United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MICHAEL SCRIBNER, et al.
OCEAN STATE JOBBERS, INC.
ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY RESPONSES [DOC.
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is a motion by plaintiffs Michael Scribner,
et al. (“plaintiffs”) to compel responses to
discovery requests. [Doc. #96] The motion was referred to the
undersigned on July 27, 2016, [Doc. #101] and a conference
regarding the motion was held on August 9, 2016. [Doc. #110]
Following the conference, the Court entered an Order
directing the parties to meet and confer in good faith to
resolve their outstanding issues, and to file a Joint Status
Report indicating the results of the parties'
discussions. See Doc. #112 at 6-7.
parties submitted their Joint Status Report on August 29,
2016, identifying one outstanding disagreement and one item
that is the subject of ongoing discussion between the
parties. [Doc. #126] As set forth herein, the Court GRANTS
plaintiff's motion, in part.
Request 12 (as numbered in Doc. #107)
parties' Joint Status Report indicates that the sole
matter still in dispute is plaintiffs' Request 12. See
Doc. #126. Request 12 seeks production of “[t]o-do
lists from the stores where 15 of the Plaintiffs
worked.” Doc. #107 at 2.Defendant objects to production of
all such to-do lists, arguing that such a request is overly
broad, and will encompass many irrelevant documents that do
not pertain to the duties of assistant store managers. See
Doc. #126 at 2. Defendant thus proposes limiting the search
(and production) to those lists that contain the first and/or
last name of an assistant store manager. Id.
Plaintiffs contend that defendant's approach will exclude
many relevant documents. Id. Plaintiffs “note
that many of the exemplar to-do lists which were produced by
Plaintiff Michael Scribner include either initials or, for
many items, no names at all.” Id. at 2-3.
plaintiffs also contend that they are now entitled to to-do
lists from the stores employing all 57 opt-in plaintiffs in
light of Judge Thompson's Order [Doc. #123] granting
defendant's motion to depose all 57 opt-in plaintiffs.
See Doc. #126 at 1.
26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth
the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely
benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “The party resisting
discovery bears the burden of showing why discovery should be
denied.” Cole v. Towers Perrin Forster &
Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009). The Court
must consider the relevance of the discovery sought, which
“has been construed broadly to encompass any matter
that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter
that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the
case.” Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437
U.S. 340, 351 (1978), citing Hickman v. Taylor, 329
U.S. 495, 501 (1947).
The Court is also called upon to engage in a proportionality
analysis, and must balance the value of the requested
discovery against the cost of its production. ... The Court
must limit discovery otherwise allowed if the discovery
sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be
obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less
burdensome, or less expensive. Of course, as in all matters
relating to discovery, the district court has broad
discretion to limit discovery in a prudential and
Family Wireless #1, LLC v. Auto. Techs., Inc., No.
3:15CV01310(JCH), 2016 WL 3911870, at *2 (D. Conn. July 15,
2016) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
noted at the conference and in its August 9, 2016, Order, the
Court considers the requested to-do lists generally
discoverable. See Doc. #112 at 4. The very heart of this case
is the assignment of tasks at defendant's stores; a
“to-do list” that provides any insight into who
was assigned to do what in a given store is highly relevant
to the issues at hand. Defendant has not shown why
limitations on the search or production of these documents
are necessary, or how the production of all to-do lists for
each of the fifteen representative plaintiffs would be unduly
burdensome. See, e.g., Sullivan v. StratMar Systems,
Inc., 276 F.R.D. 17, 20 (D. Conn. 2011) (“[Defendant]
must specifically show how plaintiff's requests ... are
overly broad, burdensome or oppressive by submitting
affidavits or offering evidence revealing the nature of the
burden.” (internal citation and quotation marks
omitted)). On the other hand, plaintiffs have not established
any need for the to-do lists from the stores where all 57
plaintiffs were employed. The fact that the defendant now has
the right to depose all 57 plaintiffs does not necessarily
mean that the records obtained from the representative sample
will be insufficient to provide the information plaintiffs
require. Absent some showing that there are meaningful
differences among the stores in the use or contents of these
to-do lists, the Court finds that production of the to-do
lists for the stores employing the fifteen representative
plaintiffs sufficient, and proportional under the
plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is GRANTED,
as to the to-do lists from the stores at which the fifteen
representative plaintiffs were employed. Defendant shall
search for and produce all to-do lists from the stores where
the representative fifteen plaintiffs worked, for the
relevant time period. This production shall be made on or before
October 14, 2016. II. Request 13 (as
numbered in Doc. #107)
respect to Request 13, requesting “[e]mails and other
instructions from the Defendant's Home Office to the
stores where 15 of the Plaintiffs worked[, ]” [Doc.
#107], the parties report that they have agreed to an initial
set of search terms and to “the email in-boxes of the
stores” to be searched. See Doc. #126 at 3. While the
parties' Joint Status Report also indicates that they may
agree to additional search terms, there appears to be ...