United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
B. JONES JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiffs motion to compel
discovery [DE-49], Defendants' response in opposition
[DE-55], and the parties' joint status report [DE-64].
For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.
alleges Defendants failed to pay Plaintiff and other
similarly situated employees the requisite minimum wage and
overtime compensation and unlawfully withheld a portion of
Plaintiff s tips in violation of state and federal wage and
hour laws, specifically the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"), 29U.S.C. § 201 etseq., and
the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act ("NCWHA"),
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-25.1 etseq., and seeks to
bring a collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and a
class action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. Am. Compl. [DE-7]. The
parties engaged in pre-certification discovery limited to the
factual circumstances underlying a potential motion for class
certification. PL's Am. Mem [DE-59] at 4. In the course of
pre-certification discovery, Plaintiff served on Defendants a
First Set of Request for Production of Documents and a First
Set of Interrogatories. Id. Defendants produced
written responses, including objections, and later produced
amended responses. Id.
unsuccessful attempts by counsel to resolve Plaintiff s
perceived deficiencies, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to
compel, which asserts that Defendants inadequately responded
to fourteen interrogatories and ten document requests.
[DE-49], In their response, Defendants endorsed some of their
prior obj ections and noted that Plaintiff s meet-and-confer
letter and memorandum in support did not address several of
Defendants' objections, but Defendants also indicated
they would supplement their prior responses to a number of
Plaintiff s requests. [DE-55]. Plaintiff then filed an
amended memorandum in support of the motion, which asserted
that no additional information or documents had been produced
by Defendants at that time. [DE-59]. The court ordered
counsel for the parties to engage in further meet-and-confer
efforts regarding the matters raised in Plaintiffs motion and
to file a status report with the court detailing which
matters had been resolved and which remained in dispute for
the court's determination. [DE-61]. The parties have now
informed the court that there remain in dispute two
interrogatories, Nos. 3 and 13, and two document requests,
Nos. 7 and 12. [DE-64]. The court commends counsel on their
work in resolving several of the issues originally presented.
may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that
is relevant to any party's claim or defense and
proportional to the needs of the case." Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). "Relevancy under this rule has been broadly
construed to encompass any possibility that the information
sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of any
party." Equal Emp 't Opportunity
Comm'n v. Sheffield Fin. LLC, No. 1:06CV00889,
2007 WL 1726560, at *3 (M.D. N.C. June 13, 2007);
Mainstreet Collection, Inc. v. Kirkland's, Inc.,
270 F.R.D. 238, 240 (E.D. N.C. 2010) ("During discovery,
relevance is broadly construed 'to encompass any matter
that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter
that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the
case.'") (quoting Oppenheimer Fund., Inc. v.
Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978)).
party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an
answer, designation, production, or inspection" if a
party fails to answer an interrogatory or to produce or make
available for inspection requested documents. Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(3)(B)(iii), (iv). For purposes of a motion to compel,
"an evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or
response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or
respond." Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(4). However,
the Federal Rules also provide that
the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery
otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rule if it
determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably
cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other
source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less
expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample
opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the
action; or (iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope
permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).
Fed. R Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C). "Additionally, the court has
'substantial discretion' to grant or deny motions to
compel discovery." English v. Johns, No.
5:ll-CT-3206-D, 2014 WL 555661, at *4 (E.D. N.C. Feb. 11,
2014) (quoting Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v.
Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995)).
Finally, the party seeking the court's protection from
responding to discovery "must make a particularized
showing of why discovery should be denied, and conclusory or
generalized statements fail to satisfy this burden as a
matter of law." Mainstreet Collection, 270
F.R.D. at 240 (citation omitted). Accordingly, as the party
objecting to discovery, it is Defendants'
i burden to show why discovery should be
Interrogatory No. 3
Interrogatory No. 3, Plaintiff seeks information to identify
potential putative class members.
INTERROGATORY NO. 3: During the Relevant Time Period,
identify all putative plaintiffs/class members or current
and/or former employees who performed work for Defendants.
This includes, but is not limited to, those individuals who
were non-exempt, paid a salary, or only received tips as
wages, and/or were charged any percentage of total sales from
each table. In so identifying these individuals, include the
individual's full name, last known address, telephone
number (including cell phone number) and e-mail address.
Status Rpt. [DE-64] at 3. Plaintiff contends this information
is "highly relevant to a motion for class or collective
action certification" and that the court has allowed
such discovery in similar matters. Id. (citing
Mondragon v. Scott Farms, Inc., No.
5:17-CV-00356-FL, 2019 WL 366870, at *8 (E.D. N.C. Jan. 5,
2019)); PL's Am. Mem. [DE-59] at 7. Defendants contend
this interrogatory is premature because the actual names and
addresses of its employees are not necessary for Plaintiffs
class certification motion. Jt. Status Rpt. [DE-64] at 4-5
(citing Mitchell v. Acosta Sales,LLC, No.
CV 11-1796-GAF (OPX), 2011 WL 13309060, at *5 (CD. Cal. Aug.
29, 2011)). Defendants ...