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Raymond v. Spirit Aerosystems Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 21, 2017

DONETTA RAYMOND, et al., Plaintiffs,



         This matter is before the Court on the Motion of non-party Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001 (“SPEEA”) to Quash Defendants' Second Subpoena (ECF No. 318). On December 14, 2017, the Court convened an in-person hearing to address the pending motion. Plaintiffs appeared through counsel, Randall Rathbun, with counsel Diane King and Kimberly Jones present by telephone. Defendants appeared through counsel, Boyd Byers and Teresa Shulda. Movant SPEEA appeared through counsel, Jeanette Fedele and Thomas Hammond. After consideration of both the arguments of counsel and the parties' briefing, the Court GRANTED SPEEA's Motion (ECF No. 318) at hearing. The previously-announced ruling of the Court is now memorialized below.

         I. Background[1]

         A. Nature of Suit

         The significant factual history of this case has been discussed in detail in previous orders (see ECF Nos. 202, 233) and will not be repeated in full here. Generally, in July and August 2013, defendant Spirit AeroSystems (“Spirit”)[2] conducted a “reduction in force” (“RIF”) which terminated the employment of the named Plaintiffs and more than two hundred other workers. The workers were all members of SPEEA, a labor union. Plaintiffs claim the RIF eliminated a disproportionate number of Spirit's older employees. Spirit alleges Plaintiffs and others like them were discharged, and not considered for rehire, for lawful reasons-primarily their poor performance. Plaintiffs filed this collective action in July 2016, claiming Spirit wrongfully terminated their employment and/or later failed to consider them for new job openings because of their age and, in some cases, the older employees' (or family members') medical conditions and related medical expenses. In addition to the collective action claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act[3] (“ADEA”), some Plaintiffs also assert individual ADEA claims, while other Plaintiffs claim their termination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act[4] (“ADA”) and/or the Family and Medical Leave Act[5] (“FMLA”).

         B. Procedural Posture

         The unique posture of this case was also addressed in prior decisions (see, e.g., ECF No. 202) and will not be repeated to the extent addressed therein. Highly summarized, this case is progressing on a phased discovery plan, and the initial phase- focused on the validity of releases signed by a majority of Plaintiffs at termination-is closing soon. After the first phase issues are resolved through dispositive motions, the case will progress to a second phase of discovery to focus on Plaintiffs' wrongful termination claims.

         C. Discovery Disputes

         This case has been fraught with a number of disputes, as evidenced by the considerable docket and length of time it has taken to reach the end of Phase I discovery. Bearing some relevance to the instant motion were two more recent discovery issues. One dispute occurred in September 2017, when during a conference on Spirit's request for extension of time to compel discovery, Spirit revealed to the Court that its initial subpoena to non-party SPEEA had gone unanswered for several months despite communications between Spirit and SPEEA counsel (Order, ECF No. 264). This Court entered an Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 263), and SPEEA responded soon after, providing Spirit with a number of documents related to its investigations and communications surrounding the July/August 2013 lay-offs (see ECF No. 266).

         Most recently, on October 12, 2017, the Court held a telephone discovery conference with the parties to work through both sides' concerns regarding the scope of Phase I discovery (see Order, ECF No. 273). Essentially, Plaintiffs sought discovery from Spirit regarding what Spirit called performance terminations of other non-party employees in March 2013. Plaintiffs contend the March 2013 terminations and July/August 2013 lay-offs were part of a single, but “phased” mass termination plan by Spirit. Spirit objected to this discovery as irrelevant and because it related to the misappropriated documents discussed in this Court's June 30, 2017 sanction order (ECF No. 233). The Court found that the information sought by Plaintiffs was at least minimally relevant to Phase I discovery; was discovered independently from the misappropriated documents; and permitted Plaintiffs to discover the information (Order, ECF No. 273).

         During the October 12 conference, Spirit also sought multiple documents from Plaintiffs. Spirit's requests included information and various communications between Plaintiffs and SPEEA, and between the Plaintiffs themselves, regarding not only the waivers at issue in Phase I, but also related to the terminations as a whole. Plaintiffs objected, arguing they should produce only communications and information regarding the waivers, but not all communication related to the merits of the terminations. They contended the merits concerns were only a Phase II issue and therefore outside the scope of Phase I discovery.

         Plaintiffs did not argue the information lacked relevance to Phase II; only that it was outside the scope of Phase I. Because the information had some minimal relevance to Phase I, and would almost certainly be relevant to Phase II, Plaintiffs were ordered to produce it. (Order, ECF No. 273).

         II. SPEEA's Motion to Quash (ECF No. 318)

         Following the October 2017 discovery conference, on November 6, 2017, Spirit issued a second subpoena to SPEEA. This second subpoena sought the same types of investigative documents and communications as Spirit's first subpoena to SPEEA, but focused on the March 2013 terminations rather than the July/August lay-offs. SPEEA then filed a motion to quash the subpoena, which the Court now considers.

         A. ...

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