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Chen v. Ampco System Parking

August 14, 2009

WILLIAM CHEN, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMPCO SYSTEM PARKING, ETC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jan M. Adler U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY FROM RELATED STATE CASES

INTRODUCTION

This case is a "collective action" brought by Plaintiff William Chen ("Chen") under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 USC 216(b), for himself and on behalf of other similarly situated employees of Ampco Systems Parking ("Ampco"). Chen contends that Ampco had a company-wide practice of requiring him and other hourly-paid parking lot attendant employees to clock in and out at their scheduled shifts, but compelling them to work off the clock, before and after their shifts, without pay. Plaintiff seeks to recover unpaid wages for hours he and other similarly situated Ampco employees worked.

On July 14, 2009, the parties conducted a telephonic discussion with the undersigned's law clerk regarding Plaintiff's request to compel discovery from four related state cases brought against Ampco -- Diaz, Morales, Reyes and Baylon (the "state cases").*fn1 The Court further discussed this issue with the parties during a Case Management Conference on July 17, 2009 at 3:30 p.m. [Doc. 43] On July 24 and July 31, the parties provided the Court letter briefs in support of their respective positions. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's request to compel Defendant to produce discovery from the state cases is GRANTED in part -- Defendant shall produce the deposition transcripts of the two named plaintiffs in the pending state cases (Doc. Req. No. 7). Plaintiff's request for additional discovery regarding the state cases (Doc. Req. Nos. 2, 5, 6, 7) is DENIED.

LEGAL STANDARD

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)(B), a party can move to compel discovery when the opposing party fails to comply with discovery requests made pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) 34. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) allows discovery of "any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party." The Court must limit the discovery otherwise where "the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C).

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY FROM FOUR RELATED CASES IS GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART

A. Only Limited Discovery Is Permitted Prior To Conditional Certification

As stated in the Court's previous order denying Plaintiff's motion to compel further discovery regarding his Rule 30(b)(6) deposition notices [Doc. No. 42], while "some limited discovery is appropriate prior to certification [in an FLSA action] unlimited discovery is not warranted." Acevedo v. Ace Coffee Bar, Inc., 248 F.R.D. 550, 553-556 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (allowing plaintiff to proceed with limited discovery prior to provisional certification); see also Morden v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42047, *4-6 (W.D. Wash., June 22, 2006) (permitting "limited discovery necessary for defining the proposed class" prior to conditional certification). When and if Plaintiff obtains conditional certification, he will be entitled to broader discovery regarding whether the putative class members are "similarly situated," and therefore eligible for collective treatment under the FLSA. Rosen, Rothstein, Aspen et al., Rutter Group Prac. Guide: Federal Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group 2009).

B. The Discovery Requests

Document Request No. 2 asks Defendant to produce all statements and declarations that relate or refer to the state cases.

Document Request No. 5 asks Defendant to produce all documents related to communications regarding the state cases Document Request No. 6 asks Defendant to produce all discovery produced by Ampco in the state cases, including written discovery responses, documents and deposition transcripts.

Document Request No. 7 asks Defendant to produce all discovery that Ampco received in the state cases, including the same document types as in Doc. Req. No. 6.

Defendant Ampco objected to the above requests as being overbroad, burdensome, oppressive, vague, ...


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