United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JAMES STEBBINS, et al.
S&P OYSTER CO., et al.
RULING ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
February 15, 2017, plaintiffs James Stebbins, Daniel Clark,
and Brian Pothier (“plaintiffs”) filed a Motion
to Compel Discovery. [Doc. #72]. Plaintiffs' motion seeks
an Order compelling defendants S&P Oyster Co., Peter
Nikolaisen, and Cathleen Holland (“defendants”)
to provide further responses to plaintiffs' November 3,
2016, discovery requests. See Id. at 1. Defendants
have filed a Memorandum of Law in Opposition to
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel. [Doc. #79]. Plaintiffs have
filed a Reply. [Doc. #81]. For the reasons set forth below,
plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is GRANTED, in part, and
DENIED, in part, with leave to renew.
filed this action on June 20, 2016, pursuant to the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§201, et seq., and the Connecticut Minimum Wage Act
(“CMWA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. §§31-59, et
seq., on behalf of plaintiffs and all similarly situated
individuals. Plaintiffs, all servers at the defendant
restaurant, allege, inter alia, that they were deprived of
their statutory minimum wage and overtime wages, and that
defendants failed to provide them with mandated notice
regarding a tip credit allowance. See generally, Doc. #1.
Plaintiffs have filed a Motion for Conditional Certification
of a Collective Action pursuant to the FLSA (Doc. #54), and
have indicated that they also plan to pursue certification of
a class action pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. See Doc. #1 at 6-9; Doc. #72 at 2.
Defendants deny the allegations in the Complaint, and have
filed an opposition to plaintiffs' motion for conditional
certification. [Doc. #62]. That motion, which is fully
briefed, is pending before Judge Alvin W. Thompson. A
settlement conference is scheduled for May 5, 2017, before
the undersigned. [Doc. #68].
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).
Motion to Compel seeks to compel further responses to
plaintiffs' First Sets of Interrogatories and Requests
for Production, served on November 3, 2016. Defendants'
responses to the requests at issue were served on December 5,
2016. After several efforts to meet and confer, defendants
agreed to provide additional responses and documents
responsive to plaintiffs' requests. This motion to compel
was filed while those discussions were ongoing.
contend that defendants have failed to comply with Rule
34(b)(2)(C) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, because
defendants' objections do not state whether responsive
materials were withheld. See Doc. #72 at 4. Plaintiffs also
argue that they are entitled to a more complete response to
Interrogatory 6, which requests the identities of the
putative class members. The remainder of plaintiffs'
motion relates to 21 requests for documents that generally
concern pay records, tip records, and time records for the
named plaintiffs and for putative class members. Plaintiffs
argue, inter alia, that they “are clearly entitled to
class-wide discovery in aid of their anticipated motions for
class/collective certification.” Doc. #72 at 11. They
further aver that this discovery is expressly permitted by
the Court's Scheduling Order, Doc. #48, which provided
for “preliminary discovery related to class
certification, ” specifically, “[i]nitial
discovery requests related to the certification of a class
and the suitability of the class representatives.” Doc.
#48 at 2. Plaintiffs claim that providing responses to their
requests would not be burdensome, and that the discovery
sought is not disproportional “to the amounts in
controversy here.” Doc. #72 at 12.
oppose plaintiffs' motion, arguing, inter alia, that
plaintiffs' requests exceed the limited discovery that
was authorized by the Court's Scheduling Order, and that
plaintiffs are not entitled to the disclosure of the
identifying information of putative class members at this
point in the litigation. See Doc. #79 at 1-3. Specifically,
defendants argue that the disclosure of identifying
information of potential opt-in class members is appropriate
only after a collective action is conditionally certified.
See Id. at 3. Defendants contend that the redacted
documents that they have now provided, including daily tip
sheets, contain the unique employee number for each server
who might be a class member, so that plaintiffs may
“properly craft a damages model” in preparation
for the settlement conference scheduled in this matter.
Id. at 4. Finally, defendants have offered to
provide all documents in response to the discovery requests
at issue for a sampling of ten servers of plaintiffs'
choosing. See id.
requests at issue can be grouped into two categories:
requests that seek identifying information of putative class
members, and requests that seek discovery that goes to the
merits of the case. The Court will address each category in