The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge
Presently before the court are: (1) defendant's motion for a protective order regarding the disclosure of "confidential" documents and information (see Dkt. Nos. 17); and (2) plaintiff's motion to compel the production of documents responsive to certain requests for production served by plaintiff, which also seeks $5,000 in sanctions for defendant's allegedly dilatory conduct in gathering and producing responsive documents (Dkt. No. 19).*fn1 The undersigned heard this matter on its law and motion calendar on October 21, 2010. Attorney Erika Barbara Pickles appeared on defendant's behalf. Attorney Michael L. Tracy appeared on plaintiff's behalf.
During the lengthy hearing, the undersigned attempted to steer the parties' counsel toward a workable, cooperative, and informal resolution of their discovery disputes. Believing that reasonable attorneys would be able to resolve these disputes without a court order, the undersigned provided the parties with an additional opportunity to informally resolve their differences regarding the entry of a protective order and the production of allegedly confidential and non-confidential documents. The undersigned also ordered that the parties file a joint status report regarding their progress on or before November 1, 2010. After receipt of the parties' joint status report, it appears that the parties were unable to resolve their disputes. (Dkt. No. 23.)
After considering all of the filings related to the pending motion for protective order and motion to compel, as well as counsel's respective arguments at the hearing, the undersigned will deny defendant's motion for a protective order on the grounds that defendant has failed to demonstrate the requisite good cause in support of the entry of such a protective order. However, as discussed below, the undersigned will impose procedures for defendant's production of documents that defendant believes are "confidential" and the resolution of any disputes regarding defendant's confidentiality designations. Additionally, the undersigned will grant plaintiff's motion to compel, which seeks purportedly confidential and non-confidential documents that defendant all but agrees plaintiff is entitled to receive, but that defendant has inexplicably withheld pending resolution of the motion for protective order. Finally, the undersigned will deny plaintiff's request for monetary sanctions without prejudice because plaintiff has not adequately presented the issue to the court.
Plaintiff alleges that he was employed by defendant from approximately April 2007 through July 8, 2009. (See Compl. ¶ 4, Ex. A to Notice of Removal, Dkt. No. 1.) Defendant is an "information technology (IT) outsourcing provider that offers managed services and IT infrastructure for its customers." (Joint Statement re Mot. for Prot. Order at 4, Dkt. No. 18.) Defendant contends that plaintiff was employed as an "Operations Engineer, Level 2" with numerous IT systems-related responsibilities, and defendant allegedly withheld overtime pay from plaintiff on the basis that plaintiff qualified for an overtime exemption based on the nature of the work plaintiff performed. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that he was simply a low-level, IT help-desk type employee. (Id. at 10.)
Plaintiff filed this overtime exemption action in the Superior Court of California for the County of Sacramento seeking unpaid overtime, related penalties under the California Labor Code, and damages under California Business & Professions Code § 17200. (See generally Compl.) Defendant removed the action to federal court because plaintiff's fourth claim for relief seeks unpaid overtime that was allegedly withheld in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.
On March 11, 2010, plaintiff served defendant with a "Request for Production of Documents" ("RFPs").*fn2 (Tracy Decl., Ex. B, Dkt. No. 24, Doc. No. 24-2.) After a number of extensions granted by plaintiff, defendant filed objections and responses to plaintiff's RFPs on May 10, 2010. (See id.) Although it appears that defendant has produced approximately 500 pages of responsive documents, defendant's counsel represented at the October 21, 2010 hearing that at least 10,000 pages of additional, responsive discovery remain to be produced.
In part, defendant objected to the production of some documents on the basis of the confidential nature of those documents. Plaintiff appeared to be willing to enter into a stipulated protective order to accommodate defendant's concerns. However, the parties were unable to agree on the terms of a proposed stipulated protective order that would govern the designation, disclosure, and use of confidential documents. Defendant also withheld from plaintiff non-confidential documents to which plaintiff was entitled, apparently relying on the absence of a protective order regarding confidential documents.*fn3
On September 29, 2010, defendant filed the motion for a protective order pending before the court. The parties filed a Joint Statement Re Discovery Disagreement, pursuant to Local Rule 251, regarding defendant's motion for protective order. (Dkt. No. 18.) The parties also filed such a joint statement regarding plaintiff's motion to compel the production of documents in response to its RFPs numbered 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, and 21. (Dkt. No. 19.) It appears that although the parties' were able to come to several agreements regarding plaintiff's motion to compel, defendant refused to produce responsive confidential and non-confidential documents until the court entered a protective order.
Defendant seeks a protective order to protect its, and its customers' confidential business, proprietary, and/or trade secret information. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1)(G). It contends that plaintiff's discovery seeks confidential and sensitive materials that must be protected by a protective order prior to disclosure. Defendant seeks to designate the following broad categories of information as "confidential":
* Confidential information regarding the technology of Defendant ...