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CRST Expedited, Inc. v. Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

September 21, 2018



          C.J. Williams United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Discovery Responses and Document Production. (Doc. 61). The Court previously ordered plaintiff to file a partial resistance to defendant's motion, and plaintiff complied. (See Docs. 63, 64). The Court subsequently issued an Order denying “the portion of defendant's motion (Doc. 61) regarding plaintiff's ESI production.” (Doc. 67). Plaintiff later timely filed its resistance to the remainder of defendant's motion. (Doc. 69). Defendant timely filed a reply. (Doc. 71).

         On August 6, 2018, the Court held a hearing on all pending motions. During the hearing, the parties advised that they would further meet and confer in an attempt to resolve the remaining discovery issues raised in the instant motion to compel. (Doc. 61). The Court directed defendant to inform the Court by August 31, 2018, as to whether the parties were able to resolve the remaining issues or narrow the scope of the remaining issues. (Doc. 86, at 3). Defendant emailed the Court informing the Court that the parties were unable to resolve the remaining issues and that, as of August 31, 2018, plaintiff had yet to produce its electronically stored information (“ESI”). Defendant further stated that plaintiff had not provided an update on the status of plaintiff's ESI production, but that plaintiff intended to make at least a partial ESI production on September 7, 2018, and would finalize its ESI production on a rolling basis thereafter. For the following reasons, the portion of defendant's motion upon which the Court did not previously rule is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court has previously recounted the relevant factual background of this case and, for ease of reference, duplicates that background here:

Both plaintiff and defendant are trucking companies that rely upon drivers to transport goods. These drivers must either hold or obtain commercial driver's licenses. Plaintiff alleges that it has established a driver training program to allow individuals to obtain such licenses. (Doc. 43, at 2). Plaintiff further alleges that in exchange for plaintiff training its drivers, the drivers sign a contract in which they agree to a ten-month exclusive employment term with plaintiff. (Id., at 2-3). The contract also appears to contain a liquidated damages provision. (Doc. 2-1, at 2-3).[1]Plaintiff alleges that defendant has wrongfully recruited-and continues to recruit-plaintiff's drivers to breach their contracts with plaintiff in favor of working for defendant. (Doc. 43, at 4). As such, plaintiff brought claims against defendant for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, unjust enrichment, and intentional interference with contract, and seeks a permanent injunction enjoining defendant “from any further or continued interference with [plaintiff's] prospective economic advantage and/or contracts with its drivers.” (Doc. 43).

(Doc. 100, at 1-2 (footnote in original)).

         The parties have encountered multiple discovery disputes, and defendant now seeks to have the Court compel plaintiff to “provide a fulsome response to Interrogatory No. 18 [and] Request for Production No. 30.” (Doc. 61, at 2). Although the Court has already ruled on the portion of the motion addressing plaintiff's ESI production, defendant's email provided the Court with an update as to the status of plaintiff's ESI production. Because the Court has already ruled on the motion before it with respect to plaintiff's ESI production, however, and because defendant has not renewed its request that plaintiff be compelled to begin its ESI production, the Court will not address the issue of plaintiff's ESI production.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) provides that “[p]arties 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 importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Although Rule 26 is “liberal in scope and interpretation, extending to those matters which are relevant and reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, ” the party requesting discovery must make “some threshold showing of relevance . . . before parties are required to open wide the doors of discovery and to produce a variety of information which does not reasonably bear upon the issues in the case.” John Ernst Lucken Revocable Tr. v. Heritage Bankshares Grp., Inc., No. 16-CV-4005-MWB, 2017 WL 1217197, at *2 (N.D. Iowa Mar. 31, 2017) (alterations, internal citations, and quotation marks omitted). Once the requesting party has met its burden of making a threshold showing of relevance, the burden shifts to the party resisting discovery. St. Paul Reinsurance Co. v. Commercial Fin. Corp., 198 F.R.D. 508, 511 (N.D. Iowa 2000).


         A. Interrogatory Number Eighteen

         Interrogatory Number Eighteen reads as follows: “Identify all lawsuits, proceedings and other legal actions initiated by [plaintiff] against any driver to enforce the Driver Employment Contract, including but not limited to the case or matter name, jurisdiction, case number, basis of the lawsuit or action, current status and/or ultimate outcome.” (Doc. 61-2, at 13). Defendant argues that the information sought in Interrogatory Number Eighteen is relevant to plaintiff's request for permanent injunctive relief because the information will show that plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law and is therefore not entitled to injunctive relief. (Doc. 61-1, at 2). Defendant further contends that plaintiff's “collection of liquidated damages either through litigation or otherwise goes directly to its alleged damages in this matter.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff objects to Interrogatory Number Eighteen on the basis that the Interrogatory “seeks information that is irrelevant and not proportional to the needs of the case.” (Doc. 69, at 1). Further, plaintiff explains that the scope of plaintiff's initial objection to Interrogatory Number Eighteen was narrow. Specifically, plaintiff explains that it did not object to Interrogatory Number Eighteen in its entirety, but rather objected only to providing the information sought with respect to those drivers who are not at issue in this case. (Id., at 3). Finally, plaintiff asserts that it “has ...

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