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Batesville Casket Company, Inc. v. United Steel Workers of America

May 19, 2008

BATESVILLE CASKET COMPANY, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION NO. 9137, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harry S. Mattice, Jr. United States District Judge

Judge Mattice

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant's Rule 59(e) Motion to Alter or Amend Memorandum and Order Concerning Discovery (Court Doc. 45.) Defendant moves for reconsideration of United States Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter's Memorandum and Order of December 5, 2007, which held that Plaintiff's limited discovery requests were relevant to the instant case, and ordered Defendant to comply with Plaintiff's requests. (Court Doc. 41.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendant seeks reconsideration of Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), which states that "[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 10 days after the entry of the judgment." As no judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 has been entered in the instant case, Rule 59(e) is inapposite.

Instead, the Court will treat Defendant's motion as an objection to Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order. Pursuant to the Federal Magistrate Judge's Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636, a district court may designate a magistrate judge to decide any nondispositive pretrial matter, such as the one addressed by Magistrate Judge Carter. Id. § 636(b)(1)(A). A district court may reconsider a magistrate judge's decision on matters so designated and overturn it only if it is "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." Id. This is the standard the Court will apply to Defendant's instant motion.

II. ANALYSIS

Defendant asserts several points of error in its brief. First, it argues that the discovery requests at issue are not relevant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1). Defendant also contends that the answers to Plaintiff's thirteen requests for admissions and three interrogatories "can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i). Finally, Defendant argues that Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order is in error because it contains a citation to Spero Electric Corp. v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 439 F.3d 324 (6th Cir. 2006) (abrogated by Michigan Family Resources, Inc. v. Service Employees International Union, 475 F.3d 746 (6th Cir. 2007) (en banc). The Court will address each of Defendant's arguments.

A. Citation to Spero

Defendant dedicates much of its briefing to the argument that "the entire Memorandum and Order is based on a legally erroneous understanding of the deference this Court must exhibit toward the internal decision-making activities that take place within the arbitration." (Court Doc. 46, Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Alter or Amend Mem. and Order Concerning Discovery 3.) For the reasons explained below, the Court disagrees.

Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order cited Spero, in a footnote, for the general proposition that "an arbitrator abuses his arbitral power by entering an award that goes beyond the terms of the agreement before him." (Mem. and Order Concerning Discovery 5 n.1.) While Michigan Family Resources replaces the test used in Spero to determine whether an arbitrator has exceeded his arbitral power, cf. Michigan Family Res., 475 F.3d at 752-53; Spero, 439 F.3d at 328, it does nothing to call into doubt the general proposition for which it is cited in Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Opinion. See Michigan Family Res., 475 F.3d at 753 (holding that an arbitrator commits reversible error by, inter alia, "act[ing] 'outside his authority' by resolving a dispute not committed to arbitration . . . [or by not] 'arguably construing or applying the contract . . . .' "). Accordingly, Defendant's argument that the footnote citation to Spero somehow taints the entirety of Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order fails to establish that the Order is "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

B. Rule 26(b)(2)(C)(i)

Defendant argues that the answers to Plaintiff's thirteen requests for admissions and three interrogatories "can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i). Specifically, Plaintiff's Requests for Admissions 1 through 6 seek to authenticate the 2005 to 2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement ("2005 CBA"). (See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Alter or Amend Mem. and Order Concerning Discovery 6-7.)

Defendant correctly points out that the 2005 CBA is part of a joint filing of the arbitration transcript entitled "Joint Stipulation," (see Court Docs. 18-1, Joint Stipulation; 18-4 and 18-5, 2005 CBA). However, nowhere in this filing do the parties stipulate to the authenticity of the 2005 CBA. (See id.) Accordingly, Defendant's argument that Plaintiff's attempts ...


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