United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL
Williams Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff's Motion
to Compel Discovery. (Doc. 29). The instant motion is timely.
See LR 37(c) (“[M]otions to compel must be
filed within 14 days after the discovery deadline.”).
Plaintiff's motion was filed on June 8, 2017, which was
prior to the June 26, 2017 discovery deadline. Defendants
timely filed a resistance on June 22, 2017. (Doc. 30).
See LR 7(e) (a resistance is due no later than
fourteen days after service of the initial motion). Plaintiff
timely filed a motion to file an overlength reply on June 29,
2017, and this Court granted leave to file said overlength
brief. (Docs. 31, 34). See LR 7(g) (“[T]he
moving party may, within 7 days after a resistance to a
motion is served, file a reply brief.”). This Court
heard oral argument upon Plaintiff's request on July 10,
2017. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in
part and denies in part Plaintiff's Motion to Compel
relevant facts of this case are as follows:
filed her Amended Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial on
August 9, 2016, in the Northern District of Iowa alleging:
(1) retaliation under Iowa law; (2) sex discrimination under
Iowa law; (3) retaliation under the federal Civil Rights Act
of 1964; and (4) sex discrimination under the federal Civil
Rights Act of 1964. There is no dispute that plaintiff was
employed by defendant Performance Contractors from
approximately May 2015 through October 2015. Plaintiff's
employment was thereafter terminated; the cause of
plaintiff's termination gave rise to the instant
Contractors is an industrial contractor employing
approximately 8, 000 employees to perform construction,
turnaround, and maintenance services at approximately 80
different worksites across the country. The number of
employees located at each worksite varies, and each worksite
may have its own management structure, depending on the
number of employees located at that site. Plaintiff was hired
to an unskilled position at a worksite in Sioux City, Iowa.
Defendant Andrew Morel was the Field Human Resources Manager
at the Sioux City jobsite and was thus responsible for
handling human resources affairs, such as the one presented
in the instant case, when they arose at the Sioux City
jobsite. Defendants James Ehlenbach and Kendel Wood were
plaintiff's supervisors; both parties agree that neither
Ehlenbach nor Wood played a role in the decision to terminate
alleges that she was discriminated against based on her
Hispanic heritage and her sex-as a woman in a male-dominated
industry-and faced direct retaliation when she submitted a
formal written complaint to the human resources department
detailing her allegations of discrimination. Specifically,
plaintiff claims that she was initially subject to a
three-day suspension for insubordination but, upon raising
the issue of discrimination, plaintiff was summarily
terminated from her employment with Performance Contractors
by defendant Morel. In contrast, defendants contend that the
sole reason for plaintiff's termination was
insubordination. Following plaintiff's termination, the
corporate human resources office based out of Baton Rouge,
Louisiana launched an investigation into the situation and
ultimately upheld plaintiff's termination. Plaintiff
contends that this investigation amounts to part of the
decision-making process to terminate plaintiff while
defendants argue that the investigation simply constituted an
internal appeals process.
deadline for completion of discovery was June 26, 2017. (Doc.
27). A jury trial is scheduled for December 18, 2017, before
the Honorable United States District Court Chief Judge
Leonard T. Strand. (Doc. 18).
instant motion, plaintiff seeks more complete responses to
plaintiff's interrogatories and requests for production
of documents served on defendants; an additional sixty days
during which to depose additional witnesses whose identities
become known as a result of the aforementioned discovery
requests; and the imposition of sanctions on defendants. The
discovery requests and materials exchanged in this case are
expansive; the contested discovery matters are detailed
STANDARDS FOR MOTION TO COMPEL
moving to compel discovery “must include a
certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or
attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make
disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without
court action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1); see also
LR 37(a). Alternatively, counsel may certify in a written
declaration that such a personal conference was impossible
“and describe the efforts undertaken to schedule the
conference. An exchange of written communications or a single
telephone message will not, by itself, satisfy the
requirements of this [rule].” LR 37(a). The importance
of the meet-and-confer requirement is not to be diminished.
See Williams v. Cent. Transp. Int'l., Inc., No.
4:13-CV-2009 (CEJ), 2014 WL 6463306, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 17,
2014) (“The meet-and-confer requirement is ‘not
an empty formality.'”).
counsel has attached to the instant motion the requisite
declaration stating that plaintiff's counsel has met and
conferred with defendants' counsel in good faith. (Doc.
28-13). Furthermore, the numerous exhibits attached by the
parties evidence extensive communications between counsel,
both via email and telephone. Therefore, the Court finds that
plaintiff did, in good faith, engage in meaningful
communication with defendant on the instant discovery issues
prior to seeking court intervention. Thus, the
meet-and-confer requirement is satisfied.
Relevance and Proportionality
26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of
discovery is as follows: Parties 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, considering the importance of the issues at stake
in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within
this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Rule 26(b) is widely acknowledged
as “liberal in scope and interpretation, extending to
those matters which are relevant and reasonably calculated to
lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
Hofer v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th
Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Additionally, in the context
of discovery, the standard of relevance is
“broader” than in the context of admissibility.
(Id. (citing Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v.
Sanders, 437 U.S. 340 (1978))). Yet, “[s]ome
threshold showing of relevance must be made before parties