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Gremillion v. Grayco Communications, L.P.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 28, 2017


         DIVISION: 1


          Janis Van Meerveld United States Magistrate Judge


         Before the Court is the Motion to Compel filed by the Plaintiff (Rec. Doc. 160). On December 18, 2017, the undersigned conducted a telephone conference and ordered that defendant Grayco Communications, L.P. (“Grayco”) produce Barbara Gray for deposition. The remaining issues in the Motion to Compel are addressed by this ruling. For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED in part.


         Plaintiff Scott Gremillion worked as a cable technician for defendant Grayco Communications, L.P. (“Grayco”) performing cable repair and installation services for customers of Cox Communications Louisiana, LLC (“Cox”). He filed this lawsuit on behalf of himself and others similarly situated on June 13, 2016, alleging that Grayco and Cox were liable under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and Louisiana's wage payment laws, La. Rev. Stat. § 23:631, et seq., for failing to pay him and other technicians for work in excess of 40 hours in a work week “through the guise of the pay-per-point/unilateral charge-back scheme.” (Rec. Doc. 1, ¶13).

         On November 1, 2016, the District Court dismissed Mr. Gremillion's claims under La. Rev. Stat. § 23:631 and § 23:632, but held that he had stated a claim under § 23:635. (Rec. Doc. 41). The parties consented to proceed before the undersigned magistrate judge and on December 8, 2016, the District Judge ordered the matter be referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c). (Rec. Doc. 61). The undersigned granted Cox's motion for summary judgment on the issue of joint employer liability, finding that Cox was not Mr. Gremillion's employer under the FLSA or Louisiana's wage payment laws. (Rec. Doc. 79). Cox was dismissed.

         The Court then granted Mr. Gremillion's motion to conditionally certify this case as a collective action under the FLSA, defining the class as follows: all individuals who worked as a cable technician providing cable repair and installation services for Grayco Communications, L.P., in Louisiana at any time since March 24, 2014 and were paid through a point-based system. (Rec. Doc. 90). The deadline for plaintiffs to join the lawsuit has now passed and the parties are proceeding with discovery.

         At issue in this motion is the discoverability of a settlement agreement (the “Texas Settlement”) that Grayco entered into in an FLSA case that was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 2015, Williams v. Grayco Communication, L.P., No. 4:15-cv-2893 (the “Texas Lawsuit”).

         Law and Analysis

          1. Scope of Discovery

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “parties 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.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id.

         While construing relevance broadly, this Court is anchored by the parties' pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26 advisory committee's notes to 2000 amendment (explaining that in analyzing relevance, the parties should “focus on the actual claims and defenses involved in the action, ” but that “a variety of types of information not directly pertinent to the incident in suit could be relevant to the claims or defenses raised in a given action”); see also XTO Energy, Inc. v. ATD, LLC, No. CIV 14-1021 JB/SCY, 2016 WL 1730171, at *17 (D.N.M. Apr. 1, 2016) (quoting State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Fayda, No. 14CIV9792WHPJCF, 2015 WL 7871037, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2015), aff'd, No. 14CV9792, 2016 WL 4530890 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 24, 2016)) (concluding that following the 2015 amendments to the Rules, “[r]elevance is still to be ‘construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on' any party's claim or defense.'”). Thus, “[t]o implement the rule that discovery must be relevant to the claim or defense of any party, district courts have examined the relationship of the requested discovery and the facts it is intended to uncover to the specific claims and defenses raised by the parties.” Thibault v. BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., No. CIV.A. 07-200, 2008 WL 4808893, at *2 (E.D. La. Oct. 30, 2008) (M.J. Wilkinson). Indeed, the advisory committee's notes to Rule 26 explain that the parties “have no entitlement to discovery to develop new claims or defenses that are not already identified in the pleadings” and the court “has the authority to confine discovery to the claims and defenses asserted in the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 advisory committee's 2000 Amendment notes.

         In addition to being relevant, discovery must be proportional. In determining proportionality, the parties (and the Court ...

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