United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
compel (Dkt. No. 15). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for the
reasons explained herein.
Kelly Shaffstall was an employee of Priority Freight Lines
when it was purchased by Defendant Old Dominion Freight Line,
Inc. in April 2007. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2.) Plaintiff was
initially employed as a technician, a role in which he was
responsible for repairing heavy equipment, such as trucks,
trailers, and forklifts. (Id. at 3.) During this
time, Plaintiff reported to Maintenance Manager Bruce Landry,
and Mr. Landry reported to Pacific Northwest Regional Manager
Don Orlowski. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that shortly
after Defendant purchased Priority Freight Lines, Mr. Landry
told him that Defendant prohibited working overtime.
2008, Plaintiff was promoted to Maintenance Manager, a role
in which he was responsible for supervising technicians and
performing administrative functions, such as maintaining
employee time records. (Id. at 4.) After he was
promoted, Plaintiff contends that Mr. Orlowski told him that
Defendant strictly prohibited employees from working
overtime. (Id.) Plaintiff also says that Mr.
Orlowski instructed him about appropriate procedures to use
to ensure that employees did not work over 40 hours in a
week. (Id.) One such procedure was changing employee
clock-in and clock-out times if the employee inaccurately
clocked in before they actually began working. (Id.)
April 2016, Plaintiff was diagnosed with cancer.
(Id. at 5.) In July 2017, Plaintiff had surgery to
remove tumors on his stomach and liver. (Id.)
Plaintiff told Mr. Orlowski about the upcoming surgery two
months before it was scheduled to occur. (Id.)
Plaintiff contends that, because he feared Defendant would
retaliate against him if he applied for leave under the
Washington Family and Medical Leave Act
(“WFMLA”), he used vacation time for his surgery.
(Id.) During his time off, Plaintiff still performed
some administrative functions of his job. (Id.)
December 2017, Mr. Orlowski died suddenly and was replaced by
former Maintenance Manager Lorrin Wallace. (Id.) In
January 2018, Plaintiff gave Mr. Wallace notice that he would
have another cancer treatment surgery in March 2018.
(Id.) Plaintiff reports that after he gave Mr.
Wallace this notice, Mr. Wallace began to “take issue
with Plaintiff for no apparent reason.” (Id.)
For example, Plaintiff contends that even though Plaintiff
had no control over the return of trucks, Mr. Wallace
threatened that he would demote or terminate Plaintiff if the
trucks did not return sooner. (Id.) Additionally,
Mr. Wallace criticized Plaintiff's appearance by telling
him: “I can't tell you how to cut your hair, but I
want managers to look professional.” (Id. at
out of fear of retaliation if he applied for leave under the
WFMLA, Plaintiff used vacation time and sick leave for his
March 2018 surgery. (Id. at 6.) His surgery was on
March 29, and he returned to work on April 12. (Id.)
Plaintiff worked on Friday, April 13, but he had to work from
home on Monday, April 16 because of a fever. (Id.)
On April 17, Plaintiff was at work when Mr. Wallace came into
Plaintiff's office with Regional Human Resources Manager
Tom Lillywhite on speakerphone. (Id.) Mr. Lillywhite
asked Plaintiff if he had been changing employee clock punch
times, and Plaintiff responded that he had to ensure that the
clock times reflected actual hours worked. (Id.) Mr.
Lillywhite responded that changing the clock times was
illegal, and that Plaintiff was terminated. (Id.)
Plaintiff believes that he was actually terminated because of
Defendant's discrimination against him based on his
disability. (Id. at 1.)
brought this lawsuit, alleging violation of Washington's
Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”), wrongful
discharge in violation of public policy, and violation of the
WFMLA. (Id. at 7-8.) During discovery, Plaintiff
sought responses to various requests for production and
interrogatories. (See Dkt. No. 15.) Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant failed to produce documents and answer
interrogatories sufficiently, which is the subject of the
instant motion to compel. (Id.)
Motion to Compel
Discovery motions are strongly disfavored. “Parties may
obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is
relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional
to the needs of the case . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). In addressing the proportionality of discovery, the
Court considers “the importance of the issues at stake
in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Id.
The Court has broad discretion to decide whether to compel
discovery. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen.
Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002).
requested disclosure is not made, the requesting party may
move for an order compelling such disclosure. Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(1). “The party who resists discovery has the
burden to show that discovery should not be allowed, and has
the burden of clarifying, explaining, and supporting its
objections.” Cable & Comput. Tech., Inc. v.
Lockheed Saunders, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 646, 650
(C.D. Cal. 1997). This burden is a heavy one in employment
discrimination lawsuits, where discovery rules are construed
liberally so as to provide the plaintiff with “broad
access to the employers' records.” Wards Cove
Packing Co., Inc. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642, 643 (1989),
superseded by statute on other grounds, Civil Rights
Act of 1991, Pub. L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1074.
seeks a fuller response to various requests for production
and interrogatories included in Defendant's first and
second sets of discovery responses. (See Dkt. No.
15.) In the first set, Plaintiff seeks a full response to
Requests for Production 5 and 8, which seek documents related
to the investigation into and reasons for Plaintiff's
termination (“First Discovery Set Dispute”). In
the second set, Plaintiff seeks a full response to
Interrogatories 1 and 2 and Requests for Production 1-3,