MARTINSBURG – A federal judge has ruled against Dollar General’s objection to handing over the names of former employees who are potential members of a class action lawsuit.
On June 5, U.S. District Judge Gina Groh issued an opinion that said the plaintiff’s need for the information outweighs Dollar General’s concerns. The lawsuit alleges the company failed to pay Stephanie Paulino’s final wages within 72 hours of her termination.
“Plaintiff has shown a legitimate need for the requested information to determine whether common questions of law or fact exist and whether her claims are typical,” Groh wrote.
“Also, Plaintiff seeks the information of potential plaintiffs rather than disinterested third parties. Thus, as the court previously ordered, Defendants must disclose the names and contact information of former employees, but the protective order in place should sufficiently address any privacy concerns.”
Dollar General argued it was 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,” its motion said.
Dollar General is also 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 claimed.
“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 said.
“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 said.
“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.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at email@example.com.