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Lutzeier v. Citigroup Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

February 2, 2015

FRED E. LUTZEIER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITIGROUP INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RONNIE I. WHITE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (ECF No. 79) and Plaintiff's Second Motion to Compel Discovery (ECF No. 88). These matters are fully briefed and ready for disposition.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff contends he was a whistleblower who was terminated by Defendants in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley ("SOX") Act and the Dodd Frank Act, as well as claims for violation of the Missouri public policy exception to wrongful discharge, and for age discrimination in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. Plaintiff alleges that he was employed as a director in the Internal Audit Group ("IA Group") in Citigroup Management Corp.'s ("CMC") offices in O'Fallon, Missouri from February 27, 2012 to February 25, 2013. On February 25, 2013, Plaintiff's employment with CMC was terminated, effective April 26, 2013. Defendants claim that Plaintiff was terminated as part of a global reorganization of the IA Group and based upon the location of his position and his "relatively brief' tenure at CMC. (ECF No. 87 at 3).

LEGAL STANDARD

Generally, "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense-including theĀ· existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(l). The Federal rules further provide for limits on discovery requests. Specifically,

court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rule if it determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i)-(iii); Halbach v. Great-W. Life & Annuity Ins. Co., No. 4:05CV02399 ERW, 2007 WL 2702651, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 12, 2007). Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's First Motion to Compel

A. General Objections

Plaintiff contends that the Court should overrule Defendants' general, boilerplate objections. In response, Defendant argues that (1) Plaintiff never addressed this issue during their meet and confer, (2) Defendants agreed to produce documents for the requests for which they lodged only a general objection, and (3) Plaintiff also incorporated his general objections into each and every request, as Defendants did. (ECF No. 87 at 7).

The Court will overrule Defendants' general objections. See Kooima v. Zacklift Intern. Inc., 209 F.R.D. 444, 446 (D.S.D.2002)("[B]oilerplate objections are unacceptable."). Defendants have stated that they have not withheld any documents based upon general, boilerplate objections. (ECF No. 87 at 6). Nevertheless, the Court orders Defendants to withdraw their general objections (except for privilege) and respond to Plaintiff's discovery requests accordingly.

B. Specific Objections

1. Request No. 1: Plaintiff's role with LOIS/COSMOS

Plaintiff notes that Defendants objected to producing documents relating to Plaintiff's role, responsibilities and communications in connection with the LOIS/COSMOS audit. (ECF No. 80 at 5). Defendants contend that they have produced responsive, non-privileged documents and will continue to do so. (ECF No. 87 at 10). They further state that this issue was not discussed in-depth during the October 16, 2014 meet and confer. The Court orders Defendants to continue to produce documents in accordance with Rule 34.

2. Request No. 2(a)-(i): Documents Relating to Plaintiff's Employment and Termination

Plaintiff seeks documents related to his employment with CMC and his termination, including (i) the evaluation(s) of Plaintiff's job performance; (ii) the selection of Plaintiff to attend Citi's executive management training and/or leadership development program(s); (iii) the benefits and compensation paid to Plaintiff during such employment; (iv) any coaching or disciplinary actions taken with respect to Plaintiff during such employment; (v) the personnel file maintained with respect to Plaintiff; (vi) the personnel policies and/or handbooks in effect during Plaintiff's employment; (vii) the severance policies and procedures in effect during Plaintiff's employment, (viii) the reduction in force policies and procedures in effect during Plaintiff's employment, and (ix) the alleged elimination of Plaintiff's position of employment. (ECF No. 80 at 8). Plaintiff claims this information is relevant to his claims as to whether he was meeting his employer's reasonable expectations, whether he was retaliated against and lost wages, and whether Plaintiff was terminated as part of a reduction in force ("RIF").

During the October 16, 2014 call, Defendants contend that they agreed to produce documents responsive to Request No. 2. (ECF No. 87 at 11-12). Defendants, however, stated that Plaintiff was not selected for the "Executive Management Training Program" (see Request No. 2(b)) but Defendants agreed to produce documents relating to the program for which Plaintiff was selected. With respect to Requests Nos. 2(g) to 2(i), Defendants state that they offered ...


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