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Murray v. Tyson Foods

February 24, 2010

JOHN MURRAY, ET AL, PLAINTIFF
v.
TYSON FOODS, INC., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Gorman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Now before the Court is Defendant's motion for a protective order, limiting the scope of the Plaintiff's Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED. Also before the Court is the parties' joint motion (#68) to extend the deadline for filing dispositive motions. That motion is also GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed a three count Complaint against defendant, alleging that they and others employed at the Defendant's Joslin, Illinois plant had not been paid all wages due to them under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, and federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The caption of the Complaint designated as plaintiffs the following: "John Murray, Diokel Gning, Carol Ndao, Jose J. Sanchez, Daniel Denato and Denise Goodrich on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated individuals. The Complaint itself was titled "Original Class Action Complaint," and the Civil Cover Sheet prepared by plaintiffs' counsel and filed with the complaint indicated that the case was a "class action under FRCP 23." The Complaint contained a section titled "Class Action Allegations" (p.4). The two state law claims were captioned as class action claims ("All Class Members v. Tyson"). The federal FLSA claim was captioned "All Named Plaintiffs v. Tyson"; it sought relief on behalf of the six named plaintiffs only. See Complaint, Doc. #1.

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, but before that motion was resolved, the case was stayed pending a decision whether the case would proceed as Multi-District Litigation before the MDL Panel. The MDL denied transfer of the case. This Court then granted in part and denied in part the motion to dismiss. See Order (#31) of Oct. 31, 2008. Despite the Court's denial of the motion to dismiss the state claims on preemption grounds, defendant was encouraged to file a prompt motion for summary judgment if there was a collective bargaining agreement that applied to the issues in the case, a fact that was not plead in the Complaint.

Tyson did so, moving for partial summary judgment on preemption grounds, arguing that the state law claims were preempted by the LMRA and the collective bargaining agreement that bound the putative class members. That motion was granted. See Order (#49) of February 9, 2009. In its Order, the Court noted that its substantive ruling eliminated all class action issues, because the remaining FLSA claim was plead on behalf of the six named plaintiffs only. The motion to certify the class was therefore mooted. Id.

The parties then jointly filed an agreed proposed schedule, setting the close of discovery on January 15, 2010, and the filing of dispositive motions by February 22, 2010. No part of that proposed schedule included any reference to or time for briefing a motion for "collective action" treatment under the FLSA.. The Court adopted that schedule. (See Minutes March 12, 2009). The case proceeded through discovery. On January 12, 2010, three days before the close of discovery, plaintiffs served on defendant a notice of Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. The notice includes 15 separate topics seeking expansive information, including but not limited to:

1. information about all employees at defendant's Joslin, Illinois plant, including information about "all" policies, practices and procedures relating to the "type of work" payment of wages, overtime, and hours worked at the plant;

2. knowledge of how many hours per week production employees have worked on average since 2005;

3. the types of safety items worn by employees at the plant;

4. knowledge of the production areas, departments, and staffing levels throughout the plant;

5. practices of individual supervisors.

Defendants served objections to this Notice, as relevant here asserting that each topic was over broad, unduly burdensome, and unlikely to lead to discovery of admissible evidence to the extent the topic sought information about employees other than the six named plaintiffs during the limitations period. Plaintiffs challenged the objections by letter dated January 12, 2010, asserting that the filing of 1474 opt-in consent forms earlier in the case (i.e. before the Order mooting the class certification motion) had, by ...


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