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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Star Transport, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Diviaion

August 20, 2014

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
STAR TRANSPORT, INC., Defendant,

OPINION

TOM SCHANZLE-HASKINS, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Compel EEOC's Outstanding Discovery (d/e 25). Under the Scheduling Order entered in this case (d/e 13), expert discovery was to be completed by May 30, 2014. By text order of Chief U.S. District Judge Shadid, the fact discovery deadline was extended to May 31, 2014. (Text Order, 3/14/2014)

On May 30, 2014, Defendant Star Transport, Inc. (Star) filed Defendant's Motion to Compel EEOC's Outstanding Discovery (d/e 25) (Motion to Compel). On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed its Response (d/e 29) to the Motion to Compel.

A Motion for Settlement Conference was filed by Star (d/e 24), and was granted (Text Order, 6/20/2014). On July 8, 2014, the Joint Motion of the Parties to Extend Dispositive Motion Deadline and EEOC's Motion to Extend the Final Pretrial Conference Date (d/e 31) was allowed in part. The dispositive motion deadline of July 15, 2014 was vacated and the final pretrial conference set for October 17, 2014 was cancelled. Both of these were to be reset if necessary after the August 5, 2014 hearing before Chief Judge Shadid. (Text Order, 7/8/2014)

On August 5, 2014, a settlement conference was held before Chief Judge Shadid. A settlement was not reached. Chief Judge Shadid ordered that a telephone hearing be set at a later date regarding pending motions and setting a new dispositive motion deadline and pretrial/jury trial dates. The case was then referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins for pending motions and scheduling. The Motion to Compel was one of the pending motions.

The Scheduling Order entered in this case (d/e 13) provided, as is pertinent to this motion, as follows:

Motions to compel and other motions relating to discovery shall be pursued in a diligent and timely manner, but in no event filed more than sixty (60) days following the event... that is the subject of the motion. The parties are required to meet and confer on the discovery dispute as required by Rule 37(a) within the 60-day period. Except for good cause shown, any discovery motion that it not timely filed and any discovery motion that is filed after the discovery deadline will not be considered by the Court.... All motions to compel must contain the certification required by Rule 37 that the parties met and conferred and attempted to resolve the discovery dispute. If the certification is not included, the motion to compel will be denied.

In the Motion to Compel filed by Star, defense counsel makes several representations. First, defense counsel indicates that Star did not file an immediate motion to compel because defense counsel prefers to always try to work out discovery issues between counsel prior to filing a motion. Defense counsel represented that she preferred to try to resolve discovery disputes without the expense of filing a motion to compel. Finally, defense counsel represented that Star only recently learned of some of the discovery issues as EEOC's responses were "misleading as to their completeness".

A description of the general practices of defense counsel regarding discovery is not a substitute for the specific requirements stated above and set forth in the Scheduling Order.

While counsel for the Defendant indicates that she advised the EEOC why Defendant waited to file its motion based on EEOC's actions and advised of Star's desire to try to "work it out" between counsel, the Court must consider whether the Defendant has met the requirement to meet and confer on the specific discovery dispute as required by Rule 37(a) and the Scheduling Order within the 60-day period when the dispute arose. The Court will address each of the requests to compel outstanding discovery separately.

A. INTERROGATORY NO. 2

The filings of the parties indicate that the interrogatory answers of EEOC were served on Star on January 9, 2014. Regarding the answer to Interrogatory No. 2, Defendant contends that EEOC's answer indicated the name of one of the charging party's current employers, but did not give the employer's address as requested. This defect would have been obvious from the interrogatory answer. There is no indication that the Defendant sought to resolve the dispute regarding the failure to provide an address by conferring with Plaintiff's counsel. The Motion to Compel is denied as to Interrogatory No. 2. Defendant did not follow the meet and confer provisions of the Scheduling Order and Rule 37.

B. INTERROGATORY NO. 3, DOCUMENT REQUEST NOS. 2, 13

Regarding Interrogatory No. 3 and Document Requests Nos. 2 and 13, Defendant indicates it sought the total hours worked by the charging parties during their employment with Star and after their terminations by Star. EEOC objected that the interrogatory was overly broad and unduly burdensome. EEOC indicated it would agree to ...


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