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Mayhew v. Angmar Medical Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 25, 2019

LYNNETTE MAYHEW, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGMAR MEDICAL HOLDINGS, INC., d/b/a ANGELS CARE HOME HEALTH, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          HON. KENNETH G. GALE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. (Doc. 40.) After reviewing the submissions of the parties, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as more fully set forth herein.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this action for allegedly unpaid and improper wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. Plaintiff alleges that she

worked as an hourly, non-exempt LPN from 2017 until the end of her employment. At all relevant times, Defendant employed Plaintiff as an hourly employee. Plaintiff alleges that her job duties routinely required her to work in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek, and that she was often denied overtime premiums and/or not paid for the entirety of the compensable straight time or overtime hours she worked per workweek.
Plaintiff alleges that she (and all similarly situated hourly, non-exempt employees) kept her hours of work using the company-wide timekeeping practices and policies put in place by Defendant. Plaintiff alleges that she and other similarly situated hourly, non-exempt employees were required to work off the clock. This work occurred before the beginning of their shifts, following the end of their shifts, and during their shifts.
As hourly, non-exempt employees, Plaintiff and other similarly situated hourly, nonexempt employees are and were entitled to overtime premiums for hours worked in excess of forty (40) each week. See 29 U.S.C. § 213. The unpaid work time that Defendant required Plaintiff and other similarly situated hourly, non-exempt employees to work off the clock often put Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees at a total number of hours exceeding forty (40) in a workweek. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's policies and practices willfully deny hourly, non-exempt employees overtime pay for all hours worked including hours worked beyond forty (40) in a workweek.

(Doc. 40, at 1-2; see also generally Doc. 1.) Plaintiff has plead her case as a collective action and recently filed a brief seeking conditional certification, which is currently pending before the District Court. (Doc. 40, at 10; Doc. 43.)

         Defendant generally denies Plaintiff's allegations. Defendant contends that it was never Plaintiff's employer. (Doc. 48, at 2-3.) Rather, according to Defendant, Plaintiff was employed by E Medical Group of Kansas, Inc. and E Medical Group NO. 4, LLC and during that employment, “the named defendant, AngMar Medical Holdings, Inc. provided certain payroll and Human Resources services to those entities.” (Id., at 3.) Defendant contends that it “was not plaintiff's employer, and indeed, has not employed any LPNs at any time material hereto.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “owns and operates multiple subsidiary entities, including but not limited to, E Medical Holdings of Kansas, E Medical Holdings of Kansas No. 4, Angels Care Home Health, and other entities.” (Doc. 1, at 3.) According to Plaintiff,

[e]vidence gathered to date indicates that Angmar was a co-employer pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §201, which states that under the FLSA, an ‘employer' subject to the Act is defined as ‘any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.' Under a Department of Labor (‘DOL') regulation interpreting the FLSA, joint employers exist ‘where the employee performs work which simultaneously benefits two or more employers.' 29 U.S.C. § 201. A joint employment relationship generally exists in situations: (1) where employers arrange to share the employee's service; (2) where one employer acts in the interest of the other employer in relation to the employee; or (3) where employers are not entirely dissociated with respect to a particular employee and may share control of the employee, either directly or indirectly, because of the fact that one employer is controlled by or under common control with the other employer. To determine the existence of joint employers, courts generally look to whether the alleged joint employers ‘exercise[d] significant control over the same employees.' Courts recognize independent entities as joint employers if the entities ‘share or co-determine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment.' Creech v. P.J. Wichita, L.L.C., No. 16-CV-2312-JAR-GEB, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33340, at *13-14 (D. Kan. Mar. 8, 2017). Plaintiff seeks evidence through this discovery to refute Defendant's assertion that it was not a Plaintiff's employer.

(Doc. 40, at 2-3.)

         At issue are certain requests contained in Plaintiff's second set of written discovery to Defendant. In addition to objections based on not being Plaintiff's employer, Defendant objects that the discovery requests at issue - including definitions used (or omitted) by Plaintiff therein - are vague, ambiguous, confusing, overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not proportional to the needs of the case. (Doc. 48, at 4-6.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standard for Motion to Compel.

         “Courts are given broad discretion to control and place appropriate limits on discovery.” Semsroth v. City of Wichita, No. 06-2376-KHV-DJW, 2007 WL 2287814, at *1 (D. Kan. Aug. 7, 2007) (citing Kutilek v. Gannon, 132 F.R.D. 296, 297 (D. Kan. 1990)) (in context of whether to stay discovery). Magistrate Judges are “afforded broad discretion in the resolution of non-dispositive discovery disputes.” In re Urethane Antitrust Litig., No. 04-1616-JWL, 2014 WL 61799, at *1 (D. Kan. Jan. 8, 2014) (citing A/R Roofing, L.L.C. v. Certainteed Corp., 2006 WL 3479015, at *3 (D. Kan. Nov. 30, 2006)) (other internal citations omitted).

Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) states that

[p]arties 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, considering the importance of the issues at state 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         As such, the requested information must be nonprivileged, relevant, and proportional to the needs of the case to be discoverable. Holick v. Burkhart, No.16-1188-JTM-KGG, 2018 WL 372440, at *2 (D. Kan. Jan. 11, 2018).

         Relevance is “broadly construed” at the discovery stage. Kimberly Young v. Physician Office Partners, Inc., No. 18-2481-KHV-TJJ, 2019 WL 4256365, at *1 (D. Kan. Sept. 9, 2019) (citation omitted). “Relevant information is ‘any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on' any party's claims or defenses.” Id. (quoting Rowan v. Sunflower Elec. Power Corp., No. 15-cv-9227-JWL-TJJ, 2016 WL 3745680, at *2 (D. Kan. July 13, 2016) (quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978)).

When the discovery sought appears relevant, the party resisting discovery has the burden to establish the lack of relevancy by demonstrating that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the scope of relevancy as defined under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), or (2) is of such marginal relevancy that the potential harm occasioned by that discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure.

Id. at *2 (quoting General Elec. Cap. Corp. v. Lear Corp., 215 F.R.D. 637, 640 (D. Kan. 2003)). A party asserting objections as to breadth, burdensomeness, vagueness, and ambiguity has the burden of supporting such objections unless the requests are facially objectionable. Id., at 3-4. Within these parameters, the Court will address the various objections raised.

         A. Temporal Objection.

         In response to Requests Nos. 2-4, 6, 8-9, 12-13, and 15, Defendant objects that only two years of documents should be produced, rather than the three years requested by Plaintiff. “Plaintiff requested three years of documents because that is the applicable statute of limitations if a willful violation is found.” (Doc. 40, at 7 (citing 29 U.S.C. 255(a).) Defendant contends that “[t]he statute of limitations applicable to plaintiff's claims is two years, unless she can prove a willful violation.” (Doc. 40-1, at 2 (citing 29 U.S.C. § 255(a).) Defendant continues that because “[t]here has been no finding of willfulness with regard to any act by defendant, which did not employ plaintiff, ” the three year time period is “too long.” (Id.)

         Regardless of whether the violation is willful or not, the Court finds the temporal limitation proposed by Plaintiff to be appropriate and not overly broad. The Court overrules Defendant's temporal objection as to the discovery requests at issue. Because this is the only objection Defendant raised in response to Requests Nos. 8, 12, and 13, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion as to these requests and ORDERS Defendant to ...


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