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Jenkins v. White Castle Management Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 3, 2014



ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge.

Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's second motion to compel. [Dkt. #75.] For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion to compel is granted.


This case was brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and filed in September of 2012. The initial Plaintiff, Jimmy Jenkins, also brought FLSA retaliation claims, alleging he was subject to numerous retaliations based on his requests for proper payment of wages, including overtime wages.

The parties have been conducting discovery since February, 2013. [dkt. #12]. While conducting discovery, Mr. Jenkins filed an initial motion to compel against White Castle. [dkt. #29]. In an Opinion and Order, dated October 17, 2013, the District Court granted in large part Plaintiff's motion to compel White Castle to answer the disputed discovery requests. [dkt #44]. In that order, the Court specifically directed White Castle to respond to certain discovery requests and set the breadth in which it must respond.

Subsequently, Plaintiff Candace Roberts became a second named party in this case on November 20, 2013. [ See Dkt. #62]. Ms. Roberts' claims also included claims of FLSA retaliation based on requests for proper payment of wages in July - September of 2013. Initially, Ms. Roberts' FLSA retaliation claims were limited to employment suspensions and harassment retaliations. Ms. Roberts was deposed on December 16, 2013. On December 23, 2013, Ms. Roberts was terminated from White Castle, allegedly as a result of a customer complaint that occurred on November 30, 2013.

Plaintiff issued a second motion to compel, requesting documents related to Ms. Roberts' termination and for similarly situated employees, as she believed her termination was due to her joining the FLSA case and/or asking for her overtime wages. White Castle produced a number of documents in response. However, Plaintiff had some issues and addressed those concerns in a correspondence dated February 5, 2014. (Exhibit One, February 5, 2014 correspondence). On February 10, 2014, Defendant responded and agreed to correct two issues; one of which is still in discussion and not subject to this Motion. (Exhibit Two, February 10, 2014 correspondence). All of the disputed issues were not resolved by the 37.2 communications, and the parties now seek the Court's assistance.

Standard of Review

The district court exercises significant discretion in ruling on a motion to compel. The district court may grant or deny the motion in whole or in part, and similar to ruling on a request for a protective order under Rule 26(c), the district court may fashion a ruling appropriate for the circumstances of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4)(B), (c). Thus, a district court is not limited to either compelling or not compelling a discovery request; in making its ruling, a district court should independently determine the proper course of discovery based upon the arguments of the parties. See, Gile v. United Airlines, Inc ., 95 F.3d 492, 496 (7th Cir. 1996). Courts have discretion to limit the extent of discovery after considering "[if] the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit... the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(c)(iii).

Where the party from whom the documents are requested objects to the request, the party seeking the request may move for an order to compel production. Gile v. United Airlines, Inc ., 95 F.3d 496. The Seventh Circuit, however, has often warned that "discovery is not to be used as a fishing expedition." E.E.O.C. v. Harvey L. Walner & Associates , 91 F.3d 963, 971-972 (7th Cir. 1996). Accord Brenneman v. Knight , 297 Fed.Appx. 534, 538, 2008 WL 4748516, 2 (7th Cir. 2008) ("But requiring the staff to conduct a fishing expedition, particularly of the magnitude Brenneman requested, would have imposed too great a burden.")

There is a strong presumption toward public disclosure of court files and documents." In re Bank One Secs. Litig ., 222 F.R.D. 582, 585 (N.D. Ill. 2004)(citing Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court , 457 U.S. 596, 603, 102 S.Ct. 2613, 73 L.Ed.2d 248 (1982)). The Seventh Circuit has held that "[i]nformation that affects the disposition of litigation belongs in the public record unless a statute or privilege justifies nondisclosure." United States v. Foster , 564 F.3d 852, 853 (7th Cir. 2009). Moreover, if a party claims that injury will result from public disclosure of certain information, it must provide support for such a statement. Bank One , 222 F.R.D. at 588 (citing Baxter Int'l , 297 F.3d at 547). Finally, after a court enters a protective order, "a party must continue to show good cause for confidentiality when challenged." Id . at 586 (citing Union Oil Co. of Cal. v. Leavell , 220 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2000).


Plaintiff's second motion to compel asks the Court to consider the following: 1) removing the designation of confidential from several documents; 2) compelling the production of documents without redaction of information; 3) requiring the Defendant to stop future redaction of any information of documents produced; and 4) ordering Defendant to produce documents on an ongoing basis. Overall, the Court finds Plaintiff's requests reasonable. The protective order entered was designed for the pending ...

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