United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
SHAYLA CLARK, on behalf of herself and all other employees similarly situated, Plaintiff,
BERKSHIRE MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
TO COMPEL DISCOVERY (DKT. NO. 36)
KATHERINE A. ROBERTSON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Shayla Clark filed this action on behalf of herself and other
similarly situated licensed practical nurses employed by
Berkshire Medical Center (“BMC”) asserting claims
under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§
207(a) and 216(b) (Count I); the Massachusetts Wage Act,
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §§ 148 & 150 (Count
II); Massachusetts common law - quantum meruit (Count III);
and Massachusetts common law - unjust enrichment (Count IV).
Ms. Clark filed her notice of consent to sue on December 29,
2017. On May 14, 2018, Nicole Millington filed a notice of
consent to sue; on May 24, 2018, Shirley Victor also did so
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) (Dkt. Nos. 5, 16,
Before the court is Defendant's Motion to Compel
Discovery (“BMC's Motion”), which seeks to
compel supplemental answers to the interrogatories BMC served
on each of the Plaintiffs and the production of engagement
letters between Plaintiffs and their counsel (Dkt. No. 36).
Plaintiffs oppose BMC's Motion (Dkt. No. 39). The court
heard argument from the parties on December 11, 2018 and took
BMC's Motion under advisement (Dkt. No. 45). For the
reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS BMC's Motion in
part and DENIES it in part.
7, 2018, BMC served a limited set of interrogatories on
Plaintiffs posing the following two questions:
Interrogatory 1: Please state the names, addresses, and
present or last known places of employment of each person
with personal knowledge concerning the facts alleged and the
defenses asserted in the First Amended Complaint and the
Answer to the First Amended Complaint and briefly summarize
the substance of such knowledge.
Interrogatory 2: Please provide an itemized computation of
your damages, including a list of the dates on which you
contend you missed all or part of a break or otherwise worked
more than your scheduled shift and, for each such date, the
amount of additional time you allege you worked and any
overtime for which you contend you were not compensated.
(Dkt. Nos. 36-4, 36-5, 36-6).
Clark's response to interrogatory 1 referred BMC to Ms.
Clark's initial disclosures, in which she listed nine
individuals including herself, Ms. Millington, and Ms.
Victor. She stated that these nine individuals had
“knowledge/information” regarding the terms and
conditions of her employment, her job responsibilities,
and/or hours worked (Dkt. No. 36-19).
BMC's objection to the sufficiency of this response, Ms.
Clark supplemented her answer to interrogatory 1 by stating
collectively, as to these nine individuals (including
herself), that she was unaware of their addresses and present
employment but believed that their last place of employment
was with BMC. As to the substantive knowledge of these
individuals, she stated (again collectively) that she
believed these individuals had knowledge of “BMC's
policies, practices and procedures with regard to meal
breaks, timekeeping, recording of hours worked, and/or
monitoring of hours worked, ” and of employees who
worked through meal breaks without compensation (Dkt. No.
36-24). In her initial interrogatory responses, Ms.
Millington separately listed eight individuals, provided
their last known telephone numbers and identified the
positions they held or had held at BMC. As had Ms. Clark, Ms.
Millington collectively identified topics as to which she
believed these eight individuals had knowledge or information
(Dkt. No. 36-22). In a supplemental response, she answered,
again collectively, that she believed these individuals had
knowledge of BMC's policies, practices and procedures
with regard to meal breaks, timekeeping, recording of hours
worked, monitoring of hours worked, and of employees who
worked through meal breaks without compensation (Dkt. No.
36-25). Ms. Victor did not answer BMC's interrogatories
carefully reviewed BMC's entire submission in support of
its motion, it does not appear that BMC informed
Plaintiffs' counsel of specific claimed deficiencies in
Plaintiffs' responses to interrogatory 1 prior to filing
its motion to compel (Dkt. Nos. 36-2; 36-20). “The meet
and confer requirement in Rule 37(a)(1) is not an empty
formality and cannot be satisfied merely by including copies
of correspondence that discuss the discovery at issue,
particularly when the correspondence only shows the movant
threatening a motion to compel if all the requested discovery
is not produced.” A.J. Amer Agency, Inc. v.
Astonish Results, LLC, C.A. No. 12-351S, 2013 WL
9663951, at *2 (D.R.I. Feb. 25, 2013). See, e.g.,
Docket No. 36-20. Emails that state a moving party's
point of view instead of reflecting good faith efforts to
reach an agreement do not satisfy the meet and confer
requirement. See Id. (citing Aponte-Navedo v.
Nalco Chem. Co., 268 F.R.D. 31, 41 (D.P.R. 2010)).
Nonetheless, in view of the time spent in court conferring
about the parties' respective positions and discovery
obligations, the court intends to rule on BMC's Motion so
that the case can move forward. Contrast TG Plastics
Trading Co. v. Toray Plastics, No. C.A. 09-336S, 2010 WL
936221, at *3 (D.R.I. Mar. 12, 2010) (ordering the parties to
confer in good faith on the appropriate scope of discovery
rather than ruling substantively on the pending motion to
compel); see also A.J. Amer Agency, Inc., 2013 WL
9663951, at *2 (same).
request to Plaintiffs to identify individuals with relevant
knowledge and provide a brief summary of that knowledge is a
standard interrogatory. Precisely what is required as a
response to such an interrogatory is not clearly spelled out
in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or in case law. The
court agrees with BMC's contention that it is not proper
to respond to such an interrogatory on a collective basis,
nor is it appropriate to refer the propounding party to the
initial disclosures, which are not signed under oath by a
party, and which only require that a party identify
individuals “likely to have discoverable information .
. . that the disclosing party may use to support its claims
or defenses.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i). Cf.
Mulero-Abreu v. Puerto Rico Police Dept., 675 F.3d 88,
93 (1st Cir. 2012) (stating that a party should not answer an
interrogatory by directing the propounding party to review
the contents of other discovery materials). At a minimum, a
party responding to an “individuals with
knowledge” interrogatory must separately list each
individual whom the responding party knows or believes
possesses relevant knowledge (whether or not ...