United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ROBERT D. BEAUPRE, Plaintiff,
SEACOAST SALES, INC. and JOHN HADDAD. Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL, AND
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER
L. CABELL, U.S.M.J.
related motions pend before the court, including Plaintiff
Robert Beaupre's Motion to Compel Responses to
Plaintiff's Discovery Requests (D. 33), and
Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order Regarding
Depositions Scheduled for December 12, 2019 and December 17
and 18, 2019 (D. 38). For the reasons chiefly articulated in
court and referenced below, the motions are allowed in
part and denied in part.
Seacoast, led by co-defendant Haddad, is a food and beverage
brokerage firm that helps suppliers distribute their products
to various grocery markets and food stores. Haddad hired the
plaintiff as Director of Sales to grow the company's
sales, reportedly by servicing existing clients, helping to
procure new ones, and by assisting on other accounts not
specifically assigned to him. The plaintiff contends that he
performed well but that the defendants terminated him because
his age forced the company to pay more in health-care related
costs than the company was willing to pay, and then replaced
him with a younger person.
plaintiff seeks inter alia discovery regarding the
company's financial performance for the three-year period
running from the year before he was hired through the year
following his termination, and his replacement's
personnel file. The plaintiff argues that such discovery will
show whether he performed well (as he contends) and thus is
relevant to establish liability as well as to show that the
defendants' articulated reason for terminating him (poor
performance) is a pretext for age discrimination. The
defendants contend generally that the plaintiff's
requests are overly broad and should be limited to the
handful of accounts specifically under the plaintiff's
The Plaintiff's Motion to Compel
respect to the first set of documents requested concerning
the company's financial information (First Requests for
Production #37, #39, #68, and #69), the court finds for the
reasons discussed in court that the information sought is
relevant and discoverable. The court accordingly compels the
production of those documents with the following limitations.
The defendants are only required to produce documents for the
roughly three-year timeframe beginning one year before the
plaintiff's hiring and running through one year after his
termination. As discussed at the hearing, the plaintiff will
endeavor to provide more specific requests for the exact
documents sought (such as year-end reports, summaries,
financial statements, etc.), and the defendants retain the
right to interpose an objection based on undue burden or
respect to the second set of documents requested concerning
accounts that the plaintiff was charged with servicing (First
Requests #41, #42, and #46), the court similarly finds that
the documents sought are relevant and will compel their
production subject to the same limitations noted above.
respect to the third set of documents requested concerning
the personnel file and daily travel diary of another Seacoast
employee, Peter McArdle, the court will compel only the
production of documents establishing McArdle's age and
comparative qualifications for the position. The court is not
persuaded that the needs of this case entitle the plaintiff
to any information beyond those bearing on the
plaintiff's assertion that he was replaced with someone
younger and arguably less qualified than he.
The Defendants' Motion For a Protective Order
defendants object to the breadth of the scope of the noticed
30(b)(6) deposition of Seacoast as it relates to topics #13,
#20, #22, #23, #24. For largely the same reasons discussed
above and in court, the court finds that the topics the
plaintiff seeks to depose Seacoast's representative about
are generally appropriate. That being said, the court agrees
that the verbiage requiring the designee to be versant on
“all matters” or “all documents”
renders the notice overbroad and unduly burdensome.
Accordingly, while Seacoast should (as the pertinent
discovery rules require) make best efforts to designate one
who is in fact knowledgeable on the topics listed, the
designee is not expected to literally be knowledgeable on
“all” matters or documents. Further, the relevant
time frame should be limited to the three-year period
defendants also request that any limitations imposed on the
30(b)(6) depositions also be imposed on the noticed
depositions of John Haddad, Pamela Harding, and Peter
McArdle. The court agrees; the approximate three-year
timeframe for the relevant inquiry will apply to these
depositions as well.
the defendants seek to limit the scope of the topics of the
noticed third-party deposition of Hannaford Bros., Co.
(Hannaford), a long-time Seacoast partner (Topics #1-4).
Though the defendants are correct that a party may in certain
cases seek a protective order for a third-party deposition,
no protective order is warranted here. The information sought
by the plaintiff is relevant and Hannaford itself has not
moved to quash or asked for a protective ...