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Salvatore Dinapoli, Michelle Neese, and Christopher Flynn v. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 8

March 18, 2011

SALVATORE DINAPOLI, MICHELLE NEESE, AND CHRISTOPHER FLYNN,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THEATRICAL STAGE EMPLOYEES LOCAL 8, AND THE WALNUT STREET THEATER CORPORATION DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are a Motion to Compel Discovery Responses from Defendant International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 8 ("Union Motion") and a Motion to Compel Discovery Responses and/or Supplemental Responses from Defendant the Walnut Street Theater Corporation ("Theater Motion") filed by Plaintiffs Salvatore DiNapoli ("DiNapoli"), Michelle Neese ("Neese"), and Christopher Flynn ("Flynn") (collectively, "Plaintiffs"). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motions will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

This suit is primarily one for breach of a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") by Defendants International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees ("the Union") and The Walnut Street Theater Corporation ("the Theater") (collectively, "Defendants") and breach of duties owed to union members by the Union. Plaintiffs allege that Neese was wrongfully terminated from employment by the Theater after she reported that several employees submitted inaccurate timesheets. Plaintiffs also allege that DiNapoli and Flynn were wrongfully terminated for their presumed involvement in reporting the timesheet inaccuracies. According to the Plaintiffs, each termination of employment amounted to a breach of the CBA by both Defendants. Moreover, Plaintiffs allege that the Union did not follow proper procedure to amend the terms of the CBA, failed to process grievances filed by them, and retaliated against them for instituting the instant litigation.

On December 11, 2009, Plaintiffs filed this action against the Union, the Theater, and several other individuals who were employees or representatives of either the Union or the Theater. Originally the scope of Plaintiffs' case was much broader. Plaintiffs initially alleged breach of the duty of fair representation against the Union (Count I),*fn1 breach of the CBA against the Union and Theater (Count II),*fn2 retaliatory suspension and/or discharge against the Theater (Count III), civil conspiracy against all defendants (Count IV), intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants (Count V), fraud against all defendants (Count VI), and fraudulent misrepresentation against all defendants (Count VII).

The following events narrowed the scope of Plaintiffs' case considerably. On March 1, 2010, the Theater filed a Motion to Dismiss seeking to dismiss a majority of the counts against it, and on April 15, 2010, the Union filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. On May 19, 2010, we dismissed Counts III, IV, V, VI, and VII with prejudice. As a result, the individuals who were employees or representatives of the Union or the Theater were terminated from the suit. On July 30, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to Amend their Complaint, which we granted on August 30, 2010. That same day, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, in which they allege breach of the fair duty of representation against the Union (Count I), breach of the CBA against both Defendants (Count II), violation of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA") (Count III),*fn3 and retaliation for exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") (Count IV).*fn4

On February 2, 2011, Plaintiffs filed the Union Motion and the Theater Motion.*fn5

Plaintiffs seek to compel the Union to respond to one interrogatory and one request to produce documents. Plaintiffs seek to compel the Theater to respond to eight interrogatories and eight requests to produce documents. On February 14, 2011, the Union filed a Response in Opposition to the Union Motion. That same day, the Theater filed a Response in Opposition to the Theater Motion.

II. DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 allows litigants to "obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). "Material is relevant if it bears on, or reasonably could bear on, an issue that is or may beinvolved [in] the litigation." Topol v. Tr. of Univ. of Pa., 160 F.R.D. 476, 477 (E.D. Pa. 1995). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). "[Relevancy] under Rule 26 is to be construed liberally," but it "must also be determined and limited by the context of the facts and circumstances of each particular case." Williams v. Am. Cyanamid, 164 F.R.D. 615, 616 (D.N.J. 1996). A district judge must exercise broad discretion in supervising discovery. Bowman v. Gen. Motors Corp., 64 F.R.D. 62, 69 (E.D. Pa. 1974).

A. Plaintiffs' Union Motion

In the Union Motion, Plaintiffs seek to compel the Union to respond to paragraph 8 of Plaintiffs' First Set of Interrogatories to the Union and to produce documents relating to paragraph 31 of Plaintiffs' First Request for Production of Documents to the Union. For the following reasons, we will deny these requests.

1. Paragraph 8 of Plaintiffs' Interrogatories First, Plaintiffs seek to compel the Union to respond to Paragraph 8 of Plaintiffs' Interrogatories. Paragraph 8 is an "admissions" interrogatory. It states:

If you claim that [Plaintiffs] have made any admissions relating to the subject matter of [Plaintiffs'] Complaint, [Plaintiffs'] claims, or Defendants' defenses, state: the date made; where made; the name and address of each person present at the time the admission was made; the contents of the admission; and if in writing, attach a copy.

Plaintiffs claim that the information is clearly relevant and that they are entitled to the information but they do not explain its relevance or why they are entitled to it. The Union argues that paragraph 8 calls for a legal conclusion, is vague and overly broad and lacks sufficient precision to permit a response. In support of its argument, the Union cites Susquehanna Commer. Fin., Inc. v. Vascular Res., Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127125 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 1, 2010). Susquehanna held that an interrogatory asking for any "statement" or "admission" that ...


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