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Solo v. United Parcel Service Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 10, 2017

JOE SOLO, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE CO., Defendant.

          Gerald E. Rosen, District Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER

          R. Steven Whalen, Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatory No. 1 [Doc. #40]. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be GRANTED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a putative consumer class action case in which Plaintiffs claim that Defendant United Parcel Service Co. (“UPS”) breached its contract with shippers by overcharging for shipments that had a declared value of over $300. Specifically, UPS's pricing table contained “declared value service” charges that increased incrementally with the declared value of the package being shipped. From zero to $100, the charge was zero, and from $100.01 to $50, 000, the charge was $0.85 “for each $100.00...of the total value declared.” Plaintiffs claim that for packages with a declared value of over $300, UPS charged $0.85 for the first $100 of value, in violation of the contractually binding pricing table.

         Plaintiffs' Interrogatory No. 1 reads as follows:

A. Separately for Direct Shippers and Third-Party Retailer Shippers, provide the total number of Qualifying Shipments carried by UPS from each Originating State for the time periods indicated in the chart attached as Exhibit A hereto and made part hereof.
B. Separately for Direct Shippers and Third-Party Retailer Shippers, identify the number of Qualifying Shipments carried by UPS from December 30, 2013, to the close of the calendar month immediately preceding the response to this interrogatory.
C. Separately for Direct Shippers and Third-Party Retailer Shippers, identify the number of Qualifying Shipments carried by UPS from June 30, 2013, to December 29, 2013.
D. For each of the totals in answer to the above Interrogatory No. 1A-1C, quantify on a monthly basis the Qualifying Shipments you contend were not subject to UPS's published pricing tables for declaring excess value, including the pricing tables contained in the Declared Value of Carriage charts on pages 70 and 136 of the UPS Rate and Service Guide updated on July 8, 2013; and identify the agreements, terms, pricing tables, or rates that were used to price coverage for loss or damage for such Qualifying Shipments, and the customers to whom they applied.

         Because there is a nation-wide class, the statutes of limitations vary from state to state. Exhibit A to the interrogatory identifies five distinct time periods, each ending on December 29, 2013, with the longest period beginning in 2008.

         UPS contends that providing the package-specific information requested in Interrogatory No. 1 would be excessively burdensome in terms of both time, manpower, and costs. Karl Wixtrom, a Senior Program Manager with UPS, submitted a declaration stating as follows.[1] Due to the enormous amount of data that runs through UPS's billing system, the “package level detail” requested by Plaintiffs is maintained in a “live” format (i.e., a format that is easily accessible electronically) for only limited time period; it is then archived on backup tapes. Based on the facts in Mr. Wixtrom's declaration, UPS argues that the cost and burden of responding to the interrogatory on a package-level basis, going back as far as 2008, would be overwhelming:

“UPS estimates that it would take at least six months just to restore the archived tapes as described above, at a cost of $120, 000 in labor, requiring UPS employees to take on responsibilities outside of their regular duties. Further, that estimate does not include the time and expense of analyzing the data once extracted in order to answer Interrogatory No. 1, which would require extensive additional analysis of each account number and the manual review of contract language for individual shipper. Such a process would also require a ...

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