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Hernandez v. Artic Glacier USA, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 11, 2017

JOSE HERNANDEZ, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
ARCTIC GLACIER USA, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant.


          Jan M. Adler United States Magistrate Judge

         On March 23, 2017, Defendant Arctic Glacier USA, Inc. (“Arctic Glacier”) filed a document captioned “Request for Reconsideration of Order re: Joint Motion for Determination of Discovery Dispute.” [Doc. No. 30.] Plaintiff Jose Hernandez (“Hernandez”) has filed a brief in opposition and Plaintiff has also filed a reply brief in support of his motion. [Doc. No. 31 and 33.] Pursuant to CivLR 7.1.d.1, the motion is suitable for disposition without oral argument. After due consideration of the parties' briefs, the Court DENIES Arctic Glacier's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case is a “collective action” brought by Hernandez under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 USC 216(b), on behalf of himself and other similarly situated employees of Arctic Glacier. Hernandez contends Arctic Glacier improperly classified him and other delivery drivers as exempt from overtime under the FLSA. Hernandez alleges he often worked more than eight hours a day and more than 40 hours a week, but was not paid overtime. He believes other delivery drivers followed a similar schedule and were likewise improperly classified as exempt from overtime.

         Hernandez filed a motion for conditional certification of his proposed FLSA class on October 17, 2016, before the Hon. M. James Lorenz. [Doc. No. 20.] On November 7, 2016, while the motion for conditional certification was pending, the parties filed a discovery motion before the undersigned, pursuant to which Hernandez sought to compel further responses to his Interrogatory No. 2 and thirteen requests for production of documents, including specifically Document Request No. 15, arguing the discovery was necessary for conditional certification of his proposed FLSA class.[1] [Doc. No. 21.] Arctic Glacier, which opposed Hernandez's motion for conditional certification on the basis he had failed to show he was similarly situated to the members of the putative class, argued Hernandez's motion to compel should also be denied because the discovery he sought was premature since he had not shown he was similarly situated to the potential class members. [Doc. Nos. 21 & 22.] Although Arctic Glacier had asserted various other objections to production in its discovery responses, it did not rely on any of these other objections in connection with the discovery motion.

         In ruling on the discovery motion, the undersigned applied Ninth Circuit precedent, adopting the principle that although unlimited discovery is not appropriate before conditional class certification is granted, the parties may undertake limited discovery necessary for defining the proposed class. [Doc. No. 27, citing Morden v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42047, *6-13 (W.D. Wash., June 22, 2006); Sargant v. HG Staffing, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56580, *10-13 (D. Nev. Apr. 22, 2014); and Acevedo v. Ace Coffee Bar, Inc., 248 F.R.D. 550, 553-556 (N.D. Ill. 2008).] The Court narrowed the scope of the discovery sought by Hernandez and, in pertinent part, ordered Arctic Glacier to provide full and complete responses to Hernandez's Interrogatory No. 2 (requesting Arctic Glacier provide the total number of FLSA PLAINTIFFS) and documents responsive to Request for Production No. 15 (calling for “DOCUMENTS sufficient to identify the number of FLSA PLAINTIFFS.”) Id. That order was issued on December 28, 2016, with a deadline of January 13, 2017 set for Arctic Glacier's compliance. [Id. p. 7.]

         Instead of fully complying with the Court's order as it related to Interrogatory No. 2 and Request for Production No. 15, Arctic Glacier produced supplemental discovery responses and documents that identified FLSA Plaintiffs outside California, but continued to withhold information for any California-based FLSA Plaintiffs, contending, for the first time, it did not need to produce discovery responsive to these requests for any California-based employees because it has a valid res judicata defense based on the prior class settlement in Carranza v. Arctic Glacier, Case No. RG13692993.[2] Arctic Glacier's position, thus, resulted in the filing of a second discovery motion on March 2, 2017. [Doc. No. 29.] The Court ruled on that motion on March 16, 2017, holding Arctic Glacier had waived a res judicata based objection because it was not timely asserted. [Id., p. 3, citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4). It is this order that Arctic Glacier now requests the Court reconsider.


         Although Arctic Glacier styles its filing as a “Request for Reconsideration, ” it fails to meet the requirements of Civil Local Rule 7.1.i.1, which allows a party to apply for reconsideration “[w]henever any motion or any application or petition for any order or other relief has been made to any judge and has been refused in whole or in part.” In pertinent part, the rule requires a party to show “what new or different facts and circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist, or were not shown, upon such prior application.” CivLR 7.1.i.1.[3] Artic Glacier fails to do so, and cites no legal authority whatsoever.


         Arctic Glacier does not cite any new or different facts or circumstances. Instead, it argues that because the Court, as opposed to Hernandez, observed Arctic Glacier had failed to previously to make a res judicata based objection to Interrogatory No. 2 and Request for Production No. 15, it should reconsider its ruling. [Doc. No. 30, pp. 2-3.] No explanation is offered as to how this might have been an error on the Court's part, nor does Arctic Glacier offer any legal basis to support its argument the Court should ignore the plain language of the Federal / / Rules of Civil Procedure and long-established and clearly applicable legal precedent when not raised by a party.

         Arctic Glacier contends had Hernandez made the waiver argument, it would have been able to offer a counter argument. Id. The opportunity to offer a counter-argument, however, is not the same as the ability to offer a viable counter-argument. Essentially Arctic Glacier claims that because it has asserted the res judicata defense at other times throughout the case, such as in its Amended Answer, its Notice of Related Case, during the Early Neutral Evaluation Conference, and in response to a completely separate interrogatory (No. 5), it did not waive the objection with respect to Interrogatory No. 2 and Document Request No. 15. Under Arctic Glacier's analysis, somehow Hernandez and the Court should have divined from Arctic Glacier's position, in combination with its blanket objections to each and every discovery request that they were “not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” and “the burden and expense of the proposed discovery is disproportionate to the needs of the case, ” that Arctic Glacier would be withholding information and documents regarding California-based FLSA Plaintiffs. Id. Arctic Glacier also contends it did not address its res judicata objection in connection with the first discovery motion because the argument was not addressed by Hernandez. Id.

         This argument, albeit creative, runs counter to fundamental tenets of discovery, which provide each interrogatory must be responded to “separately and fully.” Fed. R. Civ .P. 33(b)(3). If an objection is asserted, the reasons for the objection “must be stated with specificity” in the response. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4); see also Nagele v. Electronic Data Systems Corp., 193 F.R.D. 94, 109 (W.D. N.Y. 2000) (objection that interrogatories were “burdensome” overruled because objecting party failed to “particularize” basis for objection); Mancia v. Mayflower Textile Services Co., 253 F.R.D. 354, 357 (D. Md. 2008) (boilerplate objections waived any legitimate objections responding party may have had); Deere v. American Water Works Co., Inc., 306 F.R.D. 208, 215 (S.D. Ind. 2015) (“general objections are entitled to little if any weight.”) If required to make the objection understandable, the objecting party must state reasons for any objection. Chubb Integrated Sys. Ltd. v. National Bank of Wash., 103 F.R.D. 52, 58 (D. D.C. 1984) (“irrelevant” did not fulfill party's burden to explain its objections.) “Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the court, for good cause, excuses the failure.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4)

         Similarly, in responding to a request for documents, a party asserting an objection must identify the specific document or evidence requested as to which the objection is made and “state with specificity the grounds for objecting to the request, including the reasons.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(B). The objection must also specifically state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of the objection. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(B). When an objection applies only to a portion of the documents requested, the responding party must identify the materials being withheld and produce the remainder. Id. “Courts have found that failure to state any objections to the production of documents in a ...

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