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Barker v. Local 150

March 11, 2010

TAMMY BARKER, TIMOTHY ROBERT BARKER, AND MELISA MERRYMAN, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ON BEHALF OF THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LOCAL 150, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Michael Mahoney, Magistrate Judge United States District Court

Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs in this case allege that Local 150 violated the Driver Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721 et seq. ("DPPA") by obtaining, disclosing, and using Plaintiffs' personal information contained in motor vehicle records for purposes not permitted under the DPPA. (First Amended Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiffs allege that Local 150 obtained and stored Plaintiffs' personal information on compact discs and microfiche. (Id. ¶¶ 18(b) & (c), 19.) Plaintiffs have also discovered evidence suggesting that Local 150 might have enlisted the help of the Indiana Illinois Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting ("IIIFFC") to search electronic databases such as LexisNexis and Westlaw to obtain Plaintiffs' personal information in violation of the DPPA. (See Soria Aff. ¶ 6.)

Before the court are six discovery motions. First is Plaintiffs' motion to compel a response to Plaintiffs' interrogatory number 12 ("Pls.' Mot."). Second is the IIIFFC's motion to intervene for the limited purpose of moving to quash Plaintiffs' subpoenas served on LexisNexis and Westlaw ("IIIFFC's Mot."). Third is third-party defendant Merryman's motion to quash or modify Local 150's subpoena served on Plaintiffs' counsel, Robert Hanlon ("Merryman's Mot."). Fourth is non-party Hanlon's motion to quash Local 150's subpoenas served on him, individually, and on the "Keeper of Records of the Law Offices of Robert T. Hanlon" ("Hanlon's Mot."). Fifth is Plaintiffs, Hanlon, and the Law Offices of Robert Hanlon & Associates, P.C.'s motion to quash Local 150's subpoena served on the "Keeper of the Records of the Law Offices of Robert T. Hanlon" ("Pl. & Hanlon's Mot."). Finally, sixth is Local 150's motion to strike Plaintiffs and Hanlon's motion to quash for failing to notice the motion for presentment pursuant to the local rules of the Northern District of Illinois ("Def.'s Mot.").

II. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel

Interrogatory number 12 states the following, "Identify each and every statement contained in the Affidavit of Linda Soria with which you disagree, and describe in detail why you disagree with such Statement(s). (A copy of the Affidavit of Linda Soria is attached hereto as Exhibit 1)." (Pl.'s Mot. Ex. 5.) Local 150 objected to the interrogatory stating the following:

[The interrogatory] asks [Local 150] to comment improperly on the testimony of a potential witness. Furthermore, Local 150 objects to any reference to the Affidavit of Linda Soria because on information and belief, such affidavit was obtained unlawfully, as a result of coercion and in violation of the Canons of Ethics and/or Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct governing Illinois attorneys. (Id.)

Rule 33 provides, "An interrogatory may relate to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b). An interrogatory is not objectionable merely because it asks for an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)(2). Rule 26(b) provides that parties "may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). The court must limit discovery otherwise allowed if "the burden and expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(iii).

Plaintiffs' interrogatory is inartfully drawn. It is over broad, imprecise, and vague. Particularly problematic is that part of the interrogatory that asks Local 150 to "describe in detail why" it disagrees with statements made in Soria's affidavit. The court is unsure what information this question seeks to extract from Local 150. The court is further unsure how Local 150 could adequately answer this question. As the interrogatory now stands, the burden placed on Local 150 to formulate an answer outweighs the benefit that Plaintiffs are likely to receive.

Local 150 did not raise applicable objections to the interrogatory and the objections stated are denied. Still, Plaintiff's motion to compel a response to Interrogatory number 12 is denied without prejudice. The interrogatory is stricken. Plaintiffs may rephrase the interrogatory and resubmit it to Local 150 by March 24, 2010.

III. The IIIFFC's Motion to Intervene and to Quash

The IIIFFC seeks to intervene in this case for the limited purpose of moving to quash subpoenas that Plaintiffs served on LexisNexis and Westlaw. The IIIFFC represents that it "monitors compliance by employers on publicly funded construction projects in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa to insure [sic] that employees on those projects are paid in accordance with applicable federal and state prevailing rate laws and regulations that govern work on such projects." (IIIFFC Mot. ¶ 4.) The IIIFFC also provides information gathered on employers to state and local government officials to further compliance by the employers, as well as to facilitate changes in the existing laws and regulations. (Id.) Part of the IIIFFC's investigations "may involve the use of computerized searches to ascertain the identities and contact information for affected employees, witnesses and contractors which may be working on" publicly funded construction projects. (IIIFFC Reply 2.) Those searches may take place in databases of drivers' records found on LexisNexis or Westlaw.

The subpoenas that Plaintiffs served on LexisNexis and Westlaw require the production of certain documents that relate to the IIIFFC searching, obtaining, or using drivers' records available to IIIFFC on LexisNexis and Westlaw. (IIIFFC Mot. Exs. A & B.) ...


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