IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
August 3, 2010
SABAS ARRENDONDO, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
DELANO FARMS CO., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
On July 16, 2010, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion for discovery sanctions. The motion was heard on July 30, 2010, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. Jessica Arciniega and Thomas Lynch appeared on behalf of Plaintiffs Sabas Arrendondo, Jose Cuevas, Hilario Gomez, Irma Landeros and Rosalba Landeros, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated. Michael Johnson appeared on behalf of Defendants Delano Farms Co., Cal-Pacific Farm Management, L.P., and T&R Bangi's Agricultural Services, Inc.
On July 17, 2009, five Named Plaintiffs filed this action alleging causes of action under both federal and state law (Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, California Labor Code and California Unfair Competition Law) based on allegations that they were not compensated for all time worked. Plaintiffs are seasonal, agricultural workers who worked in agricultural fields and packing sheds owned by Defendant Delano Farms. Defendants Cal- Pacific Farm Management and T&R Bangi are farm labor contractors working with Delano Farms to provide its labor force.
Plaintiffs' deadline to file a motion for class certification is August 10, 2010, though the parties are expected to submit a stipulation to extend the date.
On June 2, 2010, the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs' motion to compel production of documents. Among other things, Defendants were ordered to produce time records and wage information for all potential class members. The Court stated, "To the extent that the requested information is stored on a computer, Defendants SHALL produce the information for all covered employees. As to Defendant Delano Farms, this request includes invoices, as well."
Defendants provided supplemental responses on July 2, 2010. The responses consisted of 9 CD-ROMs containing Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and scans of handwritten employee time cards.
Plaintiffs filed the instant motion for sanctions on July 16, 2010. Defendants filed their opposition on July 23, 2010, and Plaintiffs filed their reply on July 28, 2010.
Based on their belief that Defendants failed to comply with the June 2 order, Plaintiffs seek monetary and terminating sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. At the hearing, the parties were able to agree on a supplemental production, as set forth below. The Court will therefore reserve ruling on the issue of sanctions until the completion of the supplemental production.
A. Electronic Production of Employee Records
The bulk of Plaintiffs' discovery complaints arise from Defendants' production of employee records in the form of Excel spreadsheets. Defendants exported information from Datatech, their payroll software, to the spreadsheets and contend that the information appears as kept in its native form. While Defendants also contend that the information is fully searchable, Plaintiffs have identified numerous issues with the form of the production.
Plaintiffs now have the Datatech software and Defendants have agreed to export relevant data from Datatech and produce it to Plaintiffs on a hard drive. Defendants estimated that ten percent of the employees referenced in Datatech are not covered employees and they will therefore delete such employees prior to production.
B. Handwritten Payroll Records
Defendants produced scans of handwritten time cards in the manner in which they were stored. Plaintiffs argue, however, that they are not able to identify for which Defendant the employee worked. At the hearing, Defendants stated that Defendants Cal-Pacific and T&R Bangi are the only employers and agreed to provide an explanation in a supplemental response.
Plaintiffs also questioned whether Defendants utilized a software program for creating time cards because at least one of the time cards produced appears to have been created electronically. Although Defendants believed that all of the time cards were handwritten, they have agreed to inquire whether there an electronic time keeping system was in use and whether other electronic time cards exist. The parties are reminded to discuss the native format of the information and any systems used, as well as the format of production, prior to supplementing the response.
Plaintiffs raise a similar issue as to the invoices produced by Defendants. Plaintiffs believe that the invoices, which were kept in binders and scanned for production, were created electronically. Defendants have represented to the Court, both in their briefing and during oral argument, that invoices are not electronically stored.
D. Information Relating to Document Compilation and Retention
Defendants have represented that they do not have any responsive documents.
E. Additional Witnesses
Finally, Plaintiffs contend that Defendants have belatedly produced an additional 280 witnesses despite their representation at the prior hearing that the 11 witnesses already identified were likely the only witnesses. At the hearing, Defendants explained that the additional witnesses were produced to update the list with names produced in response to a document request. The list, however, is incomplete. Defendants agreed to provide additional information, such as where, when and in what capacity the witness worked, for the witnesses who are likely to be involved in the class certification process.
As discussed at the hearing, the parties SHALL meet and confer to develop a time line for the supplemental production. The Court will not rule on the issue of sanctions at this time and Plaintiffs' may renew the request for sanctions, if necessary, after the supplemental production.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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