ROAD TRIP: Pro Se Plaintiff Ordered to Drive from Iowa to Florida for Deposition Because He Filed Suit There

Quick (fun) one for you.

TCPA Plaintiffs often file suits outside of their home jurisdiction. In fact, we see it all the time.

While we sometimes move to transfer cases to litigate where the Plaintiff lives–to have easier access to witnesses, etc.–many times we simply let the case proceed in the far flung district of Plaintiff’s choosing. But we always require the Plaintiff to travel to that jurisdiction for deposition and other in person events– because if you choose the venue you cannot complain about having to be present there.

That was certainly the case in Wilkins v. RCI, LLC 2023 WL 7109670 (M.D. Fl. Oct. 27, 2023).

There the Plaintiff resides in Iowa but filed suit in Florida. Defendant sought to depose Plaintiff in Florida but Plaintiff asked the Court not to require him to travel to Florida. Plaintiff argued he would have to drive to Florida twice in a 60 day period–a mediation was set in the coming weeks as well–and Plaintiff asked the court to allow the deposition to occur closer to the mediation date.

The Court was not having it:

Moreover, Defendant is entitled to depose Plaintiff in person, in Orlando, Florida. “[T]here is a presumption that a plaintiff may be deposed in the district in which he has initiated his action.” DeepGulf, Inc. v. Moszkowski, 330 F.R.D. 600, 608 (N.D. Fla. 2019); see also Curry v. HSBC N. Am. Holdings, Inc., No. 8:14-CV-2420-T-30JSS, 2015 WL 4911447, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 17, 2015) (“Typically, a plaintiff must make herself available for deposition in the judicial district in which she filed suit.”) Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant in the Orlando Division of the Middle District of Florida, and therefore, Plaintiff must submit to a deposition here. See also Middle District Discovery (2021) at Section II.A.3 (“A nonresident plaintiff may reasonably expect to be deposed at least once in this district during the discovery stages of the case….”)

The Court said the parties could figure out the date though, so maybe Plaintiff will be deposed near the mediation. We shall see.

Notably, however, the Court limited the Defendant’s right to inspect Plaintiff’s cell phone–which I think is just baloney. The guy claims to have screen shots of calls but the Court will not permit an evaluation of the phone to confirm they are real. Sounds… off.

We’ll keep an eye on this one.


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