiff’s expert opinion because it fails to explain how he arrived at this number. The burden now shifts to Defendants.

  • Hearing

    Sep 21, 2020

ALVAREZ VS ZOOK

Analysis: The defendants agreed prior to the motion being filed that it would withdraw the subpoena to Riverside County Medical Services. Accordingly, the motion as to that subpoena is moot, and is denied on that basis. Neither sides’ position was justified in total.

  • Hearing

    Sep 21, 2020

MIDLAND ENTERTAINMENT LLC VS HYDRA GROUP LLC ET AL

As things presently stand, Third Floor has obtained via subpoena pleadings and discovery responses related to the Singer action from Singer himself. (Motion at p. 8.) Midland has also produced the Singer settlement, but has not produced communications related to the settlement or earlier drafts of the same. (Motion at p. 8.) It is these settlement-related communications and prior settlement agreement drafts that are at issue here. (Motion at p. 11.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 21, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

ALEJANDRA TORRES VS STATE FARM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANIES

On February 22, 2019, Petitioner filed a Motion to Quash Respondent’s Deposition Subpoena for Production of Claimant’s Medical Records. The Court took that motion off calendar on April 10, 2019, finding that, because the matter was in arbitration, the discovery dispute should have first been submitted to the arbitrator. (4/10/19 Minute Order.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 21, 2020

  • Judge

    James E. Blancarte

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

JOHN J STEF VS PUEBLO RADIOLOGY MEDICAL GROUP INC ET AL

He contends the trial subpoena process was only made necessary because defendants refused to turn over simple corporate records, requiring that they be subpoenaed to trial. Plaintiff asserts that defendants are not entitled to expert witness fees, given that the judgment which was entered only contains reference to recovery of costs and attorneys’ fees, not any other costs such as secretarial costs or expert fees.

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

  • Judge Donna Geck
  • County

    Santa Barbara County, CA

LABOR COMMISSIONER FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA VS. CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ORANGE COUNTY, INC.

Order to Show Cause The hearing on the OSC RE: Why the Administrative Deposition Subpoena Issued By the Labor Commissioner Should Not be Enforced (“OSC”) is Continued to 10/02/20. Respondent Catholic Charities of Orange County, Inc. (“Respondent”), appears to have missed not only the Court’s 02/10/20 Order regarding pleadings on the OSC, but failed to abide by the requirements of CCP §§ 1005(b) and (c).

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

WORKERS MOUNTAIN VALLEY ASSEMBLY LLC VS CITY OF SAN FERNANDO

Poltavski filed a Cross-Complaint on July 19, 2018, alleging three causes of action: Account Stated Breach of Oral Contract Declaratory Relief On June 20, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash Business Records Subpoena to Circle of Hope Alliance. On January 9, 2020, this Court granted Poltavski’s Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Cross-Complaint.

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

ANDREW MCGINNIS, ET AL. VS SAN MARINO GARDENS WELLNESS CENTER, LP

The disclosure of the names and addresses of potential witnesses is a routine and essential part of pretrial discovery….The party’s ability to subpoena witnesses presumes that he has the witnesses’ contact information.” Puerto, at 1250-1251, citations, quotations omitted. The opposition does not address this argument, or meet defendant’s burden of justifying this objection.

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

PETRA LOMELI VS ANTONIO G RAYA SR ET AL

Kaiser stated it was unable to comply with this subpoena because its records system is not set up to sort records by body parts, medical conditions, or symptoms. Kaiser offered to provide records by date range, department types, or provider names or suggested appointing a discovery referee. Plaintiff has not objected to the subpoena or the Motion. Defendant moves to compel Kaiser’s compliance with the subpoena.

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

STROBEL V. JOHNSON & JOHNSON, ET AL.

Fees incurred to subpoena records are recoverable. (Naser v. Lakeridge Athletic Club (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 571, 577-578.) The court therefore declines to strike any of the RecordTrak billing amounts. Postoffer expert fees can be awarded in the court’s discretion against a plaintiff who fails to accept a C.C.P. §998 offer, and then does not obtain a judgment in excess of that offer. (C.C.P. §998(c)(1).)

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

GEORGE GOMEZ VS AXALTA COATING SYSTEMS, LLC, ET AL.

MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFF’S BUSINESS RECORDS SUBPOENA Pursuant to a Deposition Subpoena for Production of Business Records, plaintiff seeks to compel the production of documents from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. (“Disney”) so that plaintiff may attempt to identify the products that allegedly caused his cancer, as is required by Bockrath v. Aldrich Chemical Co., Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 71, 80-81. (Camastra Decl. ¶ 6 & Ex. D, Attachment 3, p. 2.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

ANDREW BURKOT VS COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ET AL

County argues that the costs were reasonable and necessary because Plaintiff identified various healthcare providers in his discovery responses such that County was required to subpoena medical records from several different hospitals. (Id. at p.8.) The Court finds that the costs were reasonable and necessary to ascertain the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries and claims. As such, the Court denies the request to tax/strike the service of process fees. The full amount of $5,111.28 shall be recoverable. 4.

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

DAVID LOPEZ VS BOB FRENCH CONSTRUCTION INC ET AL

In this case, it is not clear how every document sought in the subpoena from each of Plaintiff’s former employers is discoverable. For example, Defendant seeks to discover Plaintiff’s employment applications, which often contain sensitive information. What is more, Defendant seeks to discover payroll, work absence, incident reports, personnel records, pre-employment exam and progress records without time limitation.

  • Hearing

    Sep 18, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

WATSON VS. MANTLE

HEARING ON MOTION TO COMPEL NON-PARTY COMPLIANCE WITH SUBPOENA FILED BY JEANNE MANTLE, et al. * TENTATIVE RULING: * Appear by CourtCall.

  • Hearing

    Sep 17, 2020

FARBOD MELAMED VS PARALLAX HEALTH SCIENCES INC ET AL

Defendant Melamed moves to compel the California Board of Pharmacy to comply with its deposition subpoena for the production of records. Legal Standard “‘If a deponent fails to answer any question or to produce any document or tangible thing under the deponent's control that is specified in the deposition notice or a deposition subpoena, the party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that answer or production.’” (Unzipped Apparel, LLC v. Bader (2007) 156 Cal.

  • Hearing

    Sep 17, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

BRENT A. ROBINSON VS CHRISTOPHER SERNA, ET AL.

CCP 1985.3(g) provides, in relevant part: Any consumer whose personal records are sought by a subpoena duces tecum and who is a party to the civil action in which this subpoena duces tecum is served may, prior to the date for production, bring a motion under Section 1987.1 to quash or modify the subpoena duces tecum. Notice of the bringing of that motion shall be given to the witness and deposition officer at least five days prior to production.

  • Hearing

    Sep 17, 2020

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