Boland v. The Baue Funderal Home Co. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order Forbidding Plaintiffs Depositions of Defendants' Corporate Representatives (ECF No. 39 ) is DENIED without prejudice. The parties are ordered to meet and confer regarding the Rule 30(b)(6) Notice consistent with this Court's Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on September 21, 2015. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
THE BAUE FUNERAL HOME CO., et al. ,
Case No. 4:15CV469 RLW
MEMORANUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order Forbidding
Plaintiff's Depositions of Defendants' Corporate Representatives ("Motion"; ECF No. 39). This
matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
On June 4, 2015 , Plaintiff Sarah Boland ("Boland") filed her first amended complaint,
which alleges claims for declaratory judgment to declare her non-competition agreement with
Defendants unenforceable, for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act 29 U.S.C.
§§201-219 ("FLSA"), for violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S .C. §§2601-2654
("FMLA"), and for tortious interference with her employment relationship with Alternative
Funeral & Cremation Services.
On or around August 10, 2015, Boland served her Notice of Deposition of Corporate
Representative ("Notice") pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6).
examination topics and 49 subtopics. (ECF No. 39-1).
The Notice included 45
In this Motion, Defendants seek a
protective order because they claim the 45 examination topics and 49 subtopics impose an undue
burden and expense on Defendants.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides "parties may obtain discovery regarding any
matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(l).
Relevant information "need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably
calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id.
"The rule vests the district court
with discretion to limit discovery if it determines, inter alia, the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Roberts v. Shawnee Mission Ford, Inc., 352 F.3d 358, 361
(8th Cir. 2003)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(l)); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c) (authorizing the court to
ensure a party responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena takes reasonable steps to
avoid imposing "undue burden or expense" on a person subject to a subpoena).
In their Motion, Defendants argue that the discovery sought in the Notice involves
"unreasonably cumulative discovery that the Plaintiff has already obtained from other more
convenient, less burdensome, and less expensive sources."
(ECF No. 39,
further argue that the burden and expense of the deposition of Defendants' corporate
representative outweighs its likely benefit, "considering the needs of this case, the amount in
controversy, the Defendants' resources, and its relatively low importance in resolving the issues
raised in Plaintiffs amended complaint." (ECF No. 39, ~4). Defendants request an order voiding
the Notice. (ECF No. 39,
Defense counsel sent an email to Boland's counsel, asking to
confer or they would file this Motion the following day. When Boland's counsel did not respond,
Defendants filed this Motion.
Defendants note that Boland' s counsel "never contacted the
Defendants' counsel [to meet and confer] on or after August 21, 2015." (ECF No. 44 at 4).
In response, Boland first contends that the Court should deny Defendants' Motion for
Protective Order because Defendants did not follow the meet and confer requirements. (ECF No.
40 at 5-6).
Boland notes that defense counsel sent an email stating that they would file a
protective order within 24 hours, but Boland' s counsel was unable to respond within the short
timeframe. Boland contends defense counsel ' s attempt was not a sincere effort to meet and
confer. In addition, Boland maintains that Defendants have not demonstrated good cause for the
issuance of a protective order. (ECF No. 40 at 6-10). Boland claims that Defendants' Motion
relies on conclusory statements regarding the needs of the case and the burden on Defendants.
Further, Boland indicates that the number of topics is necessary because her first amended
complaint involves four distinct and complex legal claims. Finally, Boland asserts that she has
the right to pursue a deposition, rather than other discovery methods which may be preferable to
The Court believes that Defendants' Motion is premature. As noted by both sides, the
parties did not engage in any discussions regarding this dispute prior to or after filing this Motion.
Merely sending an email is insufficient to satisfy the meet and confer process. See E.D.Mo. L.R.
3.04 ("The Court will not consider any motion relating to discovery and disclosure unless it
contains a statement that movant's counsel has conferred in person or by telephone with the
opposing counsel in good faith or has made reasonable efforts to do so .. ."). Therefore, the Court
will deny the Motion, without prejudice, and order the parties to engage in a meaningful meet and
confer process prior to filing another motion for protective order.
Further, during the meet and confer process, the Court asks the parties to address the
Notice, topic by topic, to determine if the topics can be streamlined and stripped of legalese. The
Court is troubled by the number and broadness of some of Boland' s 30(b)(6) Notice topics. In
particular, the topics listed in paragraphs 23 and 25 seem to be seeking hyper technical testimony
that has little relevance to the employment issues in this case. See ECF No. 44 at 5-6. Further, to
the extent that Notice topics seek "documentation," the parties should discuss whether relevant
documents have been produced pursuant to a document request.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order Forbidding
Plaintiffs Depositions of Defendants' Corporate Representatives (ECF No. 39) is DENIED
without prejudice. The parties are ordered to meet and confer regarding the Rule 30(b)(6) Notice
consistent with this Court's Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 21st day of September, 2015.
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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