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Rivera v. Affineco, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 26, 2018

LOURDES RIVERA
v.
AFFINECO, LLC

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL

          JOAN GLAZER MARGOLIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Familiarity is presumed with the factual and procedural history behind this employment litigation. Under an electronic scheduling order filed by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton on December 18, 2017, all discovery was to be completed by January 11, 2018. (Dkts. ##39-40).[1] On January 11, 2018, the deadline for completing discovery, defendant filed the pending Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Comply with its July 6, 2017 Discovery Requests, [2] with brief and affidavit of counsel [“Aff't”] attached.[3] (Dkt. #41). Twelve days later, plaintiff filed her brief in opposition (Dkt. #44), as to which defendant its reply brief on February 6, 2018 (Dkt. #50).[4] On January 16, 2018, Judge Arterton referred this motion to this Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. #43; see also Dkts. ##33-36).[5]

         For the reasons stated below, defendant's Motion to Compel (Dkt. #41) is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. DISCOVERY AT ISSUE

         Defendant served plaintiff with its First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production on July 6, 2017 (Dkt. #42, Exh. A), as to which plaintiff first responded on August 29, 2017 [“Plaintiff's Response”](id., Exh. B), and again with Supplemental Responses on January 3, 2018 (id., Exh. C) and Amended Responses on January 10, 2108 (id., Exh. D). In its pending motion, defendant argues that plaintiff “has interposed inappropriate objections and failed or otherwise refused to provide full and fair responses to [defendant's] [d]iscovery [r]equests[, ]” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 3) and her noncompliance “has [obstructed] and continues to obstruct [defendant's] ability to secure necessary relevant discovery on material elements of this case and to evaluate and prepare its defense thereof.” (Id. at 2). Defendant moves to compel full and fair responses to five categories of discovery requests:

1. discovery requests relating to damages claimed by plaintiff, mitigation of any such damages, and Affineco's defense thereof: Interrogatory [“Int.”] Nos. 4, 5, 6, 32; Request [“Req.”] Nos. 3, 4, 7, 16, 22;
2. discovery requests relating to facts, claims, and witnesses: Int. Nos. 8, 13, 14, 17, 18, 21, 27, 30; Req. Nos. 6, 26, 28;
3. discovery requests to which plaintiff's response is incomplete and relies on or otherwise refers to, in whole or in part, the Complaint: Int. Nos. 14, 16, 22, 23, 28, 29;
4. discovery requests to which plaintiff has failed to produce all responsive documents in her possession, custody, or control: Req. Nos. 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 24, 29; and
5. discovery requests to which plaintiff's responses are incomplete as she fails to state whether there are any responsive documents in her possession, custody, or control: Req. Nos. 14, 17, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27.

(Dkt. #41, ¶¶ 1-5; Dkt. #41, Brief at 1-2). Defendant argues that plaintiff has “interposed inappropriate objections and failed or otherwise refused to provide full and fair responses to [defendant's] Discovery Requests.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 3). Each of defendant's five categories of discovery requests will be discussed separately.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. DISCOVERY RELATED TO PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES AND DEFENDANT'S DEFENSE THEREOF

         Defendant seeks a court order that plaintiff fully and fairly respond to discovery requests relating to her damages claims, any mitigation of those damages, and defendant's related defenses, as sought in Int. Nos. 4, 5, 6, and 32, and Req. Nos. 3, 4, 7, 16, and 22. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 3).

         1. INTERROGATORIES NOS. 4 AND 5

         Defendant's Int. No. 4 asks plaintiff to:

[s]tate [her] gross income for the calendar years 2012, 2013, 2014, and for the period commencing January 1, 2015, up until the time of trial, including any unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, welfare, disability and/or social security benefits received during these time periods, and hereafter on an annual basis up to and through the time of the trial. . . .

(Id. at 3-4; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 3-4). For each calendar year, plaintiff is asked to state her gross income, the source of her income, the amount of income received from each source, the business address and telephone No. of each source of income, and the date the income was earned. (Id.). Defendant's Int. No. 5 asks plaintiff to “[i]dentify and describe all work for compensation [she] ha[s] performed since January 1, 2012, including all employment, consulting work and self-employment.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 5; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 4). For all work performed, it further asks plaintiff to state the dates that she worked; the name of any employer for whom she worked; the name, address, telephone numbers, and job title of her immediate supervisor; whether she was paid on an hourly or salary basis, the compensation rate or salary, and the amount earned from each income source during the calendar year; whether her work was full-time or part-time; the No. of hours she worked each week; and, if she left any work, the reason for leaving. (Id.).

         Plaintiff objected that Int. Nos. 4 and 5 are overbroad, unduly burdensome, oppressive, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and specifically that they seek information for the time period preceding plaintiff's employment at defendant, which is irrelevant to this action. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 4; Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 5-6). In her brief, plaintiff further argues that the time period before her employment with defendant is irrelevant because “there is no claim for front pay[.]” (Dkt. #44, at 1-2). As defendant points out in its reply brief, however, “front pay” continues to be listed in the Prayer for Relief in the Amended Complaint. (Dkt. #50, at 1, citing Dkt. #19-1, at 11, ¶2).

         In its reply brief, defendant has agreed that, upon proper stipulation, it would “no longer seek the disclosure of information and/or documents relating to [p]laintiff's income and employment that pre-date her employment with [defendant, ]” (Dkt. #50, at 1-2), thus narrowing the requests in Int. Nos. 4 and 5, and Req. Nos. 3, 4, and 22, all of which include the time period preceding plaintiff's employment with defendant. Thus, defendant's Motion to Compel with respect to the pre-employent time period in Int. Nos. 4 and 5, and Req. Nos. 3, 4, and 22 is denied without prejudice to renew, only in the event that the parties are unable to agree upon the anticipated stipulation.[6]

         With respect to the time period beginning with her employment at defendant, plaintiff answered that she was employed with defendant from 2013 through November 11, 2015; that she received approximately $3, 380 in unemployment; and that as of March 3, 2017, she began working for ACMT Technologies “through JobPro making more than she did with the [d]efendant.” (Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 5-6). Plaintiff's counsel has represented that plaintiff had already provided her tax returns for 2014 and 2015, and had no income in 2016, but agreed to produce her “most recent pay stub for 2017.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 4; Aff't, Exh. 3; see also Dkt. #42, Exh. E).

         With respect to Int. No. 4, defendant argues that plaintiff fails to identify her gross income for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017; identify all sources of income from 2013 through the present; identify the amount of income received from each source; and identify the business address and telephone No. of each source of income. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 9). Defendant asserts that plaintiff also fails to provide any information about compensation received after her separation with defendant in November 2015 through March 3, 2017, when she began working for ACMT Technologies, as well as information about income for work at ACMT Technologies between March 3, 2017 and August 14, 2017. (Id. at 9-10). With respect to Int. No. 5, defendant argues that plaintiff fails to provide any responsive information about any employer for whom she worked, and the work that she performed, from 2012 through 2014, and 2015 through March 2017; and fails to provide any responsive information about her separation from any identified employer for whom she worked. (Id. at 10).

         Plaintiff argues that she “disclosed her income following her termination, to the best of her recollection[]”; she disclosed that she received approximately $3, 380 in unemployment benefits; she stated that she began working for ACMT Technologies, where she made more money, as of March 2017; and she provided her 2014 and 2015 tax returns reflecting all income from those years. (Dkt. #44, at 1-2). Plaintiff acknowledges that at her deposition, she revealed she had been employed by Advantage Maintenance in 2016, about which plaintiff previously forgot, but argued that her failure to provide information related to this employment did not prejudice defendant because “[d]efendant was in possession of [p]laintiff's personnel file, application and payroll records for [p]laintiff's brief employment with Advantage Maintenance.” (Id. at 2).

         “An answer to an interrogatory must be completed within itself and, it should be in a form that may be used at trial.” Trueman v. New York State Canal Corp., No. 1:09-CV-049(LEK/RFT), 2010 WL 681341, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 2010)(citation omitted). Accordingly, defendant should not be required to attempt to answer its own interrogatories based on the documents plaintiff has produced, especially in light of the fact that defendant has already found one employer plaintiff “forgot” to previously include. Plaintiff shall supplement her responses to Int. Nos. 4 & 5 on or before March 9, 2018.

         2. INTERROGATORY NO. 32

         Defendant's Int. No. 32 asks plaintiff to “[i]dentify and describe with specificity the type(s) and amount(s) of all damages and/or compensation [she] claim[s] [d]efendant owes [her], including the factual basis therefor and how each category of damages and/or compensation was calculated.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 6; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 18). Plaintiff's response was “See Damage Analysis previously provided[.]” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 6; Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 22). Defendant argues that plaintiff's reliance on a damages analysis “previously provided” is improper and should be supplemented with a full and fair response. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 11, citing Trueman, 2010 WL 681341, at *3). Plaintiff argues that the damages analysis she has provided outlines her damages and includes how each was calculated, and that she subsequently provided an updated damages calculation including her income from an employer she “previously did not recall.” (Dkt. #44, at 2). Because answers to interrogatories referring to other documents are disfavored, Trueman, 2010 WL 681341, at *3, plaintiff is ordered to supplement her response to Int. No. 32 on or before March 9, 2018. To the extent that plaintiff's updated damages analysis is fully responsive to Int. No. 32, answering it will impose no additional burden on plaintiff.

         3. REQUESTS NOS. 3 AND 4

         Defendant's Req. No. 3 asks plaintiff to “[p]roduce any and all documents, including, but not limited to, all federal and state income tax returns, including all statements, schedules, attachments and amendments thereto, filed and/or prepared by [her] or on [her] behalf since calendar year 2012, and for each year thereafter up to the time of trial.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 6; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 19). Defendant's Req. No. 4 asks plaintiff to “[p]roduce any and all other documents that reflect any income, wages or other compensation earned or received by [her], from any source, since January 1, 2012, up to the time of trial.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 6-7; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 19). In addition to her objections, plaintiff initially referred to her “provided tax documents” for 2014 and 2015. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 6; Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 7-8). Plaintiff's counsel has represented that plaintiff had no income in 2016 and so there was no 2016 tax return, and similarly offered to provide her most recent pay stub to reflect her income in 2017. (Aff't, Exh. 3).

         Defendant argues that plaintiff has failed to produce any documentation reflecting income, wages, or other compensation earned from her work at ACMT Technologies between March 3, 2017 and August 14, 2017. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 11-12). Plaintiff, however, contends that “[a]s of March 2017[, ] [p]laintiff's back pay is cut off.” (Dkt. #44). On or before March 9, 2018, plaintiff shall supplement her responses to include this representation, and shall provide additional responsive documents, if they exist, up to March 2017.

         4. REQUEST NO. 7

         Defendant's Req. No. 7 asks plaintiff to “[p]roduce any and all documents relating to any claim by [her] for social security, disability and/or welfare benefits at any time.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 7; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 20). Plaintiff responded that she “has not made any application for Social Security Disability.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 7; Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 24). Defendant argues that this response does not fully address Req. No. 7. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 12). Plaintiff has since supplemented her response to Req. No. 7 “to include whether or not she has received welfare benefits.” (Dkt. #44, at 3). However, as defendant observes, plaintiff has still not fully addressed the request for any and all documents related to a claim for social security benefits, disability benefits, and/or welfare benefits. (Dkt. #41 at 12). Plaintiff is ordered to fully and fairly respond to Req. No. 7 on or before March 9, 2018.

         5. REQUEST NO. 22

         Defendant's Req. No. 22 asks plaintiff to “[p]roduce any and all documents concerning wages, salary, earnings, compensation, employee benefits or any other financial benefits received by [her] from any source other than [d]efendant since January 1, 2012.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 7; Dkt. #42, Exh. A at 23). Plaintiff objected to the extent that this request sought “documents for a period of time that [is] irrelevant to the claims of this action and is overly burdensome.” (Dkt. #41, Brief at 7; Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 28-29). Subject to this objection, plaintiff referred to “provided tax documents.” (Dkt. #42, Exh. B at 29). Defendant argues that “documentation that reflects employee benefits or any other financial benefits received by [p]laintiff from any source other than defendant since 2012[]” is relevant to plaintiff's claim for monetary damages. (Dkt. #41, Brief at 12-13)(emphasis in original). Defendant argues that plaintiff has not responded to the request with respect to any “wages, salary, earnings, compensation, employee benefits or any other financial benefits” from a source other than defendant, but during the same time period that she was employed part-time with defendant. (Dkt. #50, at 2). To the extent that plaintiff has produced her tax documents for the years requested, plaintiff has adequately responded to defendant's requests.

         6. INTERROGATORY NO. 6 ...


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