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Williams v. Angie's List, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 10, 2017

NICK WILLIAMS, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
ANGIE'S LIST, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL

          MARA L DINSMORE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         As this discovery dispute demonstrates, long gone are the days when physical punches on time cards definitively determined the compensation an employee was owed for hours worked on the company floor. The hodgepodge of technological time marking involved in this case would have far exceeded the imagination of the brothers Willard and Harlow Bundy, who, in the late-nineteenth century, were the first to commercialize the once-ubiquitous punch clock. See Wilson Casey, Firsts: Origins of Everyday Things that Changed the World 164 (2009). Having punched considerable time of its own wading through the approximately 250 pages of briefing and exhibits submitted by the parties, the Court now GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs, 48 current and former employees of Angie's List, allege that Angie's List instructed them to underreport their overtime hours on their computerized time records (using a service called TimeTracker), the consequence of which is that they allege entitlement to substantial compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19. To prove these claims, Plaintiffs have sought a variety of records that shed some light on their hours spent laboring in Angie's List's employ. The data sought thus far has included company TimeTracker records, badge-swipe data, and work calendars.

         So far, so good, it might appear; but there is a catch: Plaintiffs frequently worked from home, and at least some of these hours are likely not reflected in any of these records- particularly if, as alleged and supported by testimony, Plaintiffs were operating under instructions not to report some of their work hours on their official time records. Thus, Plaintiffs now seek background data automatically recorded while they were working on Salesforce, a sales platform used by Angie's List, in an effort to close the gaps allegedly left by the other records. Angie's List has provided one year's worth of this background data already, but refuses to produce the other two years of data requested by Plaintiffs. These additional two years of records are the subject of the instant Motion.

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(3), a party may move the Court to compel production of documents if the party's request comports with the scope of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv). The scope of discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) is broad, only limited from the outset to “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id. Requests for production, such as those at issue in this case, are subject to the common-sense limitation that the items be within “the responding party's possession, custody, or control.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1). This Court is accorded “broad discretion in matters relating to discovery” and must be cognizant of the “strong public policy in favor of disclosure of relevant materials.” Patterson v. Avery Dennison Corp., 281 F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2002).

         III. Discussion

         Angie's List first responds to Plaintiffs' Motion with a threshold argument; namely, that Plaintiffs' request for the Salesforce records falls outside of Rule 34(a)(1) because the records are outside of Angie's List's “possession, custody, or control.” Second, Angie's List argues if the Court grants the Motion, it should apportion some or all of the costs of production to Plaintiffs. The Court addresses each of these issues in turn.

         A. Possession, Custody, or Control

         Angie's List first argues that it cannot be compelled to comply with Plaintiffs' request because the Salesforce background data is outside of its “possession, custody, or control.” In support, Angie's List argues that Salesforce is a third-party provider of services and that it has no greater rights to the background data than any other person. Angie's List points to the $15, 000 invoice it received from Salesforce for the background data it already provided to Plaintiffs.

         Plaintiffs, in reply, argue that Angie's List's argument is belied by their conduct in producing a year's worth of background data. Plaintiffs argue that Angie's List is conflating the requirement of “control” with undue cost or burden under the proportionality prong of Rule 26(b).

         1. Relevant Facts

         Angie's List has used Salesforce's sales platform since 2012. [Dkt. 100 ¶ 2 (declaration of Salesforce employee Avanti Sardesai offered by Plaintiffs); Dkt. 103-2 ¶ 2 (declaration of Salesforce employee Avanti Sardesai offered by Angie's List).] Angie's List, as an end user of Salesforce, has regular access to a wide array of sales data and metrics. [SeeDkt. 103-2 ¶ 3.] Salesforce's platform, as part of the ordinary course of business and functioning of the system, also logs background data regarding each client's Salesforce use. [Dkt. 100 ¶¶ 4-9, 12.] While “[a]n end user” such as Angie's List “does not typically access this log data” [Dkt. 103-2 ¶ 7], these event records are maintained “for Angie's List, Inc. . . . in the regular course of business” [Dkt. 100 ¶ 12]. These records may be used for a variety of purposes, including to allow Angie's List “to determine what activities an Angie's List User performed in Salesforce and the date and time when those activities were performed” [id. ¶ 13].

         After multiple email exchanges, meets-and-confers, delays, and conferences with the Court, Angie's List produced one year's worth of Salesforce background data in response to Plaintiffs' request for production served on June 15, 2016. [See Dkt. 67; Dkt. 91; Dkt. 97-6; Dkt. 97-7; Dkt. 97-8; Dkt. 97-9; Dkt. 97-10; Dkt. 97-11; Dkt. 97-12; Dkt. 97-13; Dkt. 97-14; Dkt. 97-15; Dkt. ...


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