United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT JETBLUE AIRWAYS
CORPORATION'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND DENYING STAY
OF COURT'S ORDER
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant JetBlue Airways
Corporation (“JetBlue”)'s Motion for
Reconsideration. Dkt. #63. On May 28, 2019, this Court
granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion to
compel various discovery requests. Dkt. #50. Specifically,
the Court held that personnel files of the crewmembers on
board Flight 263 were discoverable. JetBlue seeks
clarification on the scope of the term “personnel
files” used in the Court's Order. Dkt. #63 at 1.
Alternatively, JetBlue asks that the Court reconsider its
Order on Plaintiff's motion to compel. Id.
JetBlue furthermore requests a stay of additional document
production pending the Court's clarification of these
issues. Id. at 3. The Court has determined that
response briefing is unnecessary. See Local Rules
W.D. Wash. LCR 7(h)(3).
first seeks clarification on whether the Court's Order
compelling production of “personnel files”
includes financial information contained in these personnel
files, such as payroll data, benefits, overtime amounts, out
of class work, and retirement. Dkt. #63 at 3. The Court's
Order defines the scope of “personnel files” as
those documents “related to an individual's
employment” with reference to the definition set forth
in Plaintiff's Interrogatories. Dkt. #50 at 5. The Court
therefore intended to use Plaintiff's definition of
“personnel files” without creating exceptions for
particular categories. Accordingly, the Court will consider
JetBlue's Motion as a motion for reconsideration with
respect to production of crewmembers' financial data.
for reconsideration are disfavored.” LCR 7(h)(1).
“The court will ordinarily deny such motions in the
absence of a showing of manifest error in the prior ruling or
a showing of new facts or legal authority which could not
have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable
diligence.” Id. Defendant's Motion neither
demonstrates manifest legal error, nor does it direct the
Court to new facts or legal authority that JetBlue could not
have presented in its prior response to Plaintiff's
motion to compel.
support of its Motion for Reconsideration, JetBlue
distinguishes between this case and Lauer v. Longevity
Med. Clinic PLLC-an employment discrimination case in
which the court determined it is difficult to select the part
of employment files “reasonably likely” to yield
admissible evidence. Dkt. #63 at 4 (citing C13-0860-JCC, 2014
WL 5471983, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 29, 2014)). In
demonstrating that Lauer is inapplicable to this
case, JetBlue states, “This case is not an employment
discrimination case.” Id.
this Court did not rely exclusively on Lauer-nor any
employment discrimination case-in holding that the personnel
files of crewmembers on board Flight 263 were discoverable.
On the contrary, the Court found persuasive a federal civil
rights discrimination case involving two African-Americans
allegedly denied service at a restaurant due to their race.
See Dkt. #50 at 6 (citing McCoo v. Denny's,
Inc., 192 F.R.D. 675, 679 (D. Kan. 2000)). The
McCoo court declined to parse out the
discoverability of specific categories of documents contained
in employees' personnel files, finding that
“[a]ll documents contained within those
employees' personnel files shall be produced to
Plaintiffs, ” with the exception of any documents
protected pursuant to an existing Consent Decree and
Stipulation. McCoo, 192 F.R.D. at 688 (emphasis
added). Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration makes no
reference to McCoo nor any case law adverse to its
holding that personnel files, in their entirety, are
discoverable in federal civil rights discrimination cases for
those employees who played an “important role” in
the incident giving rise to the lawsuit either as direct
participants or as witnesses. See Id. at 687.
JetBlue's Motion clarifies its position that financial
data should not be discoverable under the umbrella of
“personnel files” for which the Court compelled
production, on the basis that these records “are not
relevant to Plaintiff's discrimination claim and are
disproportionately burdensome and encroach on the privacy
interests of JetBlue's employees.” Dkt. #63 at 3.
However, in its original response to Plaintiff's motion
to compel, JetBlue provided a broader definition of
“employment information” that was unlikely to
lead to the discovery of admissible evidence: “payroll
data, sick leave, insurance, benefits,
counseling, retirement, demographic,
FMLA, or other sensitive employment
information . . . .” Dkt. #22 at 9 (emphasis
added). In analyzing this broader category of
“sensitive employment information” provided by
Defendant, the Court determined that certain categories of
crewmembers' employment information-even sensitive
information-could reasonably lead to the discovery of
evidence relevant to discriminatory intent. Dkt. #50 at 5-6.
While JetBlue now requests that the Court exempt from
discovery a narrower scope of this employment information
strictly limited to “financial data, ” that
specific question was not raised in parties' briefings on
the motion to compel and is not properly before the Court.
See Lauer, 2014 WL 5471983, at *3 (“The party
who resists discovery . . . has the burden of clarifying,
explaining, and supporting its objections.”) (internal
citations omitted). JetBlue's opportunity to parse
various parts of Plaintiff's discovery requests and
clarify objections was during briefing on Plaintiff's
motion to compel-not on a motion for reconsideration.
respect to JetBlue's argument that production of
personnel files encroaches on the privacy interests of
JetBlue employees, the Court considered the fact that JetBlue
produced Ms. Pancerman's personnel file without moving
for a revised protective order. See Dkt. #50 at 6.
Accordingly, the Court found that Plaintiff was entitled to
discover personnel files of the flight crew, with production
“made in accordance with parties' Protective
Order” to address any sensitive information.
Id. (emphasis added). Nevertheless, to the extent
that privacy concerns still exist for the remaining
crewmembers' personnel files, the Court's previous
Order does not preclude the parties from filing a revised
protective order to address any potentially sensitive
information not covered by the existing protective order. For
these reasons, JetBlue's Motion fails to demonstrate
manifest legal error by the Court in compelling production of
personnel files without exceptions for certain financial
also seeks clarification on whether the Court's Order
compelled production of medical information, including sick
leave records. Dkt. #63 at 4. Plaintiff's discovery
request specifically excludes “medical and FMLA
information.” Dkt. #20-1 at 26. Accordingly, the
Court's previous Order did not compel production of