United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
THOMAS SLOANE, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiff,
GULF INTERSTATE FIELD SERVICES, INC., Defendant.
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Court entered its Memorandum and Order denying class and
collective certification on March 24, 2017.
Since that time, this action has proceeded on an
April 13, 2017, the Court denied a motion for reconsideration
of its certification decision filed by Plaintiff.
April 26, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for a
protective order against non-party subpoenas.
contested subpoenas, which were served subsequent to my
denial of class certification, seek documentary and
testimonial information regarding a number of contracts
between the Defendant and Kinder Morgan, as well as
compensation processes pertinent to every one of
Defendant's employees who worked at Kinder Morgan sites.
addition to receiving written submissions from the parties,
the Court held a telephonic conference on the motion on May
1, 2017, at which time it heard oral argument from counsel.
“It is well established that the scope and conduct of
discovery are within the sound discretion of the trial court
. . . and that after final judgment of the district court . .
. our review is confined to determining if that discretion
has been abused.” Marroquin-Manriquez v.
I.N.S., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983) (Aldisert, J.).
“To find such abuse it is usually necessary to conclude
that there has been an interference with a substantial right
. . . or that the discovery ruling is seen to be a gross
abuse of discretion resulting in fundamental unfairness in
the trial of the case.” Id. Thus, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has forewarned
litigants that it “will not interfere with a trial
court's control of its docket except upon the clearest
showing that the procedures have resulted in actual and
substantial prejudice to the complaining litigant.”
In re Fine Paper Antitrust Litig., 685 F.2d
810, 817-18 (3d Cir. 1982) (Aldisert, J.).
“Discovery need not be perfect, but discovery must be
fair.” Boeynaems v. LA Fitness Int'l, LLC,
285 F.R.D. 331, 333 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (Baylson, J.). “The
responses sought must comport with the traditional notions of
relevancy and must not impose an undue burden on the
responding party.” Hicks v. Arthur, 159 F.R.D.
468, 470 (E.D. Pa. 1995). “[T]he scope of [ ] discovery
is not without limits.” Kresefky v. Panasonic
Commc'ns & Sys. Co., 169 F.R.D. 54, 64 (D.N.J.
1996). As such, “[d]iscovery should be tailored to the
issues involved in the particular case.” Id.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1) states that
“[a] party or any person from whom discovery is sought
may move for a protective order in the court where the action
is pending-or as an alternative on matters relating to a
deposition, in the court for the district where the
deposition will be taken.” It further provides that
“[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to
protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment,
oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Id.
Moreover, it is axiomatic that “the party seeking
discovery must first demonstrate the relevance before the
party seeking a protective order must demonstrate good
cause.” Bell v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 270
F.R.D. 186, 195 (D.N.J. 2010).
Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith, writing for the United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Halle v. W.
Penn Allegheny Health Sys. Inc., 842 F.3d 215, 226 (3d
Cir. 2016), stated that “[i]f a collective action is
decertified at the final stage . . . the court will decertify
the class, dismiss the opt-in plaintiffs without prejudice,
and permit the named plaintiffs to proceed to trial.”
Judge Smith further clarified that “[w]hile a dismissed
opt-in plaintiff retains the ability to pursue
individual claims after a district court decertifies
a collective action, we have located no authority (nor have
the parties cited any) discussing the approach taken by
Steven Halle in the underlying case here-namely, his decision
. . . to try to resurrect substantially similar collective
action allegations.” Id. at n.11.
have reviewed the contested discovery requests and believe
that they are overbroad, unduly burdensome, and most
importantly, irrelevant in light of the individualized
posture of this action following my denial of certification.
In other words, the requests are not sufficiently tailored so
as to obtain relevant information about the only remaining
Plaintiff, Mr. Sloane. See Flomo v. Bridgestone Americas
Holding, Inc., 2009 WL 1456736, at *3 (S.D. Ind. May 20,
2009) (“Plaintiffs drafted their discovery requests
while this case was still a putative class action, to be
litigated on behalf of all minors who allegedly work on the
Plantation. Because Roe II denied class
certification, many of the discovery requests must be
narrowed to encompass documents and information relating only
to Plaintiffs' claims, not to claims of other minors on
the Plantation.”); Am. Nurses' Assoc. v. State
of Illinois, No. 84 C 4451, 1986 WL 10382, at *3 (N.D.
Ill. Sept. 12, 1986) (“If class certification is
denied, the scope of permissible discovery may be
significantly narrowed.”); In re Rail Freight ...