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Amador v. U.S. Bank National Association

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 19, 2017

Antonio G. Amador, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. Bank National Association, Defendant.

          Matthew J. Schaap and Robert B. Bauer, Dougherty, Molenda, Solfest, Hills & Bauer P.A., for Plaintiff.

          David A. Schooler and Ellen A. Brinkman, Briggs & Morgan, PA, for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON United States District Court Judge

         Before the Court is the Objection/Appeal [Doc. No. 35] filed by Plaintiff Antonio G. Amador, Jr. to the magistrate judge's order of November 29, 2016, (“the Order”), as reflected in the Court's minutes [Doc. No. 33] and the hearing transcript [Doc. No. 37]. Plaintiff objects to a portion of the ruling on his Motion to Modify the Scheduling Order and to Compel Discovery [Doc. No. 22] that Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer denied in part.[1] Specifically, Amador objects to paragraphs 3 and 5 of the Order, consisting of Magistrate Judge Bowbeer's ruling concerning Plaintiff's request for all customer advice debit (“CAD”) services/tickets not previously produced by Defendant U.S. Bank and her denial of Plaintiff's request for attorneys' fees or expenses. (Pl.'s Obj. at 1.) Based on the Court's review of the parties' arguments and the record, the Court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiff's Objection/Appeal.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a race discrimination action brought pursuant to the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn. Stat. § 363A.01, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e. (Compl. ¶ 5 [Doc. No. 1-1].) Plaintiff was employed by U.S. Bank as a branch bank manager from September 2011 to April 2015. (Id. ¶¶ 7; 24; 38 .) Amador, who is Hispanic, alleges that he was terminated by U.S. Bank based on unlawful racial discrimination. (Id. ¶ 41.) He alleges that his superiors subjected him to treatment that was different than that of non-Hispanic persons. (Id. ¶¶ 13-17.) Defendant, however, contends that it terminated Amador's employment for two primary reasons: (1) the improper use of a company credit card; and (2) compliance concerns related to Amador's use of CAD slips. (Decl. of Christine Hobrough (“Hobrough Decl.”) ¶ 5 [Doc. No. 30].)

         Plaintiff maintains that he occasionally provided CAD service to known customers, consistent with his training at U.S. Bank. (Aff. of Antonio Amador (“Amador Aff.”) ¶¶ 6-7 [Doc. No. 24].) Through a CAD slip, a branch manager could transfer money from one account controlled by a good customer to another account, also controlled by the same customer, without the customer's signature. (Compl. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff alleges that when he was hired and trained by Defendant, he was trained to use the CAD service for particular customers. (Id.) As relevant here, Amador performed the service on behalf of “DK, ” the owner of a major restaurant in the Twin Cities, who maintained commercial and personal accounts with U.S. .Bank. (Id. ¶ 26; Def.'s Opp'n Mem. at 2, n.1 [Doc. No. 38].) Amador worked as a branch manager at U.S. Bank branches in the Midway of St. Paul and in Eagan. (Compl. ¶¶ 7; 9.) Although U.S. Bank denied Amador's request to bring DK's account with him when he transferred to the Eagan branch, (Hobrough Decl. ¶ 3), he nonetheless continued to respond to DK's email, text, or telephone requests to transfer money from his business account to his personal account. (Amador Dep. at 126-27, Ex. 4 to Decl. of David A. Schooler [Doc. No. 31-4].) Amador accomplished this through CAD slips. (Amador Aff. ¶¶ 10-11.)

         Defendant argues that it discourages the use of CAD slips, because they are normally reserved for correcting teller errors. (Hobrough Decl. at ¶ 4.) Defendant contends that CAD slips create risk for the bank because if a customer later challenges the transfer, there is no signature by which the customer can validate the transfer, nor an electronic footprint. (Id.; Def.'s Opp'n Mem. at 3 [Doc. No. 38].)

         In discovery, Plaintiff made the following document requests, pertinent to the instant dispute:

REQUEST NO. 1: All documents consulted, referred to, or identified in your Answers to Interrogatories and your Responses to the Request for Admissions served contemporaneously herewith.
REQUEST NO. 15: All documents or tangible material of any kind, including but not limited to all notes, memoranda, diaries, journals or other tangible evidence that concern or relate in any manner to the subject matter of the above-entitled lawsuit.
REQUEST NO. 16: To the extent that you deny any of Plaintiff's Requests for Admissions served contemporaneously herewith, provide each and every document that you believe supports your denials.

(Pl.'s Doc. Prod. Req., Ex. 2 to Decl. of Matthew J. Schaap (“Schaap Decl.”) [Doc. No. 25-2].) Plaintiff also served the following requests for admissions, in pertinent part:

REQUEST NO. 13: Admit that U.S. Bank transfers funds for some of its good clients, including paying a credit card from one of the client's U.S. Bank accounts or transferring money from the client's account to a family member's account, when requested by the client, through the branch manager's use of customer service debits to ...

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