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Barnett v. Magellan Health, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 1, 2018

TOM BARNETT
v.
MAGELLAN HEALTH, INC. PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS MAGELLAN HEALTH SERVICES, INC. ALSO KNOWN AS MAGELLAN OF LOUISIANA

          ORDER

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Motion to Compel Discovery Responses and for Attorney's Fees (R. Doc. 19) filed by Plaintiff on March 7, 2018. Defendant filed its Opposition (R. Doc. 23) on March 28, 2018.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff initiated this litigation with the filing of his Complaint (R. Doc. 1) on March 9, 2017. Therein, Plaintiff alleges that his employment with Defendant was terminated in December 2015, despite alleged promises made by Defendant of continued employment. Plaintiff brings his claims pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and La. R.S. 51:2231, et seq. More specifically, Plaintiff asserts that he began working for Defendant in July 2012 as a Senior Network Business Analyst of the Provider Network section, and in this role, created and prepared all Provider Network reports required by DHH. (R. Doc. 1 at 4). He alleges that in August 2015, though other employees were laid off, he was offered continued employment, but was subsequently terminated without warning in December 2015. (R. Doc. 1 at 5).

         Defendant denies that it improperly discriminated against Plaintiff due to his age. (R. Doc. 10). Defendant also offers certain Affirmative Defenses and arguments in support of its termination of Plaintiff, two of which being most pertinent to the discussion herein. First, Defendant raises an affirmative defense that Plaintiff's termination was based on a budgeting decision that led to the conclusion that Plaintiff's position could be eliminated because of automation of same. (R. Doc. 10 at 9). Second, although not raised in its affirmative defenses, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's termination was the result of a reduction in force because of Defendant's loss of a majority of the contract it had with Louisiana DHH. (R. Doc. 23 at 1).

         Plaintiff propounded his Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents, at issue in this Motion, on June 9, 2017. (R. Doc. 19-2 at 2; R. Doc. 19-3; R. Doc. 19-6). Defendant provided its answers to the Interrogatories and Requests for Production on July 17, 2017 (R. Doc. 19-4; R. Doc. 19-7), and supplemental answers to the Interrogatories and Requests for Production on September 11, 2017 (R. Doc. 19-5; R. Doc. 19-8). The parties represent they attempted to resolve their differences, but were unable to do so, necessitating the filing of this Motion.

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         “Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery if it determines that: “(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C).

         “The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Rule 26(c)'s “good cause” requirement indicates that the party seeking a protective order has the burden “to show the necessity of its issuance, which contemplates a particular and specific demonstration of fact as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements.” In re Terra Int'l, Inc., 134 F.3d 302, 306 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting United States v. Garrett, 571 F.2d 1323, 1326 n.3 (5th Cir. 1978)).

         B. Analysis

         1. Interrogatory No. 8

         In Interrogatory No. 8, Plaintiff asks the Defendant to “identify, including name, address, telephone number, and employer, each and every person who, on behalf of Magellan, performed work on contracts with Louisiana DHH and who has been terminated, laid off, and/or whose employment with Magellan was not continued since August 1, 2015.” (R. Doc. 19-3 at 10). Defendant objected to this interrogatory, arguing it was “overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not reasonably limited in scope because it seeks information that is not proportional to the needs of the case or probative of the claims and defenses in the case.” (R. Doc. 19-5 at 8). Plaintiff argues that this information is relevant because Defendant has argued that Plaintiff's termination was part of a reduction in force that began in August 2015. (R. Doc. 19-2 at 9). In response, Defendant re-iterates its position that the request is overly broad and unduly burdensome. (R. Doc. 23 at 3-4). Defendant also notes that it offered to supplement its response to Interrogatory No. 8 with the “names, job titles, and ages of any former Magellan employees who performed task(s) in support of Defendant's contract with DHH who were laid off between August 2015 and February 2016 because of the RIF implemented by Defendant due to the loss of the majority of Defendant's contract with Louisiana DHH.” (R. Doc. 23 at 4).

         The information sought by Plaintiff in Interrogatory No. 8 is, at the very least, relevant to the discovery of potentially similarly-situated employees or former employees of Magellan, as well as to Magellan's affirmative defense that Plaintiff was terminated as part of a reduction in force. To the extent it requests personal information, the responses to Interrogatory No. 8 can be designated confidential pursuant to the Protective Order in place. See R. Doc. 13.

         To avoid any confusion as to whether the Interrogatory covers those never employed by Magellan, Interrogatory No. 8 is appropriately limited to employees / former employees who performed tasks in support of Magellan's contract with Louisiana DHH. Lastly, the temporal scope of Interrogatory No. 8 is also overly broad. Plaintiff alleges that terminations began in August of 2015, and that he was terminated in December 2015. (R. Doc. 1 at 5-6). The Court finds it appropriate, therefore, to limit the temporal scope of Interrogatory No. 8 from August 1, 2015 to August 1, 2016. Accordingly, Interrogatory No. 8 will be limited to the “names, address, and telephone number of each and every employee / former employee of Magellan who performed tasks in support of Magellan's contract with Louisiana DHH and who has been terminated, laid off, and/or whose employment with Magellan was not continued between August 1, 2015 through August 1, 2016.”

         IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (R. Doc. 19) is GRANTED as to Interrogatory No. 8.

         2. Interrogatory Nos. 16, 18, 20, and 21

         Plaintiff argues that Interrogatory Nos. 16, 18, 20, and 21 seek information related to Defendant's Affirmative Defenses and are, therefore, discoverable. Defendant, with regard to Interrogatory Nos. 18 and 21, suggests that it offered to provide responses so long as Plaintiff stipulated that Defendant would not waive any attorney client or work product privilege. (R. Doc. 23 at 5). The following interrogatories and responses are at issue:

Interrogatory No. 16: Please identify and describe in detail the claims and/or portions of claims asserted by Tom Barnett that “are barred because they are beyond the scope of Plaintiff's administrative charge” as set forth and alleged in Magellan's Affirmative Defense and/or Avoidance No. 9.
Answer to Interrogatory No. 16: Objection. This interrogatory seeks the legal reasoning and theories of Defendant's contentions. Defendant is not required to prepare the Plaintiff's case.
Interrogatory No. 18: Please identify and describe in detail any and all claims that Magellan alleges “are barred by the applicable statute of limitations and/or prescriptive period” as set forth in your ...

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