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Kloppel v. Homedeliverylink, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 3, 2020

MIKE KLOPPEL and ADAM WILSON, on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
v.
HOMEDELIVERYLINK, INC., Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          MARK W. PEDERSEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pedersen, M.J. Plaintiffs Mike Kloppel and Adam Wilson, on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated persons (hereinafter, collectively "Plaintiffs"), filed their Amended Complaint in this class action suit on July 7, 2017, which alleged (1) violations of New York Labor Law - Unlawful Wage Deductions; (2) New York Labor Law - Illegal Kickback of Wages; (3) New York Labor Law - Record-Keeping Requirement Violation; and (4) Unjust enrichment against defendants Sears Holding Corporation, Sears, Roebuck & Company, and HomeDeliveryLink, Inc. (ECF No. 9.)[1] In essence, Plaintiffs assert that Defendant HomeDeliveryLink, Inc. (hereinafter "Defendant") misclassified them as independent contractors rather than as employees and deducted certain expenses from their pay while Plaintiffs performed delivery services for Defendant in New York State.

         Presently before the Court are two motions to compel discovery filed by Defendant. (ECF Nos. 77 & 83.) For the reasons discussed below, both of Defendant's motions to compel discovery are granted in part and denied in part.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides that parties are entitled to "obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. It is well-settled that "[d]istrict courts enjoy broad discretion when resolving discovery disputes. That discretion is exercised by determining the relevance of discovery requests, assessing oppressiveness, and weighing these factors in deciding whether discovery should be compelled." In re Air Crash Near Clarence Ctr., N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2009, No. 09-CV-961S, 2011 WL 6370189, at *1 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2011) (citations omitted). Indeed,

"a court must limit discovery if it finds that the discovery sought is 'unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive.' A court must also limit discovery if it finds that the burden or expense of the requested discovery outweighs its likely benefit."

Id. at *2, citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(hi).

         Defendant's first motion to compel discovery (ECF No. 77.)

         On September 26, 2019, Defendant filed its first motion to compel discovery seeking responses to Requests 8 (information from Plaintiffs' social media postings), 18 (tax returns and related documents) and 22 (documents in which Plaintiffs have disclosed their occupation/employment status) contained in its First Request for Production and a response to Interrogatory 16 (seeking Plaintiffs' "trial plan") contained in Defendant's Second Set of Interrogatories.

         Defendant's Document Request 8

         Document Request 8 seeks: "Your social media postings, including those made on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Linkedln [sic], since May 9, 2011 that reference (a) HDL, HomeDelivery and/or HomeDeliveryLink; (b) the terms 'job', 'work', 'contract', 'contractor', 'employer', or 'employee'; or (c) the terms 'driving', 'delivery', 'transport', or 'transportation'."

         Defendant argues that this request is narrowly tailored, providing certain words to be searched, and that it is relevant to Plaintiffs' claims for misclassification and the work performed by Plaintiffs. (Def.'s Mem. of Law, Sept. 26, 2019, at 5, ECF No. 78.) Plaintiffs assert that the search terms provided by Defendant are too broad rendering any such search a "fishing expedition" and that the social media postings are not relevant. (Pls.' Mem. of Law, Oct. 15, 2019, at 3, ECF No. 80.) Plaintiffs assert that even if the social media postings were tangentially related to their claims that any such relevance is outweighed by Plaintiffs' right to privacy. Id. In reply, Defendant argues that any privacy rights can be mitigated through a protective order. (Def.'s Reply Mem. of Law, October 22, 2019, at 3, ECF No. 82.)

         The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that any information contained on their social media accounts would only be tangentially related to this matter. In addition, placing the burden on Plaintiffs to conduct these searches is not warranted where Defendant has "nothing more than its own hope that there might be something of relevance in the social media posts." Caputi v. Topper Realty Corp., No. 14-CV-2634 JFB SIL, 2015 WL 893663, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2015) (citations omitted). Accordingly, the Court denies Defendant's request to compel responses to Request 8.

         Defendant's Document Request 18

         Document Request 18 seeks: "All federal, state, or local income tax records within your possession or that you have authority to obtain (such as from an accountant or from TurboTax) associated with the years in which you and/or Kloppel Deliveries received compensation from HDL. This request encompasses federal tax returns, all informational forms, including 1099s, W2s, 1040s, 1120s, 1125-As, and all accompanying ...


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