KICIC v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.
ENTRY ON OBJECTION TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER - Defendant's objection to Magistrate Judge LaRue's ruling 54 is SUSTAINED to the extent that it permits discovery solely related to the supervisory status of persons other than Pla intiff Sandra Kicic. The objection otherwise 54 is OVERRULED. Pursuant to the order found at Docket No. 63 , the Defendant's discovery responses are due 14 days from the date of this Entry. The parties shall complete all discovery re lating to the Plaintiff's supervisory status by June 30, 2017. The Plaintiff's response to the motion to compel arbitration shall be filed no later than July 14, 2017. The Defendant's reply shall be filed within 14 days of the response (SEE ENTRY). Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 4/12/2017. (DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
SANDRA KICIC, on behalf of herself and
all others similarly situated,
HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.,
) Cause No. 2:16-cv-197-WTL-DKL
ENTRY ON OBJECTION TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S ORDER
This cause is before the Court on the Defendant’s timely objection1 to Magistrate Judge
LaRue’s Entry and Order on Motion for Reconsideration and Motion for Enlargement of Time to
Respond to Plaintiff’s Discovery Requests. See Dkt. No. 54 (objection); Dkt. No. 52 (entry).
The issues are fully briefed and the Court, being duly advised, SUSTAINS IN PART AND
OVERRULES IN PART the objection to the extent and for the reasons set forth below.
The dispute resolved by Magistrate Judge LaRue’s ruling was whether and to what extent
discovery should proceed in this case before the Plaintiff is required to respond to the
Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. There is no dispute that an arbitration agreement
exists between the Plaintiff and the Defendant; the question is whether that agreement is
enforceable with regard to the Plaintiff’s claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In light of
the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Lewis v. Epic Systems Corp., 823 F.3d 1147 (7th Cir. 2016), it
appears that the answer to that question hinges on whether the Plaintiff was “employed as a
As the Defendant correctly points out in its reply brief, the Plaintiff’s argument that the
Defendant’s objection was untimely is without merit, as it fails to account for the additional three
days added by operation of the applicable version of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(d).
supervisor” such that she was excluded from the definition of employee under the National
Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 152(3).
The Defendant objects to Magistrate Judge LaRue’s ruling on its motion to reconsider
because it permitted the Plaintiff to conduct discovery relating to the Plaintiff’s supervisory
status before responding to the Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. The Defendant’s
position is that before any discovery was permitted, the Plaintiff should have been required to
respond to the motion to compel arbitration and demonstrate that an issue of material fact existed
such that the Court could not resolve the motion without additional evidence that was
unavailable to the Plaintiff absent discovery. To hold otherwise, the Defendant argues, is to risk
permitting the Plaintiff to conduct unnecessary discovery in contravention of the purpose of the
Federal Arbitration Act.
The course of action urged by the Defendant is not unreasonable. Magistrate Judge
LaRue, however, after careful consideration, determined that under the circumstances of this
case, the more appropriate course of action was to permit narrowly tailored discovery regarding
the Plaintiff’s supervisory status before requiring the Plaintiff to respond to the motion to compel
arbitration. Because the Magistrate Judge’s ruling on the motion to compel was a nondispositive
ruling, it is subject to review for clear error. Domanus v. Lewicki, 742 F.3d 290, 295 (7th Cir.
2014); see also Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) (both
establishing standard for reviewing non-dispositive rulings by magistrate judges). The Court
does not find Magistrate Judge LaRue’s decision to permit limited discovery regarding the
Plaintiff’s supervisory status to be clearly erroneous; rather, her reasoning is sound. At most the
Defendant has demonstrated that reasonable minds can differ on the issue, which is insufficient
to support a finding of clear error.
However, the Court finds Magistrate Judge LaRue’s decision to extend discovery beyond
the Plaintiff herself to permit discovery with regard to putative opt-in plaintiffs to be clearly
erroneous. The Court agrees with the Defendant that the threshold issue of whether the
arbitration clause is enforceable as to the Plaintiff must be decided before the Defendant may
reasonably be required to respond to discovery regarding any opt-in plaintiffs. Accordingly, the
Defendant’s objection to Magistrate Judge LaRue’s ruling is SUSTAINED to the extent that it
permits discovery solely related to the supervisory status of persons other than Plaintiff Sandra
Kicic. The objection otherwise is OVERRULED.
Pursuant to the order found at Docket No. 63, the Defendant’s discovery responses are
due 14 days from the date of this Entry. The parties shall complete all discovery relating to
the Plaintiff’s supervisory status by June 30, 2017. The Plaintiff’s response to the motion to
compel arbitration shall be filed no later than July 14, 2017. The Defendant’s reply shall be
filed within 14 days of the response.
SO ORDERED: 4/12/17
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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