United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Elizabeth A. Stafford, United States Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING THE MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 ORDER AND OVERRULING
D. Borman, United States District Judge.
action, Plaintiff Jason Duby sues his mother, Denise Walsh,
and her now-defunct business, Shirley May's Place, LLC,
alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. § 206 (“FLSA”) and
Michigan's Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 408.414 (“Wage
before his June 20, 2017 deposition, Plaintiff filed a Motion
for Protective Order in which he argued that many of the
discovery requests that had been propagated by Defendants
sought irrelevant information, and were therefore intended
solely as a means of harassment or embarrassment. (ECF No.
35.) At the deposition the next day, Plaintiff's counsel
refused to allow her client to answer any question pertaining
to any of the topics identified in the Motion for Protective
Order. Defendants then filed a Motion to Compel (ECF No. 46),
seeking an order requiring Plaintiff to respond to the
discovery requests he had challenged in his motion,
requesting that the court compel another deposition during
which Plaintiff would be required to answer the questions he
had been instructed not to answer, and seeking an award of
costs and attorney's fees incurred in preparing the
Motion to Compel.
September 8, 2017, Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford
issued an Order (ECF No. 55) denying Plaintiffs Motion for
Protective Order, and granting in part and denying in part
Defendants' Motion to Compel. Specifically, the
Magistrate Judge ordered Plaintiff to supplement his
discovery responses to answer the requests he had refused to
answer (subject to a few limitations), ordered Plaintiff to
appear for a continued deposition, and imposed monetary
sanctions on Plaintiffs counsel for her conduct at the June
20, 2017 deposition.
before the Court are Plaintiffs objections to the Magistrate
Judge's Order. Finding no merit in them, the Court will
overrule the objections and affirm the September 8, 2017
Order of the Magistrate Judge.
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 72(a) both provide that a district judge must
modify or set aside any portion of a magistrate judge's
non-dispositive pretrial order found to be "clearly
erroneous or contrary to law." 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). The United States Supreme
Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals have stated that
“a finding is ‘clearly erroneous' when
although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court
on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395
(1948) (explaining the clearly erroneous standard under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a)); Hagaman v.
Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 958 F.2d 684, 690 (6th
Cir. 1992) (quoting U.S. Gypsum Co.); see also
United States v. Mandycz, 200 F.R.D. 353, 356 (E.D.
Mich. 2001) (explaining the standard under Rule 72(a)).
standard does not empower a reviewing court to reverse a
Magistrate Judge's finding because it would have decided
the matter differently. Anderson v. City of Bessemer
City, ___N.C. ___, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985)
(interpreting the clearly erroneous standard in Rule 52(a)).
The Sixth Circuit has noted that: “[t]he question is
not whether the finding is the best or only conclusion that
can be drawn from the evidence, or whether it is the one
which the reviewing court would draw. Rather, the test is
whether there is evidence in the record to support the lower
court's finding, and whether its construction of that
evidence is a reasonable one.” Heights Cmty. Cong.
v. Hilltop Realty, Inc., 774 F.2d 135, 140 (6th Cir.
‘clearly erroneous' standard applies only to the
magistrate judge's factual findings; his legal
conclusions are reviewed under the plenary ‘contrary to
law' standard. . . . Therefore, [the reviewing court]
must exercise independent judgment with respect to the
magistrate judge's conclusions of law.”
Haworth, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 162 F.R.D.
289, 291 (W.D. Mich. 1995) (citing Gandee v. Glaser,
785 F.Supp. 684, 686 (S.D. Ohio 1992)). “‘An
order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies
relevant statutes, case law, or rules of
procedure.'” Mattox v. Edelman, No.
12-13762, 2014 WL 4829583, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 29, 2014)
(quoting Ford Motor Co. v. United States, No.
08-12960, 2009 WL 2922875, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 9, 2009)).
makes three objections to the Magistrate Judge's order.
Two concern specific discovery requests that the Magistrate
Judge ordered Plaintiff to answer, and one concerns the
Magistrate Judge's imposition of monetary sanctions
against Plaintiffs counsel. The Court will address each
objection in turn.
Discovery of Plaintiffs financial information
September 8, 2017 Order, the Magistrate Judge ordered
Plaintiff to “list each and every bank and credit
account in his name or accessed by him, and produce a
complete copy of records showing deposits to or payments from
such accounts, from October 2013 to March 2016, when his
employment at the Shirley May's Place ended.” (ECF
No. 55 at 8-9, Pg ID 3158-59.) Such discovery, the Magistrate
Judge held, “is relevant to defenses that [Plaintiff]
did not have an employment relationship ...