MARTINSBURG – Attorneys for Dollar General are concerned that they are being forced to give a potential client list to plaintiffs attorneys representing a former employee in a class action lawsuit.
Steptoe & Johnson attorney Larry J. Rector, who is representing Dollar General in the lawsuit, filed an emergency motion on May 9 that requests U.S. District Judge Gina Groh reconsider a discovery order that requires the company to turn over contact information for potential class members.
Stephanie N. Paulino filed the lawsuit in 2012, alleging the company violated the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act when it failed to pay her final wages within 72 hours of her termination.
Dollar General says it is premature to offer information on former employees who were fired within the past five years, as U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Seibert ordered on Feb. 8.
“If defendants are required to produce names and contact information of the former employees, it will work manifest injustice to the defendants and former non-party employees due to (1) the irreversible nature of the production of names and contact information and (2) the privacy interests of non-party employees,” the motion says.
Dollar General is arguing that certification for the proposed class is improper. If it wins its argument, it will not be able to undo the release of the contact information of former employees, it says.
“Moreover, Plaintiff and her lawyers will have access to highly confidential information to which they ultimately have no legal need or right to effectively litigate this matter,” the motion says.
“Additionally, this confidential information could become a client list for Plaintiff’s counsel and result in further litigation for Defendants which is fundamentally unjust and contrary to the intent and purpose of class litigation and Rule 23.”
Paulino and the proposed class are represented by Martinsburg attorneys David Hammer – of Hammer, Ferretti and Schiavoni – and Harry P. Waddell.
They filed a response to the emergency motion on May 13, claiming it is Dollar General’s fourth attempt to restrict discovery on the same issue.
“Defendants’ latest motion for reconsideration is frivolous and without basis in law or fact, and, therefore, made with improper purpose,” the response says.
“Although Defendants deny that they seek to ‘unnecessarily delay these proceedings,’ nearly seven months have passed without Plaintiff having received the full discovery to which she is entitled to under the Rules and as ordered successively by Magistrate Judge Seibert and by this Court.”
The response also says the conduct of Dollar General’s attorneys has needlessly slowed the pace of the case and added fees and costs to Paulino’s claims.
Previously, the two sides argued over $720 in attorneys fees.
Dollar General was ordered to pay fees for extra work Paulino’s attorneys had to perform in order to fight a discovery dispute. Both Hammer and Waddell requested fees that amounted to $400 per hour, but Dollar General argued that figure should be reduced to $300 per hour.
The total difference when considering the amount of time worked was only $720. Groh agreed with Dollar General’s argument and used the $300 figure in an order filed May 13.
Overall, the fees and expenses awarded to Hammer were $7,620 and $1,800 to Waddell.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at email@example.com.