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Randleman v. Louisiana Sugar Refining, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 2, 2018


         SECTION “B” (2)



         This is a Title VII case in which plaintiff, Terrance L. Randleman, asserts claims of race and age discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation, culminating in his wrongful termination from his employment. Two motions are pending before me. Defendant, Louisiana Sugar Refining, LLC (“Louisiana Sugar”), filed a motion for entry of a protective order. Record Doc. No. 44. Randleman filed a motion to compel discovery from defendant, which in some respects implicates defendant's motion for a protective order. Record Doc. No. 45. Each party filed a timely memorandum in opposition to the other's motion. Record Doc. Nos. 53, 54. Plaintiff was permitted to file a reply. Record Doc. Nos. 58, 59, 60. Oral argument was conducted on May 2, 2018. Having considered the motion papers, the record as a whole, the applicable law and the arguments of counsel, IT IS ORDERED that both motions are GRANTED IN PART, DENIED IN PART AND DEFERRED IN PART as follows.


         Although the parties agree that a protective order covering some materials to be produced by defendant is appropriate, counsel have been unable to agree on a form of order. I find that a protective order is needed to protect Louisiana Sugar's confidential, proprietary and trade secret information and to preserve the privacy interests of third persons who are not parties to the lawsuit about whom information might be produced by defendant in the course of discovery. I decline to adopt either of the proposed orders. Accordingly, Louisiana Sugar's motion is granted in part and denied in part. The following protective order is adequate and is hereby entered.

         IT IS ORDERED that the parties may designate materials of the sort identified above as confidential and subject to this protective order. All such materials must be clearly marked and maintained as confidential and used only for purposes of this litigation and must not be disclosed to any one except parties to this litigation, court personnel, the parties' counsel of record, experts retained in connection with this litigation, and testifying witnesses during depositions, trials or evidentiary hearings in open court. Except for court personnel, all persons to whom such information is disclosed must sign an affidavit that must be filed into the record, agreeing to the terms of the protective order and submitting to the jurisdiction of this court for enforcement of those terms. Confidential material may be submitted to the court only in strict compliance with Local Rule 5.6. Any party challenging the propriety of a confidentiality designation must do so by motion, noticed for hearing. If the parties agree to add other terms to this protective order, counsel must confer immediately and submit by motion any proposed agreed-upon protective order.

         Plaintiff's request in his opposition memorandum for an award of fees and costs associated with defendant's motion for protective order is denied. This motion has been granted in part and denied in part. Under these circumstances, I find that a reasonable apportionment of expenses associated with this motion is that each side should bear its own. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(C).


         Louisiana Sugar provided timely written responses and objections to plaintiff's requests for production and interrogatories. Randleman seeks to compel production of materials responsive to 15 of his 16 requests for production (excluding only Request for Production No. 14), and to compel more complete responses to his Interrogatories Nos. 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 17. He also asks the court to order defendant to produce a privilege log for all materials withheld on the basis of any privilege.

         A. Interrogatories

         The motion is granted as to Interrogatory No. 1, a routine request that defendant identify all persons who assisted with preparation of its answers to interrogatories. Louisiana Sugar did not object to this interrogatory, but did not answer it. A full answer must be provided.

         The motion is granted as to Interrogatory No. 2. All objections are overruled. The interrogatory seeks the names of persons whom defendant knows have relevant knowledge and does not require defendant to identify persons outside of its own knowledge. The court's scheduling order is a disclosure order. It does not preclude plaintiff from discovery at an earlier date of the names and expected testimony of witnesses whom Louisiana Sugar intends to call at trial. On the other hand, a response that defendant does not yet know whom it will call at trial is a legitimate answer, as long as it is true. Louisiana Sugar must supplement its answer to this interrogatory.

         Defendant's objections are sustained and the motion is denied as to Interrogatory No. 4. Defendant's answer to this interrogatory is sufficient, subject to the requirement that defendant must supplement its response immediately upon additional information becoming known, Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)(1)(B), and describing any information being withheld on the asserted work product and privilege grounds in the required privilege log. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(5).

         As to Interrogatory No. 8, the motion is granted in part and denied in part. Louisiana Sugar's objections to the lack of any time limit and overbreadth are sustained as to this request for all complaints made and disciplinary measures taken against Louisiana Sugar employees Jason Lear, Chuck Melancon and Matt Shexnayder at any time during their employment. Randleman alleges either that these employees were similarly situated to him, but were not similarly disciplined for similar conduct, or that they were managers responsible for creating a hostile work environment. Plaintiff alleges that he was hired by defendant on “October 9, 2010, after which time he began experiencing discrimination based on his race, color, and age.” Record Doc. No. 19 at p. 5. The motion is therefore granted in part, in that the request is limited to the time period of January 1, 2010 until the present and to complaints made and disciplinary measures taken against these employees similar to those that plaintiff alleges (including those described in the answer to Interrogatory No. 4) in his amended complaint in this case (e.g., Record Doc. No. 19 at ΒΆΒΆ 3, 4, 17-21, 24-26 and 29) regarding race or age discrimination, ...

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