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Black v. Buffalo Meat Service, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

March 31, 2017

DARCY M. BLACK, Plaintiff,
v.
BUFFALO MEAT SERVICE, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          HON. HUGH B. SCOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court are two motions. The first motion is plaintiff's continued effort (see Docket Nos. 23, 28; see also Docket Nos. 27, 32 (Orders on plaintiff's previous motions)) to compel production of payroll and tax records from defendants, this time seeking enforcement of this Court's prior Orders (Docket Nos. 27, 32) for production and for discovery sanctions (Docket No. 34). She also seeks to extend the Scheduling Order deadlines given the delays in defense production (id.). In support of this motion, plaintiff submits her attorney's Declaration with exhibits (id.).

         The second motion is defendants' cross-motion to compel (Docket No. 36), also submitted in response to plaintiff's motion. In support of their cross-motion, defendants submitted their attorney's Affidavit with exhibits and Memorandum of Law (id.). Here, defendants seek authorizations from plaintiff, scheduling of her deposition, and production of her tax records (id.).

         Responses to plaintiff's motion were due by March 7, 2017, with replies due by March 14, 2017, and argument on March 16, 2017 (Docket No. 35). This briefing schedule also held in abeyance discovery deadlines in the current Scheduling Order (see Docket No. 33) until plaintiff's motion was resolved (Docket No. 35). With the filing of the cross-motion, responses to that motion were due March 14, 2017, and argument of that motion was joined with that for plaintiff's motion on March 16, 2017 (Docket No. 37). Plaintiff filed her reply papers, including her attorney's reply Declaration with exhibits (examples of the W-2 reports produced by defendants, and plaintiff's letter of March 14, 2017, enclosing certain sought authorizations and discovery) and Reply Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 38). Following that argument (Docket No. 39, minutes of March 16, 2017, argument), the motions were deemed submitted.

         Familiarity with the prior discovery Orders in this action (Docket Nos. 27, 32) is presumed.

         BACKGROUND

         This employment discrimination action was commenced by plaintiff alleging violations of federal (Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981) and New York State law (New York State Human Rights Law). Plaintiff claims that defendants created a hostile work environment on the basis of race and sex and had constructively discharged her. (Docket No. 2, Compl.) As previously stated (Docket No. 32, Order of Nov. 29, 2016, at 2-3; Docket No. 27, Order of Aug. 16, 2016, at 2), plaintiff claims that male coworkers were paid more than she was and were allowed more breaks than she was; that her coworkers made sexual and racial comments; that the shop rejected African American applicants (although plaintiff is a Caucasian female); and a coworker allegedly made comments regarding her biracial children (see Docket No. 2, Compl.; Docket No. 25, Defs. Memo. at 1).

         Defendants answered (Docket No. 8), asserting 28 affirmative defenses, about half of them declaring that each of plaintiff's ten causes of action failed to state a claim (id. Ans., ¶¶ 54-82; see also id. at pages 17-18 (Reservation of Rights as to named affirmative rights and reserve right to other, unnamed defenses)). This case was referred to the undersigned (Docket No. 9) and a Scheduling Order was entered (Docket No. 13; see Docket Nos. 10 (Scheduling Conference Notice), 11 (plaintiff's proposed discovery plan), 12 (minutes from Scheduling Conference)) and later was amended (Docket Nos. 22, 27, 32, 33).

         Previous Motions to Compel (Nos.23, 28)

         Plaintiff initially moved for defendants to produce (among other sought items) W-2 statements, Form 1099 and other tax documents, and payroll records for comparable employees (Docket No. 23, Pl. Decl., Exs. A, I). Defendants opposed, stating that plaintiff's document demands were disproportionate to her claims and the issues in this case (Docket No. 25, Defs. Memo. at 4-8; see Docket No. 27, Order at 8) but defendants had produced over 500 pages of documents they deemed responsive (Docket No. 25, Defs. Memo. at 8; see Docket No. 27, Order at 8). After discussing proportionality in discovery (Docket No. 27, Order at 12-15), this Court held that defendant's production was sufficient “(save additional production for her Equal Pay Act claims), ” denying plaintiff's motion to compel more (id. at 15).

         Plaintiff later filed a second motion to compel (Docket No. 28) defendants to produce where this Court deemed that the issue was “whether defendants complied with this Court's Order [Docket No. 27] and what was (or was not) produced to plaintiff” (Docket No. 32, Order of Nov. 29, 2016, at 5). Plaintiff sought complete responses to document demands in Paragraphs 8, 12, and 13 of her requests to produce, including production of W-2 statements, Form 1099 and other tax documents from January 1, 2004, to the conclusion of this action for every employee of defendants (paragraph 12) and all payroll records for that same period (paragraph 13) (see Docket No. 32, Order at 7). Defendants rested on the 500 pages of documents already produced as compliance with these document demands (see id. at 8; Docket No. 30, Defs. Memo. at 2-4). Plaintiff replied that she needed these records for her Equal Pay Act claim (Docket No. 31, Pl. Atty. Reply Decl. ¶ 4; see Docket No. 32, Order at 8). This Court granted plaintiff's motion to compel production of the tax and payroll records sought in Requests 12 and 13 (Docket No. 32, Order at 10-11), concluding that “absent evidence (sworn statement or other admissible proof) of what defendants produced in response to these claims, or a statement that such documents do not exist (cf. Docket No. 30, Def. Memo. at 3), defendants are to produce documents responsive to Requests Nos. 12 and 13” (Docket No. 32, Order at 11 (emphasis in original)).

         Plaintiff's Pending Third Motion to Compel (No. 34)

         With discovery deadlines approaching, plaintiff moved for expedited hearing and extension of the current Scheduling Order (Docket No. 34). She also sought compliance with this Court's August 16, 2016, and November 29, 2016, Orders and production of all documents responsive to her Request Nos. 12 and 13 (id.), seeking these tax and payroll records from January 2016 to present (Docket No. 34, Pl. Atty. Decl. ¶ 26).

         Defendants renewed their response that they produced, among 500 pages of documents already produced, materials responsive to plaintiff's outstanding demands (Docket No. 36, Defs. Memo. at 7-9). They question the temporal scope of plaintiff's ...


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