Rose et al v. Computer Sciences Corporation
ORDER & REASONS granting in part and denying in part 57 Motion to Compel as set forth in document. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby on 5/25/2017. (mmm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
STEVE ROSE, ET AL
COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION
SECTION: “E” (4)
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendant Computer Science Corporation’s Motion to Compel
Plaintiffs’ Discovery Responses (R. Doc. 57) seeking an order of the Court to compel twenty-six
(26) Plaintiffs to provided responses to the Defendant’s first and second round of discovery
requests that have been pending since August 12, 2016 and December 5, 2016, respectively. The
motion is opposed. R. Doc. 63. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
This diversity action was filed in the District Court on March 13, 2015. R. Doc. 1. In the
initial complaint, sixty-six (66) individual Plaintiffs filed suit against Computer Sciences
Corporation (“CSC”) for breaching their employment contracts. Id. In particular, the Plaintiffs
allege that in 2006 CSC received a number of contracts with the Department of Defense to provide
services in Kuwait and Afghanistan, including the installation and repair of electronic jamming
devices on military combat vehicles. R. Doc. 1, p. 5. To perform those contracts, CSC allegedly
recruited a number of United States citizens to work overseas. Id. When CSCS offered an
individual a job, it would send an offer letter and a “Foreign Travel” letter. Id. The offer letter
quoted a salary of about $65,000—which the Plaintiffs allege amounted to less than $15 an hour
as they worked eighty-four (84) hours per week—and the Foreign Travel letter described fringe
benefits including certain discretionary payments. Id.
Allegedly, in 2009, CSC changed its offer letter to include an hourly rate that averaged $32
an hour and a quoted annualized amount of the hourly rate multiplied by 2080—or forty (40) hours
for fifty-two (52) weeks a year. However, CSC allegedly still required its employees to work
eighty-four (84) hours per week. Again in 2010, CSC changed its offer letter to remove any
reference to an annualized amount. Id.
The Plaintiffs allege that CSC never intended to pay the quoted annual rate for all hours
work. Id. at p. 6. Rather, the Plaintiffs argue that CSC paid the flat annualized amount based on a
forty-hour week while requiring the Plaintiffs to work eighty-four-hour weeks. Id. As such, CSC
allegedly paid the Plaintiffs less than half of the agreed rate. Id. As such, the Plaintiffs filed the
instant action seeking damages based on the agreed hourly rate for all hours worked; a statutory
penalty of 90 days wages under Louisiana Revised Statute § 23:631; and reasonable legal fees and
prejudgment interest. Id. at p. 7.
On July 30, 2015, an additional fourteen (14) Plaintiffs joined the lawsuit. R. Doc. 15.
Another thirty-one (31) Plaintiffs joined on September 12, 2016. R. Doc. 35. As of January 25,
2017, ninety-five (95) Plaintiffs remained in the case.
At this time, CSC has filed a motion to compel discovery responses from twenty-six (26)
of the Plaintiffs who have not yet responded to discovery requests propounded on them. R. Doc.
57-1, p. 4. CSC states that has conferenced with Plaintiffs’ counsel about the missing discovery,
including as recently as April 19, 2017 following an order from the District Court to do so. See R.
Doc. 55. CSC argues that following an extended deadline of April 28, 2017 counsel for CSC and
the Plaintiffs agreed in principle to dismiss all Plaintiffs’ who failed to provide complete responses
to the discovery request by May 20, 217. R. Doc. 57-1, p. 5-6. However, the Parties were unable
to agree on the specific terms. Id. at p. 6. As such, CSC filed the instant motion to compel. In
addition seeking to compel discovery responses by a date certain, CSC requests that the Court
dismiss with prejudice those Plaintiffs that fail to comply with the Court’s order. CSC also seeks
an award of fees in connection with the instant motion.
The Plaintiffs have responded to the motion. R. Doc. 63. The Plaintiffs argue that there has
been difficulty responding because of logistics given that all of the Plaintiffs worked for CSC
overseas and that many of the Plaintiffs still work overseas for other military contractors. Plaintiffs
argue that they do not oppose the motion to compel discovery responses. Rather, the Plaintiffs’
counsel argues that—while he has become somewhat frustrated in an inability to hear from some
Plaintiffs and agrees to dismiss Plaintiffs that do no eventually respond—any dismissal should be
Standard of Review
Discovery of documents, electronically stored information, and things is governed by
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34. Rule 34 allows a party to request the production of “any
designated documents or electronically stored information” or “any tangible things.” Id. Similarly,
Rule 33 allows a party to serve another party written interrogatories which “must, to the extent it
is not objected to, be answered separately and fully in writing under oath.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(3).
Both Rule 33 and 34 allow a party to ask interrogatories and request production to the extent of
Rule 26(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)(2); 34(a).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provides sanctions for failure to cooperate in discovery.
Rule 37(a) allows a party in certain circumstances to move for an order compelling discovery from
another party. In particular, Rule 37(a)(3)(b)(iii)-(iv) allows a party seeking discovery to move for
an order compelling an answer or production of documents where a party “fails to answer an
interrogatory” or “fails to produce documents.” An “evasive or incomplete” answer or production
is treated the same as a complete failure to answer or produce. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(4).
In addition to alleging that the responding party has failed to properly cooperate with
discovery, a motion to compel under Rule 37(a) must also “include a certification that the movant
has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make
disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 31(a)(1).
Note, if the motion is granted, the court “must, after giving an opportunity to be heard,
require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising
that conduct, or both to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion,
including attorney's fees.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(5)(A). However, the Court will not order payment
if the opposing party’s nondisclosure was “substantially justified” or circumstances make the
award unjust. Id.
For the instant motions to compel, CSC argues that a number of Plaintiffs have failed to
properly respond to its interrogatories and requests for production of documents. R. Doc. 57.CSC
has conferred with the Plaintiffs as required under Rule 37(a). At this time, the Plaintiffs have not
yet responded to the discovery requests or provided their initial disclosures and do not oppose the
motion to compel. Therefore, the Court grants the CSC’s motion to compel. Additionally, the
Court will require responses to be delivered no later than May 30, 2017, which appears agreeable
to all Parties. R. Doc. 59; R. Doc. 61.
Moreover, because the motion to compel will be been granted, the Court may impose
reasonable expenses in making the instant motion to compel on the Plaintiffs as CSC has requested.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(5)(A). However, the Court does not find that the circumstances here warrant
an award of fees. It appears that Plaintiffs’ counsel has been diligent in working to respond to the
discovery requests and supply those responses from the Plaintiffs that he has received—which
given the number of Plaintiffs is no small task. Moreover, the Plaintiffs’ appear to be attempting
to work with the CSC to resolve the discovery issues and advance the litigation. As such, the Court
denies the request for fees.
Finally, the Court denies the motion to the extent that CSC seek an order dismissing with
prejudice those Plaintiffs that do not respond by this order’s deadline. To contemplate dismissal
of Plaintiffs at this time strikes the Court as premature. The Plaintiffs should be given an
opportunity to follow this Court’s order. And, if the Plaintiffs still do not respond, then CSC may
file a motion seeking appropriate sanctions for violating this Court’s order or the Plaintiffs may
voluntarily seek a dismissal order.
IT IS ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion to Compel Plaintiffs’ Discovery
Responses (R. Doc. 57) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED to the extent that the
Plaintiffs must reply to the Defendant’s discovery request no later than May 30, 2017.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion is DENIED to the extent that the Defendant
seeks an award of attorneys’ fees.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 25th day of May 2017.
KAREN WELLS ROBY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?