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Vitello v. Natrol LLC

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

August 7, 2019

CHRISTINE VITELLO, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
NATROL, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before me on Defendant Natrol, Inc.'s motion to compel. Natrol requests that I order Plaintiff Christine Vitello to produce (1) information related to her cognitive condition, including her disclosed diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); and (2) documents that support her claim that Cognium does not work and is worthless (or a certification that none exist). Natrol argues that the information is relevant during the class certification phase of the litigation, because it relates to Vitello's adequacy to serve as a class representative and her ability to certify a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Vitello argues these discovery requests represent an attempt by Natrol to begin merits discovery during the class discovery stage of the litigation. For the reasons below, I will grant Natrol's motion in part and deny it in part.

         I. Legal Standard

         When responding to discovery requests, parties must produce any nonprivileged, responsive materials that are “relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). As applied by federal courts, Rule 26(b) is “liberal in scope and interpretation.” Hofer v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1992). The party seeking discovery, however, must still make “[s]ome threshold showing of relevance.” Id. Once the requesting party makes that showing, “the burden is on the party resisting discovery to explain why discovery should be limited.” CitiMortgage, Inc. v. Allied Mortg. Grp., Inc., No. 4:10CV01863 JAR, 2012 WL 1554908, at *2 (E.D. Mo. May 1, 2012).

         II. Analysis

         The discovery requests at issue in this motion fall into two categories: information and documents related to Vitello's cognitive ability, including her Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis, and documents that support her claim that Cognium is ineffective. Specifically, Natrol requests that Vitello:

• “Identify and describe in detail any medical condition affecting Your memory, concentration or cognition, including . . . (b) the name and address of any physician or other medical professional who diagnosed the medical condition or from whom you have received treatment for the medical condition.” [Def.'s Memorandum, Exh. B, ECF No. 31, Interrogatory 14(b)]
• “Identify and describe in detail each prescription or non-prescription medication that you have used to improve memory, concentration or cognition in the last five years, including, without limitation . . . (i) the name, address and occupation of the person who prescribed the medication, if applicable.” [Id at Interrogatory 15(i)]
• Authorize “the release of employment, medical, and pharmacy records” related to “Plaintiffs cognitive state, including memory and concentration.” [Id at RFP 26]

         Natrol also requests that Vitello provide:

• “All Documents that You contend discredit the effectiveness of Cognium or Cera-Q (or BF-7)” [Id at RFP 12]
• “All Documents relating to consumer views and/or opinions relating to Cognium, Cera-Q (or BF-7), and/or Natrol that You have viewed.” [Id at RFP 13]

         The first three requests relate to Vitello's cognitive condition and should be produced. The final two seek information from Vitello in support of the merits of her claim, and Vitello is not required to produce those documents at the class certification stage.

         a. Discovery Related to Vitello's ...


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