Peterson v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER denying 34 Motion to Compel Defendant to Answer Interrogatories. Signed by Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead on 2/14/18 (alt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION
MICHAEL H. PETERSON, DAVID S.
TUCKER, and R. CURTIS PALMER,
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ SHORT-FORM
Case No. 2:17-cv-00306-TC-DBP
NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE
District Judge Tena Campbell
Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead
This matter was referred to the court under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). (ECF No. 35.) The
Second Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. violated
the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. (See ECF No. 24.) Plaintiffs Michael H.
Peterson, David S. Tucker, and R. Curtis Palmer, filed a short-form discovery motion seeking to
compel answers to three interrogatories asking Defendant to “[i]dentify each task [the three
individual Plaintiffs] performed without manager approval. (ECF No. 34 at 18, 36, 50).
Defendant timely responded to the motion. (ECF No. 37). The court did not hear oral argument.
Plaintiffs’ motion to compel will be denied because Defendant adequately answered
a. Parties’ arguments
Plaintiffs’ motion seeks to compel responses to the three interrogatories related to tasks
each Plaintiff performed without manager approval. (See ECF No. 34 at 1–4, 18, 36, 50).
Plaintiffs’ motion is somewhat unclear, but appears to suggest Defendant only responded by
objecting to the three interrogatories. (Id. at 3). On January 24, 2018, Defendant informed
Plaintiffs that Defendant did not track specific instances where Plaintiffs acted without a
supervisor’s approval, but that Defendant would produce Plaintiffs’ claims logs as evidence of
Plaintiffs’ use of judgment and discretion. (Id.) Plaintiffs contend the court should compel
additional answers because the information sought is relevant. Plaintiffs suggest Defendant could
glean additional information from personnel, but that Defendant “refuses to respond.” (Id. at 4).
Defendant points out that, notwithstanding its objections, it answered the interrogatories
at issue by promising to provide the job description applicable to each Plaintiff’s position and
each Plaintiff’s claims log (subject to an agreement regarding a protective order). (ECF No. 37 at
2). Defendant further indicated it does not keep records regarding instances when Plaintiffs
performed tasks without approval from a supervisor. (Id.) Also, the day before Plaintiffs filed the
instant motion, Defendant offered to provide additional responses to the interrogatories, which
Defendant provided on February 9, one week after Plaintiffs filed their motion. (Id.) Defendant
contends that any information Plaintiffs seek that has not been provided in Defendant’s
interrogatory response can be obtained by deposition. (Id.)
While the thrust of Plaintiffs’ motion is somewhat unclear, Plaintiffs have not
demonstrated entitlement to any relief. Below, the court will address three conceivable readings
of Plaintiffs’ motion.
First, Plaintiffs appear to suggest Defendant did not answer the three interrogatories at
issue. This is simply not accurate. After stating its objections, Defendant answered the
interrogatories by indicating it would produce the Plaintiffs’ job descriptions and claims log. (See
ECF No. 37 at 2) (citing ECF No. 34 at 18, 36–37, 50–51). Accordingly, Defendant responded to
Next, Plaintiffs’ motion could be read to suggest that Defendant’s reference to various
documents cannot constitute a proper answer to the interrogatories. To the extent Plaintiffs
suggest this, Plaintiffs are incorrect. “If the answer to an interrogatory may be determined by
examining, auditing, compiling, abstracting, or summarizing a party’s business records . . . and if
the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer will be substantially the same for either party,
the responding party may answer by” identifying the records and allowing an inspection. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 33. Plaintiffs offer no argument that suggests they face any more burden than would
Defendant in obtaining an answer from Defendant’s business records. It appears to the court that
the burden is roughly equal because Defendant does not track the specific information Plaintiffs
seek. Accordingly, the court finds Defendant’s response to the interrogatory adequate.
Finally, Plaintiffs might be attempting to compel Defendant to ask Plaintiffs’ former
supervisors about this information. To the extent Plaintiffs seeks such relief, the motion fails
because Plaintiffs have not offered any authority to support that request. Moreover, Defendant’s
February 9 supplemental response indicates those individuals do not track instances in which
Plaintiffs perform tasks without approval from a supervisor. (See ECF No. 37 at 3). Accordingly,
even assuming Plaintiffs were entitled to compel Defendant to ask their supervisors about this
information; Defendant has apparently already asked those supervisors. To the extent Plaintiffs
have further questions for these individuals, the court agrees with Defendant that Plaintiffs
should depose the individuals it desires to question, rather than compel Defendant to undertake
that work on Plaintiffs’ behalf.
Based on the foregoing, the court hereby,
DENIES Plaintiffs’ Short Form “Motion to Compel Defendant to Answer Interrogatories
Submitted Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 33.” (ECF No. 34).
Dated February 14, 2018.
Dustin B. Pead
United States Magistrate Judge
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