Cazorla v. Koch Foods of Mississippi, LLC et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 327 Motion to Compel; granting in part and denying in part 329 Motion for Reconsideration ; granting in part and denying in part 361 Motion to Strike ; granting 368 Motion for Leave to File; granting in part and denying in part 371 Motion to Strike ; granting 383 Motion for Leave to File; granting 387 Motion for Leave to File Signed by Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball on 1/24/14 (dfk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
MARIA CAZORLA, et al.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:10cv135-DPJ-FKB
Consolidated Civil Action
KOCH FOODS OF MISSISSIPPI,
LLC, and JESSIE ICKOM
This employment discrimination action is before the Court on the motions [327 and
329] of Defendant Koch Foods of Mississippi, LLC (Koch Foods) to compel U visa
information and to reconsider this court’s protective order of November 30, 2012 .
Having considered the motions, Plaintiffs’ responses, Koch’s reply, Plaintiffs’ surrebuttal,1
and the briefs of amici curae,2 the Court concludes that the motions should be granted in
part and denied in part.
This action arises out of alleged acts of harassment and abuse of Hispanic workers
by their supervisor, Jessie Ickom, in the debone department of Koch Foods’ Morton,
Mississippi poultry processing plant. Previously, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a
protective order preventing Koch Foods from obtaining discovery concerning immigration
status and related information of the individual plaintiffs, claimants, and witnesses. In so
doing, the Court, citing, inter alia, In re Reyes, 814 F.2d 168 (5th Cir. 1987) noted the
Plaintiffs’ motion  to file a surrebuttal in opposition to Koch Foods’s motion is
The motion of the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations  to
file amicus briefs in opposition to Koch Foods’s motions is hereby granted.
chilling or in terrorum effect inquiry into such matters can have on the assertion of workers’
rights under the employment discrimination statutes. The Court went on to conclude that
the proper analysis was to balance the likely relevance of the information sought by Koch
Foods with the burden that the discovery would place on the litigants and on the public’s
interest in enforcement of Title VII. That analysis led the Court to conclude that
immigration status and related information was not discoverable, as any possible
relevancy of this information was outweighed by its chilling effect.
In its motions now before the Court, Koch Foods seeks once again to obtain
information related to immigration status. However, it now focuses on one particular area
not raised earlier: discovery concerning the individual plaintiffs’ and claimants’ attempts to
obtain U visas T visas,3 or other immigration benefits that may be available to them
because of the allegations they have made. It is Koch Foods’s contention that some of the
allegations made by the individual plaintiffs and claimants, particularly claims of sexual and
physical assaults and extortion, are false and were made solely for the purpose of
obtaining such benefits. Koch Foods argues that this possibility is particularly real given
the fact that the EEOC is one of the law enforcement agencies that can certify an
applicant’s cooperation to support the granting of a U visa. See 8 C.F.R. 214.14(a)(2).
Thus, Koch Foods argues that U visa applications are relevant to that defense.
A U visa provides temporary legal status and work eligibility for up to four years to
unauthorized immigrants who are victims of qualifying criminal activity, including sexual
assaults, felonious assaults, and extortion. See 8 C.F.R. § 214.14(a)(9). A T visa
provides comparable benefits to victims of human trafficking. See 8 C.F.R. § 214.11.
A threshold matter before the Court are the motions of Plaintiffs [361 and 371] to
strike certain portions of Koch Foods’s motions, memoranda, and supporting documents.
Plaintiffs argue that Koch Foods’s so-called evidence of fabrication of claims as part of a
scheme to obtain legal status in this country consists of mere conjecture and speculation.
The Court agrees with Plaintiffs’ characterization of many of Koch Foods statements.
However, the Court concludes that striking portions of Koch Foods’s filings is neither
practical nor necessary. The motion is denied, except to the extent that the Court has
disregarded those allegations of Koch Foods that are unsupported by any evidence.
Indeed, the real issue is not whether Koch Foods has or has not uncovered
evidence of a scheme to fabricate the allegations against it. The issue is the relevance of
the information sought by Koch Foods to the claims and defenses in this action. Koch
foods has raised a legitimate defense regarding U visas, T visas, or other immigration
benefits, and it is entitled to pursue discovery, including visa applications, that supports the
defense. See Camayo v. John Peroulis & Sons Sheep, Inc., 2012 WL 5931716 (D. Colo.
Nov. 27, 2012) (allowing discovery of U visa and T visa information on grounds that it was
relevant to claims or defenses); EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., 2013 WL 3940674 (E.D.
Wash. July 31, 2013) (same regarding T visa information). The relevance of this
information clearly outweighs its in terrorum effect, as any individuals who have applied for
immigration benefits have, necessarily, already disclosed their immigration status to
federal authorities. Koch Foods’s motion is granted as to its discovery requests
concerning these matters, subject to the entry of an appropriate protective order.
Koch Foods also seeks a broad reconsideration of the Court’s November 30, 2012,
order, arguing once again that it is entitled to discovery on the immigration status of all
individual plaintiffs and claimants. Koch Foods has not, however, offered any new
arguments or evidence to support its position. This portion of Koch Foods’s motion is
Accordingly, it is hereby ordered as follows:
The individual plaintiffs shall, after the entry of an appropriate protective order,
serve full and complete answers to interrogatories one through four and produce all
documents responsive to requests one through four of Koch Foods’ second set of
consolidated discovery to the individual plaintiffs. The EEOC shall, after the entry of an
appropriate protective order, serve full and complete answers to interrogatories one
through five and produce all documents responsive to requests one through five of Koch
Foods second set of consolidated discovery to the EEOC. The parties shall submit to the
undersigned within ten days of entry of this order a joint proposed protective order
governing the production of such information.
The motions of Koch Foods are in all other respects denied.
SO ORDERED this the 24th day of January, 2014.
/s/ F. Keith Ball
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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