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McKey v. U.S. Bank N.A.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 9, 2018

JULIE MCKEY, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Defendant.

          Brian Rochel, Esq., Teske, Katz, Kitzer & Rochel for plaintiff.

          Ellen Brinkman. Esq. and Kristin Emmons, Esq., Briggs & Morgan, for defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         In her lawsuit alleging age-based employment discrimination, Plaintiff Julie McKey (“McKey”) seeks (1) to compel the production of personnel files for similarly situated employees and (2) leave to continue the depositions of relevant witnesses based upon such production.[1] For the reasons addressed below, the Motion to Compel is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         FACTS

         McKey worked for Defendant U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”) for 41 years. Compl. ¶ 7, Docket No. 1. In May 2016, McKey was placed on a sixty-day performance improvement plan (“PIP”). Compl. at ¶ 27. After being placed on the PIP, McKey informed human resources personnel she believed she was being subjected to age discrimination. Compl. at ¶ 28. In October 2016, McKey's employment was terminated by U.S. Bank. Compl. at ¶ 7, Docket No. 1. McKey alleges her termination was based upon her age or her report to human resources. Compl. ¶¶ 48, 52. U.S. Bank maintains that McKey was terminated for performance-based issues. Def. Mem. Opp. to Mot. to Compel and for Sanctions 2-3, Docket No. 27.

         On May 15, 2018, McKey brought this Motion to Compel. The remaining discovery dispute is based on McKey's April 2, 2018 request that U.S. Bank produce the complete personnel records of each employee who reported directly to Yvonne Mehsikomer from January 1, 2013 to present. Rochel Decl. Ex. K, at 1 (Pl.'s Req. Prod. No. 29), Docket No. 30. Two days later, McKey proposed to narrow the scope of the requested documents to those pertaining to discipline, termination, performance conduct, or performance evaluation and limited the time period from January 1, 2015 to present. Pl.'s Second Am. Meet and Confer Statement ¶ 9, Docket No. 39. This narrowed the number of individuals whose records would be subject to the request to nineteen. Def. Mem. Opp. 6, Docket No. 27. U.S. Bank objected to the personnel record request made on April 2, 2018 on multiple grounds. Rochel Decl. Ex. L, at 3, Docket No. 30. U.S. Bank maintains the proposed April 4th narrowing of the scope of documents is still disproportionate to the needs of the case.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Discovery standard

         Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to “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). Generally, Rule 26 “is to be construed broadly and thus encompasses ‘any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matters that could bear on, any issues that is or may be in the case.'” In re Mild Prods. Antitrust Litig., 84 F.Supp.2d 1016, 1027 (D. Minn. 1997) (quoting Oppenheimer Fund Inc., v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978)). However, courts must balance the interests of the case with the burdens discovery may impose. Amador v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Assoc., 2017 WL 5151680, at *5 (D. Minn. Nov. 6, 2017) (stating that the new proportionality language requires “giving due consideration to the importance of the information, issues of access, and the balance between the burden of production and expense and the benefit of the information”).

         II. McKey's record request

         A. Proportionality

         U.S. Bank argues that McKey's motion to compel should be denied because the requested discovery is disproportionate to the needs of the case. Def. Mem. Opp. 13, Docket No. 27. U.S. Bank contends that 2015 Amendments to Rule 26(b)(1), specifically the addition of the word “proportional”, alter the Court's analysis of discovery requests. Id. However, the concept of proportionality has been enshrined within 26(b) since the 1983 Amendments. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) advisory committee's note to 2015 amendment. Furthermore, “restoring the proportionality calculation to Rule 26 does not change the existing responsibilities of the court.” Id. Most of the proportionality factors set forth in 26(b)(1) have been part of the discovery rules since the 1983 and 1993 Amendments. Id. In ...


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