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Adetula v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

October 15, 2019

ADEMOLA ADETULA and HOMER STRICKLAND, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC.; UNTED PARCEL SERVICE GENERAL SERVICES CO.; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

          Howard C. Nielson, Jr., District Judge

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          PAUL M. WARNER, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This case has been referred to Chief Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).[1] Before the court are (1) Defendants United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) and United Parcel Service General Services Co.'s (collectively, “Defendants”) motion for protective order[2] and (2) Plaintiffs Ademola Adetula and Homer Strickland's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) short form discovery motion.[3] The court has carefully reviewed the written memoranda submitted by the parties. Pursuant to Civil Rule 7-1(f) of the Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Utah, the court has concluded that oral argument is not necessary and will decide the motions on the basis of the written memoranda. See DUCivR 7-1(f).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Defendants' Motion for Protective Order

         Defendants seek a protective order precluding Plaintiffs from deposing five high-level UPS executives and precluding Plaintiffs from conducting five other depositions until such time as Defendants' counsel and the deponents are available. Plaintiffs oppose Defendants' motion.

         Pursuant to Rule 26(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1).

         A. Depositions of UPS Executives

         When determining whether a protective order should be issued to preclude the deposition of a high-level executive, the court must consider whether the deponent in question possesses any unique, personal knowledge that is relevant to the claims and defenses in the action. See, e.g., Thomas v. Int'l Bus. Machs., 48 F.3d 478, 483 (10th Cir. 1995); Magnusson v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, No. 2:14-CV-00161, 2015 WL 4092755, at *2 (D. Utah July 6, 2015), adhered to on reconsideration, No. 2:14-CV-00161, 2015 WL 5054315 (D. Utah Aug. 26, 2015); Estate of Turnbow v. Ogden City, No. 1:07CV114, 2008 WL 2004328, at *2 (D. Utah May 9, 2008).

         The five UPS executives in question are: UPS Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, David Abney (“Abney”); UPS Vice President of Human Capital, Joe Doole (“Doole”); UPS Vice President of Human Resources, Global Talent Strategy, Justine Turpin (“Turpin”); UPS Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Eduardo Martinez (“Martinez”); and retired Vice President of Operations for UPS Global Business Services, Elias Hakim (“Hakim”).

         The court concludes that Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that Abney has any unique, personal knowledge about the claims and defenses in this action. Plaintiffs point only to isolated and unilateral contacts they had with Abney, none of which demonstrates that Abney has any unique, personal knowledge relevant to this action. Furthermore, as Defendants have noted, not a single document produced in discovery was authored by Abney. Under those circumstances, the court grants the portion of Defendants' motion related to Abney.

         As for Doole, Turpin, and Martinez, Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that they have any unique, personal knowledge about the claims and defenses in this action. Plaintiffs arguments concerning those UPS executives are not only conclusory in nature, but the evidence cited by Plaintiffs does not establish that any of those UPS executives have unique, personal knowledge that is relevant to this action. Accordingly, the portion of Defendants motion related to Doole, Turpin, and Martinez is granted.

         With respect to whether Hakim has unique, personal knowledge about the claims and defenses in this action, which Defendants admit is “a closer call” than the other UPS executives, [4]the court concludes that Plaintiffs have demonstrated that he does. Even if Hakim was not the decisionmaker for any of the promotions sought by Plaintiffs, it appears that he had some involvement with promotion decisions in the Salt Lake City location in which Plaintiffs work. Accordingly, the portion of Defendants' motion related to Hakim is denied. The court hereby extends the fact discovery deadline to thirty days after the date of this order, limited to the purpose of allowing Plaintiffs to depose Hakim.

         B. ...


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