United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
F. Cox District Judge.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART UNION
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL (DE 36) AND EXTENDING THE
DISPOSITIVE MOTION DEADLINE TO AUGUST 4, 2017
Anthony P. Patti UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court for consideration of
Defendant's motion to compel (DE 36), Plaintiff's
response (DE 39), Defendant's reply (DE 40), and the
parties' statements of resolved issues (DE 41 and 42).
For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
action involves a dispute between Plaintiff, Norfolk Southern
Railway Company (“NS”), and the only remaining
Defendant, International Association of Sheet M Air, Rail,
and Transportation Workers - Transportation Division
(“Union”), over whether NS's plan to use
crews based in Toledo, Ohio to implement new rail service
between Toledo and three Detroit Edison (“DTE”)
plants in Michigan violates the terms of their collective
bargaining agreement (“CBA”). The decision to use
Ohio-based crews apparently came as a shock to the Union
Defendants in Michigan.
dispute in this action is governed by the Railway Labor Act,
45 U.S.C. §§ 151-188 (“RLA”), which
differentiates between major and minor CBA disputes, with
minor disputes being subject to compulsory and binding
arbitration. In this matter, the Court must therefore
ultimately determine whether the instant action involves a
major or minor dispute. The Supreme Court has described the
test to determine whether a dispute is major or minor under
the RLA as follows:
Where an employer asserts a contractual right to take the
contested action, the ensuing dispute is minor if the action
is arguably justified by the terms of the parties'
collective-bargaining agreement. Where, in contrast, the
employer's claims are frivolous or obviously
insubstantial, the dispute is major.
Consol. Rail Corp. v. Ry. Labor Executives'
Ass'n, 491 U.S. 299, 307 (1989).
under these circumstances that Union Defendant has filed the
instant motion. The parties in this matter have engaged in
some discovery up to this point in time. The discovery matter
at issue involves NS's contract with DTE and NS's
internal emails relating to that contract. After the parties
entered into a stipulated confidentiality agreement, NS
provided the Union Defendant with heavily redacted versions
of both categories of documents. The Union Defendant asserts
that the documents are so heavily redacted that their use is
limited, and now seeks a Court order requiring NS to provide
opposes the motion, arguing that the redacted portions of the
documents are not relevant in the instant matter and could be
prejudicial if released. It points to the stipulated
confidentiality agreement, in which the Union Defendants
agreed to receive redacted versions of the DTE agreement, and
asserts that its production complied with both the Union
Defendant's discovery requests and the terms of the
matter came before me for a hearing on June 20, 2017, at
which both parties, through counsel, presented their
arguments. I took the matter under consideration and ordered
that NS provide redacted and unredacted versions of the
documents at issue for an in camera review. I
received those documents on June 26, 2017 and reviewed them
thoroughly. I will address each of the parties' arguments
scope of discovery, which permits a party to obtain
“any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of
the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake
in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit, ” is always
subject to being “limited by court order[, ]” and
thus, within the sound discretion of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). The Court's discretion is broad. Bush v.
Dictaphone Corp., 161 F.3d 363, 367 (6th Cir. 1998).
Further, discovery is more liberal than even the trial
setting, as Rule 26(b) allows information that “need
not be admissible in evidence” to be discoverable.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). However, the court must also balance
the “right to discovery with the need to prevent
‘fishing expeditions.'” Conti v. Am. Axle
& Mfg., Inc., 326 F. App'x 900, 907 (6th Cir.
2009) (quoting Bush, 161 F.3d at 367). Rule 37(a)
allows a party to move for an order compelling “an
answer, designation, production, or inspection” if the
opposing party has failed to provide a discovery response.