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Barker v. Insight Global, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

September 7, 2017

JOHN BARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
INSIGHT GLOBAL, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER RE DISCOVERY DISPUTE JOINT REPORT NO. 4 RE: DKT. NO. 101

          HOWARD R. LLOYD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Insight Global, LLC (“Insight”) is a staffing services company. John Barker (“Barker”) was a long time employee of Insight and head of its San Francisco/San Jose office. On October 26, 2016, Insight terminated Barker's employment. Soon afterward, Barker obtained new employment with Beacon Hill Staffing Group, LLC (“Beacon Hill”), an Insight competitor.

         Barker sued Insight for unpaid deferred compensation and also for a declaration that the non-compete and non-solicitation provisions of his employment contract were void under California Business and Professions Code § 16600.

         Insight counterclaimed, accusing Barker of breaching his employment contract by (1) going to work for an Insight competitor without notifying Insight and (2) soliciting at least 8 Insight employees to quit (successfully with 3 of them). Insight also alleged claims for relief based on interference with prospective economic advantage (the revenue that the 3 who left would have generated) as well as interference with contract (same idea). Insight said Barker “encourage[ed]” the 3 to “solicit and/or assist in soliciting certain clients of Insight Global to terminate, alter, and/or refrain from entering into continuing client relationships with Insight global.” (Dkt. 29 ¶ 47) (emphasis added).

         In Discovery Dispute Joint Report (DDJR) #2, Insight sought an order compelling its requested discovery on the issue of whether Barker induced John McArthur (“McArthur”), Connor Cronin (“Cronin”), and Bryan Verduzco (“Verduzco”) to quit Insight and come to work for Beacon Hill. (These are the 3 mentioned in the previous paragraph, and they are non-parties to this action.) The court in its ruling (Dkt. 87) did itself draft and permit some very focused discovery on that issue, but it is curious that now, in this DDJR #4, Insight seems to tout that order as a “win.” It now says that discovery such as it propounded last time is “undeniably relevant (as determined by this Court)” (DDJR #4, p.2, line 1) and asserts that its proposed compromise for solving the present dispute is “[b]ased on this Court's own findings, a fair and adequate resolution of this dispute….” (id., p 2, line 13). In fact, the court in its order on DDJR #2 said that the discovery Insight had attempted to enforce was a “fishing expedition” and “an extreme example of discovery overreach” that “smacks of harassment.”

         DISCUSSION

         Now, back to the present. In DDJR #4, the issue is the proper scope of discovery on Insight's claims that Barker “encouraged” McArthur, Cronin, and Verduzco to solicit “certain” customers of Insight to terminate or alter their relationship with Insight. Notably, the Amended Counterclaim does not allege that Barker himself solicited any Insight customers.

         Insight says it served “written discovery” to Barker and subpoenas duces tecum on Beacon Hill, McArthur, Cronin, and Verduzco. It did not submit copies of this discovery to the court. Instead, it told the court it would “compromise” and accept a dialed-back version of what it had originally asked for. Here is the compromise:

1. Barker, McArthur, Cronin, and Verduzco will produce a “list” of any hiring managers or customers/accounts: (a) with whom they interacted during their Insight employment; and (b) with whom they have interacted during their Beacon Hill employment (Insight calls these “Overlap Customers”);
2. Barker, McArthur, Cronin, and Verduzco will produce all electronic communications they had with the Overlap Customers since they have left the employ of Insight;
3. Barker, McArthur, Cronin, Verduzco, and Beacon Hill will produce documentation/information about revenue generated for Beacon Hill by the Overlap Customers since the date Barker's employment with Insight ended; and
4. The court will reopen the depositions of Barker, McArthur, Cronin, and Verduzco for questions about discovery produced pursuant to 1, 2, and 3, above.

         First, the compromise's definition of Overlap Customers assumes facts that may or may not be true. It assumes that any customer of Insight did not become a customer of Beacon Hill until after Barker joined Beacon Hill. Is it not possible that both Insight and ...


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