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Harlow v. Sprint Nextel Corp.

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

November 26, 2013

RICK HARLOW, et al., Plaintiffs,


David J. Waxse U.S. Magistrate Judge

Plaintiffs, current and former employees of Defendants’ Business Direct Channel, bring this action under the Kansas Wage Payment Act[1] and Kansas contract law, alleging Defendants failed to pay them earned commissions due to systematic problems with Defendants’ computer systems. The matter is currently before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel (ECF No. 310). Plaintiffs request an order compelling Defendant Sprint to produce data relevant to the calculation of commissions contained in two specific data warehouses, as well as data dictionaries and entity-relationship diagrams for these data warehouses responsive to Plaintiff’s sixth set of request for production of documents Nos. 48–49 and 52–53. As set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Relevant Facts

During discovery in this case, Plaintiffs sought production of Sprint’s billing data used for the calculation of sales commissions of its Business Direct Channel employees. For the relevant class period, Sprint maintained Ensemble, which was one of two billing systems used to calculate commissions for Sprint’s Business Direct Channel salespersons. The other billing system, P2K, was decommissioned in 2008. Defendants produced the Ensemble data in December 2011.

In addition to the Ensemble database, Sprint also has two data warehouses called the Nextel Data Warehouse (“NDW”) and Nextel Online Repository (“NOR”). These data warehouses are partial replications of data in the Ensemble database and store billing information, as well as confidential customer information unrelated to the calculation of commissions. Sprint explained their function as follows:

[NDW and NOR] were databases that were maintained and operated by Sprint. Each database contained, among other things, customer-, purchase-, or service-related data. The databases also contained partial replications of the Ensemble database. . . . On a daily basis, referential data from approximately seven tables in the NDW database was copied into [the commissions system] for use in the Business Direct commissions process.[2]

Throughout this case, the parties have conducted data discovery in three stages. During Stage 1, Sprint produced documents and data for the named plaintiffs. The Stage 1 documents and data production served as the basis for Stage 2 discovery, during which required the parties negotiated what documents and data were needed for the entire class. During Stage 2 of the data discovery period, the parties negotiated, reviewed and approved all of the documents and data to be produced, both in form and substance, which would be analyzed by the parties’ respective experts. The agreed-upon data set was referred to as the “Stage 3 data.”

Based upon Sprint’s identification of NDW and NOR as potentially relevant datasets during Stage 1, Plaintiffs sought production of NDW and NOR data during Stage 2. Sprint objected to producing NDW and NOR data, arguing that the data was duplicative of other data it had already produced. In response to Sprint’s objections, Plaintiffs thereafter agreed that a separate production of NDW and NOR data was unnecessary “[b]ased on [Sprint’s] representation that [NDW and NOR] only contain archived data that originated in the order entry system and basically are duplicative of what [Plaintiffs] will be getting from the order entry systems.” Plaintiffs then attempted to get assurances from Sprint that its representation that the data from the order entry systems had not been subject to changes that would make the archives stored in NDW and NOR a more accurate and cleaner version of the transaction at the time it occurred. When Sprint did not respond to this letter or clarify that NDW or NOR data were not duplicates of the order-entry data, Plaintiffs served Sprint with requests for admissions. These requests sought sworn confirmation of Sprint’s previous representations regarding the duplicate nature of data in NDW and NOR and the data already produced by Sprint from the Stage 3 order entry systems. Specifically, Plaintiffs’ Request for Admission No. 8 asked Defendants to admit that “there are no differences between the data stored in [NDW] and the data being produced [by Sprint] from the Stage 3 order entry systems.”[3] Request for Admission No. 9 sought the same admission but with respect to the NOR data warehouse. Defendants objected to both requests for admission as “vague and overbroad with respect the meaning of ‘data stored in [NDW or NOR]’ and ‘the data produced by [Sprint] from the Stage 3 order entry systems.’”[4] They also objected to the requests insofar as they implied that the NDW and NOR and data produced by Defendants are mirror images of one another. Defendants then admitted that the NDW and NOR are “not the original source of data for the Stage 3 order entry systems data, but rather the order entry systems Stage 3 data productions are the most original source of the requested data, which is what Plaintiffs requested and agreed to.”[5]

In December 2012, a year after it produced the Ensemble billing data, Sprint made a partial Stage 3 production. This production included data from the NDW for customer-purchased accessories that are credited to the appropriate salesperson. Sprint called this production the “NDW Accessory Pull, ” which it claims contains all of the potentially relevant data from the NDW that was possibly used for calculation of commissions for the Business Direct Channel. Plaintiffs claim that Sprint’s NDW Accessory Pull was not part of earlier Stage 1 and Stage 2 inquiries and therefore was produced without their review or approval. Sprint later produced the related Fulfillment Desktop Tool (“FDT”) order tables for the Ensemble database on June 26, 2013.

On May 3, 2013, Plaintiffs served their sixth set of requests for production of documents. Request Nos. 48 and 49 sought all data dictionaries and entity-relationship diagrams (“ERDs”) for the NDW. Request Nos. 52 and 53 sought data dictionaries and ERDs for the NOR. Defendants objected to the requests.

After making further efforts to confer about the NDW and NOR data, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Compel Defendants to produce the NDW and NOR data and related information sought by Plaintiffs’ sixth requests for production.

II. Duplicative and Relevance Objections to Producing the NDW and NOR Data

Sprint objects to producing the NDW and NOR data. It argues that it has already produced all the relevant data from the NDW that played a limited role in commissions calculations for the Business Direct Channel by its production of the NDW Accessory Pull data and the original source Ensemble billing data, which includes both the billing data and the FDT order tables. It contends that neither the NDW nor the NOR contains billing information that is different from the billing data included in the Ensemble database. Also, there is no additional data in the NDW that was used or relied upon to create the data in the NDW Accessory Pull. Because it has already produced all the relevant data, Sprint argues that it makes no sense to compel production of partial replicated data unrelated to Business Direct Channel commissions, especially at this late stage in the litigation. Sprint also agues that, other than the NDW Accessory Pull, the NDW does not contain data relevant to the calculation of commissions, and Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate how any unproduced NDW and NOR data is relevant to their claims or to the calculation of commissions for Business Direct Channel employees.

Plaintiffs assert that Sprint’s own documents and testimony confirm that the NDW and NOR data warehouses were used or referenced in some fashion in the commissions system relating to more than just accessory transactions. They point to the deposition testimony of Timothy Rassette, a former IT business consultant, who testified in the companion case, Sibley v. Sprint Nextel Corp., [6]that “additional information about commission transactions can be obtained in NDW. . . . [T]here’s information in NDW that commissions may need to use to make the transactions complete for commission payments. . . . An example would be a phone model number would be found in NDW.”[7]Plain ...

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