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Wellens v. Daiichi Sankyo Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 11, 2014

SARA WELLENS, Plaintiff(s),
v.
DAIICHI SANKYO INC, Defendant(s)

ORDER RE: JOINT DISCOVERY LETTER [DOCKET NO. 69]

DONNA M. RYU, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is a joint discovery letter filed by Plaintiffs and Defendant Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. [Docket No. 69.] Defendant seeks to take the deposition of ten women who have opted in to the putative Equal Pay Act class alleged in this case. Defendant also seeks responses to written discovery from a total of seventeen opt-ins. Plaintiffs have filed a motion for conditional certification of the Equal Pay Act class ( see Docket No. 78) and oppose the discovery at this time. Defendant now moves to compel this discovery.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Allegations

Defendant manufactures and sells cardiovascular, diabetes, and metastatic melanoma therapies and pharmaceuticals. Compl. [Docket No. 1] ¶ 1. Plaintiffs are current and former female sales employees of Defendant. Id. ¶¶ 14-19. Plaintiffs bring class and collective claims alleging violations of Title VII, California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Equal Pay Act, the California Equal Pay Act, and the California Unfair Business Practices Act, in their individual capacities, and on behalf of certain current, former, and future female sales employees of Defendant. See generally Compl.

Plaintiffs aver that the putative class consists of approximately 1, 500 female sales employees. Docket No. 64 at 3. Plaintiffs list approximately ninety of these putative class members in their Initial Disclosures. Id. Seventeen putative class members have already opted into this case. Letter at 1.

B. Motion for Conditional Class Certification

On March 6, 2014, after the instant discovery letter was filed, Plaintiffs filed a motion for conditional class certification. [Docket No. 78.] The motion includes thirty-one declarations, six from the named Plaintiffs and 25 from former or current employees.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides that a party may obtain discovery "regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevancy, for the purposes of discovery, is defined broadly, although it is not without ultimate and necessary boundaries." Gonzales v. Google, Inc., 234 F.R.D. 674, 679-80 (N.D. Cal. 2006). "District courts have broad discretion to control the class certification process, and whether or not discovery will be permitted lies within the sound discretion of the trial court." Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935, 942 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that the requested discovery will assist the court in determining the motion for conditional class certification because it will shed light on whether the opt-in Plaintiffs are similarly situated. Plaintiffs respond that discovery regarding opt-in Plaintiffs is premature, and urge the court to delay the discovery until after the motion for conditional class certification has been determined.

"To maintain a collective action under the [Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA")][1] a plaintiff must demonstrate that the putative collective action members are similarly situated." Harris v. Vector Mktg. Corp., 716 F.Supp.2d 835, 837 (N.D. Cal. 2010) (quotation omitted). In this district, courts use a two-step process in making this determination:

Neither the FLSA nor the Ninth Circuit have defined "similarly situated." But a majority of courts have adopted a two-step approach for determining whether a class is "similarly situated." Under this approach, a district court first determines, based on the submitted pleadings and affidavits, whether the proposed class should be notified of the action. At the first stage, the determination of whether the putative class members will be similarly situated is made using a fairly lenient standard, and typically results in "conditional certification" of a representative class. District courts have held that conditional ...

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