Crumpley v. Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 122 Motion to Compel and denying 155 Motion to Compel. See order for further details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Gerald L. Rushfelt on 10/27/17. (hw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
Case No. 16-2298-DDC-GLR
ASSOCIATED WHOLESALE GROCERS,
INC., et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
The Court has before it two motions, each entitled Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (ECF
122 & 155). Each of them asks the Court to compel Defendant Clarence M. Kelley and
Associates, Inc. (CMKA) to produce to Plaintiff documents which Defendant contends to be
either privileged or work product. The Court also addresses Plaintiff’s earlier request for
sanctions.1 (See ECF 141). For the following reasons, the Court denies both motions to compel,
as well as the request for sanctions.
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel (ECF 122), seeking twelve of the fourteen2 emails
listed in the privilege log, which CMKA had submitted in March (the “March Log”). Plaintiff
contends that CMKA’s privilege log fails to comply with the requirements in this District, and
thus all twelve documents should be produced. In response to this motion, CMKA filed an
amended privilege log (the “May Log”) in an attempt to rectify the deficiencies identified by
The Court otherwise granted the motion as to amending the scheduling order and denied the motion as to
Plaintiff’s request for a special master.
CMKA withdrew a claim of privilege as to one document, and another document is referred two twice.
Thus, Plaintiff seeks all documents on the privilege log.
Plaintiff. On June 15, 2017, the day before the then-deadline of discovery, CMKA sent to
Plaintiff its latest amended privilege log (the “June Log”), which blossomed from two pages
(addressing 14 documents) to fifty-seven pages (244 documents). The June Log includes the
fourteen documents of the March and May Logs. In July Plaintiff filed another Motion to
Compel (ECF 155) against CMKA. It seeks all of the approximately 244 documents listed in the
June Log. Because the June Log encompasses all documents Plaintiff seeks to compel, the Court
treats the motions together as a single motion to compel.
II. Legal Standards
The party seeking to assert a privilege has the burden of establishing that it applies.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(5)(A)(ii) provides:
“When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by
claiming that the information is privileged . . . the party must: (i)
expressly make the claim; and (ii) describe the nature of the
withheld documents, communications, or tangible things in a
manner that, without revealing information itself privileged . . .
will enable the parties to assess the claim.”3
Parties make this showing by creating a privilege log, and courts in this District have repeatedly
outlined the criteria a privilege log must contain:
1. A description of the document explaining whether the document
is a memorandum, letter, e-mail, etc.;
2. The date upon which the document was prepared;
3. The date of the document (if different from # 2);
4. The identity of the person(s) who prepared the document;
5. The identity of the person(s) for whom the document was
prepared, as well as the identities of those to whom the document
and copies of the document were directed, “including an
evidentiary showing based on competent evidence supporting any
assertion that the document was created under the supervision of
6. The purpose of preparing the document, including an
evidentiary showing, based on competent evidence, “supporting
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(5)(A)(ii).
any assertion that the document was prepared in the course of
adversarial litigation or in anticipation of a threat of adversarial
litigation that was real and imminent;” a similar evidentiary
showing that the subject of communications within the document
relates to seeking or giving legal advice; and a showing, again
based on competent evidence, “that the documents do not contain
or incorporate non-privileged underlying facts;”
7. The number of pages of the document;
8. The party’s basis for withholding discovery of the document
(i.e., the specific privilege or protection being asserted); and
9. Any other pertinent information necessary to establish the
elements of each asserted privilege.4
At very least a privilege log should contain sufficient information to enable an opposing party
and the court to evaluate the claim of privilege or work product. If a party fails to carry its
burden to establish that the withheld documents are privileged or work product, the court may
conclude that the privilege is waived.5
The briefing of the motions raises some ancillary issues,6 but the primary issue is whether
the attorney-client privilege and work product apply to the documents listed in the logs. For the
following reasons, the Court finds CMKA’s Logs fail to describe the nature of the documents in
a manner that enables Plaintiff or the Court to assess the applicability of the privilege or
In re Syngenta AG MIR 162 Corn Litig., No. 14-MD-2591-JWL, 2017 WL 1106257, at *5 (D. Kan. Mar.
24, 2017) (internal citations omitted).
For instance, in Plaintiff’s first motion to compel before the Court, the documents were inadvertently
produced to Plaintiff. The parties then briefly outline their discussions about returning, withdrawing, or otherwise
sealing the documents. At one point, CMKA suggests it would file a motion to withdraw the documents,
presumably to take advantage of the claw back procedures in the Protective Order (See ECF 32 at ¶18). Because the
inadvertent disclosure only applies to 14 of the 244 documents between the two motions to compel, and because the
parties barely brief the issue, the Court addresses only whether the documents are subject to any privilege and/or
whether such privilege has been waived.
Heavin v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass, No. 02-2572-KHV-DJW, 2004 WL 316072, at *1 (D. Kan. Feb. 3,
None of the Logs contain sufficient information to enable the opposing party and the
Court to evaluate the claimed privilege.8 Specifically, the logs lack “competent evidence” to
support the claims of privilege or work product. The Court cannot reasonably determine whether
the requested protection against discovery applies to the documents listed on the logs.
The March log does not meet the criteria for what a privilege log should contain, because
it fails to list the privileges being asserted.9 Without an explicit privilege reference, opposing
parties and the Court are left to guess which privileges are actually being asserted.10 Statements
are inadequate, if they do no more than imply the asserted privileges. CMKA remedied that
particular defect, however, in its May Log.
The May Log, like the March Log, however, fails to meet another crucial requirement:
competent evidence to support its claim of privilege or work product as to each document.
CMKA argues its affidavit of Rod Smith, CMKA’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
and General Partner, constitutes competent evidence. But that puts the proverbial cart before the
horse. Here, CMKA did not supply the affidavit with its March Log. Our cases have repeatedly
held that the privilege log itself must contain competent evidence. Simply attaching an affidavit
to the response to a motion to compel misses the point of privilege logs: to help the opposing
party to assess a claim of privilege accurately, which in turn should preclude unnecessary
motions to compel. Additionally, if a log is ultimately challenged, the Court can determine from
the log whether or not the privilege has been established by competent evidence. CMKA
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(5)(A)(ii); see also In re Syngenta, 2017 WL 1106257, at *5.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(5)(A)(i).
CMKA points out that Plaintiff knew which privileges were being asserted based on the parties’ email
exchanges. While this is perhaps true, the privileges must be stated explicitly on the Logs. Similarly, CMKA
contends the inclusion of Bates stamps constitutes compliance with the requirement to provide page numbers. The
Court rejects this argument. Privilege logs should contain explicit page counts (i.e. 4 pages), just as CMKA
provided in its May Log.
repeated the deficiency with its June log. It included neither affidavit nor otherwise supporting
facts to support its contentions.
Even if the Court considered Mr. Smith’s affidavit as competent evidence, the Court
would reach the same conclusion. While the affidavit helpfully explains the roles of the persons
mentioned in the privilege log, the affidavit, as evidence, is insufficient to establish all of the
elements of privilege. The affidavit merely recites CMKA’s treatment and approach to
Plaintiff’s KHRC claim(s). In this way, the affidavit is an attempt to apply a blank claim of
privilege upon all the documents on the log. And blanket claims of privilege are improper.11
The affidavit does not explain why any particular document is privileged. For instance, it does
not state that the “Email” with Bates stamps 000833-000834 is privileged because it contains
legal advice, a witness’ statement, the attorney’s impressions of the case, or an evaluation of a
settlement proposal. Finally, the Court cannot consider Mr. Smith’s affidavit as competent
evidence to support the June Log. Were it to apply to the March and May Logs, it then speaks—
at most—to fourteen documents. In contrast, the June Log contains an additional 230
documents. Without subsequent updating, the affidavit could hardly constitute evidence
sufficient to establish the elements of privilege as to each of the new documents.
For these reasons the Court finds that CMKA’s logs are inadequate. The logs lack
sufficient information to enable the opposing party—and the Court—to evaluate the claimed
privileges or work product as to each of the documents. CMKA fails to carry its burden to
establish that any of the documents withheld are subject to privilege. “In the absence of
evidence indicating bad faith on the part of [CMKA], however, the Court will decline to find
Heavin, 2004 WL 316072, at *2.
waiver and will order [CMKA] to submit [another] amended privilege log that fully and
adequately complies with the requirements set forth herein.”12
B. Plaintiff’s Request for Sanctions
The motions and the briefing suggest that the parties and their counsel have been
unnecessarily contentious in pursuing their discovery or in opposing it. And they suggest and
request, accordingly, that the Court impose appropriate sanctions against the opposition. Having
reviewed the exhibits to their memoranda, the Court could perhaps justifiably do so. But it
declines to do so. And it finds it unnecessary to do so. In some instances it would be difficult to
determine which of the parties—and possibly more than one—should bear the burden of a
The Court need not resolve this subsidiary issue. Plaintiff’s Certificate of Compliance
(ECF 142-1) does not address the issue of sanctions. D. Kan. Rule 37.2 states, in pertinent part:
The court will not entertain any motion to resolve a discovery
dispute pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 through 37 . . . unless the
attorney for the moving party has conferred or has made
reasonable effort to confer with opposing counsel concerning the
matter in dispute prior to the filing of the motion. Every
certification required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c) and 37 and this rule
related to the efforts of the parties to resolve discovery or
disclosure disputes must describe with particularity the steps taken
by all attorneys to resolve the issues in dispute.
Plaintiff’s Certificate of Compliance discusses only his attempt to resolve the scheduling portion
of his motion. Neither the request for a special master nor the request for sanctions are
mentioned. Accordingly, the Court declines to entertain the motion for sanctions.
Aside the lack of compliance with the rule, and for the reasons already stated, the Court
finds no reasonable need for imposing sanctions on any party or counsel—other than a directive
Id. at *1.
to all the parties and their counsel that the Court expects them to pursue their representation of
their clients not only with zeal, but also with professional competence and courtesy toward their
opposition at all times.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT that Plaintiff’s Motions to Compel
(ECF 122 & 155) are denied. The Court will require, however, that Defendant CMKA comply
with the following directions, however, if it intends to retain any privilege or protection as work
product for the documents that are the subject of these motions: On or before November 13,
2017, Defendant CMKA shall provide a privilege log that contains the following:
1. A description of the document explaining whether the document is a memorandum,
letter, e-mail, etc.;
2. The date upon which the document was prepared;
3. The date of the document (if different from # 2);
4. The identity of the person(s) who prepared the document, along with their role(s) in the
company and litigation;
5. The identity of the person(s) for whom the document was prepared, as well as the
identities of those to whom the document and copies of the document were directed, “including
an evidentiary showing based on competent evidence supporting any assertion that the document
was created under the supervision of an attorney” and the role(s) of such person(s) in the
defendant company and in this litigation.
6. The purpose of preparing the document, including an evidentiary showing, based on
competent evidence, “supporting any assertion that the document was prepared in the course of
adversarial litigation or in anticipation of a threat of adversarial litigation that was real and
imminent;” a similar evidentiary showing that the subject of communications within the
document relates to seeking or giving legal advice; and a showing, based on competent evidence,
“that the documents do not contain or incorporate non-privileged underlying facts”;
7. The number of pages of the document and any attachments thereto (e.g. 4 pages);
8. The party’s basis for withholding discovery of the document (i.e., the specific privilege
or protection being asserted); and
9. Any other pertinent information necessary to establish the elements of the privilege or
character as work product.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the sanctions request in Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend
the Scheduling Order and for Sanctions (ECF 141) is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated October 27, 2017, at Kansas City, Kansas.
S/ Gerald L. Rushfelt
Gerald L. Rushfelt
U.S. Magistrate Judge
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