Mancia v. Mayflower Textile Services Co., was a collective action against several Mayflower companies for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiffs’ claim was that they had not been paid for overtime work, and illegal deductions were being made from their wages. Despite warnings, the parties didn’t cooperate or communicate as they were obligated to do.
In Mancia v. Mayflower Textile Services Co., Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm’s 30-page opinion created case law mandating greater cooperation and communication between opposing lawyers during discovery. The judge was annoyed with the requesting lawyer’s use of the words “any and all” and the responding lawyer’s equally foot-dragging objections that included the words “overbroad” or “burdensome.” In his opinion, Grimm focused on FRCP Rule 26(g), which he considered the most violated discovery rule.
Rule 26(g) is an interesting rule in that it requires the parties and their lawyers to comply with the purposes of Rules 26 through 37. How? By requiring lawyers to certify (by signature) that each and every discovery request, response to a request, and objection to a request is legitimate — not meant to drive up costs or cause delays. The certification is critical to ensure that parties cooperate in good faith during e-discovery to control costs and avoid delays. To motivate cooperation, the rule also encourages judges to impose sanctions for any attempts to abuse discovery.
Top lessons to be learned from Judge Grimm in this case are
If you or your attorney violates the certification rules, you’ll be sanctioned.
Attorneys have an affirmative duty to behave responsibly during discovery.
You should consider the needs of your case, the importance of the issue, and the amount in controversy in discovery.
Discovery should be conducted so that the costs are proportional to what is a stake in the case.
Your attorney needs to cooperate in the discovery process.
The cautions are both legal under the FRCP and ethical under the professional rules of conduct.