Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jackson Municipal Airport Authority v. Bryant

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

October 10, 2019

JACKSON MUNICIPAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS
v.
GOVERNOR PHIL BRYANT, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          F. KEITH BALL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This case comes before the undersigned to follow the directives set forth in the Opinion [339] issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit issued the Opinion in response to a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus (Petition) filed by Governor Phil Bryant, a defendant in this case. In his Petition, Governor Bryant requested that the Fifth Circuit issue a writ of mandamus ordering this Court to vacate, in part, a previously-issued Order [333] and grant his Motion for Protective Order [261] seeking to prohibit the deposition of Joey Songy, the Governor's Chief of Staff. The Fifth Circuit denied the Petition without prejudice, but made findings and ordered further consideration by the undersigned.

         In its Opinion, the Fifth Circuit instructed the undersigned to address the following in relation to whether Plaintiffs should be allowed to depose Songy:

a) whether the information desired can be sought from alternative witnesses or must exclusively come from the Chief of Staff;
b) whether the legislators involved in the communications can be deposed;
c) whether the information desired can be obtained in another form; and
d) if it cannot be obtained in another form, whether the scope of the inquiry can be more closely tailored to target only the specific questions raised at the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition.

[339] at 7.

         a) whether the information desired can be sought from alternative witnesses or must exclusively come from the Chief of Staff.

         As the Fifth Circuit stated, this case involves "a dispute over control of the governance of the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport." [339] at 1. From the initial filing of their Motion to Compel, Plaintiffs have made clear that they wish to depose Songy because he was "the first person in the Governor's office to conceive the idea of the state taking control of Jackson Medgar Evers International." [256] at 7. And the 30(b)(6) designee for Governor Bryant's Office testified that Songy was the person in the Governor's Office who came up with the concept. [259-4] at 21-25. Plaintiffs explain that they want to "ask Mr. Songy about his concept for changing the governing structure of the Airport and any communications he may have had related to that concept, as well as Mr. Songy's actions and non-privileged communications with others regarding the management or operation of the Airport." [342] at 2. Plaintiffs state that "no one other than Mr. Songy himself can fully explain where his idea came from or what considerations informed its development." Id. at 6.

         In sum, the "information desired" by Plaintiffs includes how, why, and when Songy came up with his concept and what he did to promote it toward legislation. Plaintiffs want to know what role Songy, as the Governor's representative, played, if any, in the conception, formulation, and support of S.B. 2162, the legislation at issue which transfers control of the airport from the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) to a newly-created governing body. Since only Songy can answer these questions about his own concept of transferring control of the airport or what all he did to promote it, the information must exclusively come from Songy and cannot be provided by alternative witnesses.

         In this Court's original Order [333], the undersigned addressed Governor Bryant's argument that "Plaintiffs could depose the individuals Songy met with rather than Songy himself." [333] at 7. The undersigned stated, "[t]his argument . . . misses the point," and that as "Governor Bryant is a party to this lawsuit, . . . Plaintiffs are entitled to discover the factual position of a party opponent." Id. As this holding was not particularly well-received by the Fifth Circuit, the undersigned would respectfully like to explain the point in more detail. As the Fifth Circuit correctly observed, Governor Bryant "identified Chief of Staff Songy" in his disclosures under Rule 26(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [339] at 2. Rule 26(a) explicitly provides that such initial disclosures are of persons "the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i) (emphasis added). If Plaintiffs were relegated to deposing only the non-party individuals to whom Songy communicated, Governor Bryant would be free to "use" Songy at trial to rebut the testimony of those individuals. The undersigned respectfully submits that a party should not be allowed to identify a person whom they may "use" to support their case, while at the same time prohibiting an opposing party from deposing that person. Allowing such a prohibition would risk the very unfair surprise that discovery is intended to prevent.

         b) whether the legislators involved in the communications can be deposed.

         The answer to this question is - maybe, maybe not. As the Fifth Circuit correctly noted, "[t]he legislators objected, invoking legislative privilege," to document subpoenas served on them by Plaintiffs. [339] at 10. The Fifth Circuit also stated that "the magistrate judge already overruled that objection multiple times." Id. In a prior Order [251], the undersigned held that the legislative privilege had been waived (or did not apply), as to subpoenaed documents that had been shared with third parties, but as to all other documents withheld under a claim of privilege, the undersigned simply ordered the legislators to produce a privilege log. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this Court's local rules require such a privilege log, when a party withholds documents under a claim of privilege. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(5); L.U.Civ.R. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.