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Northern District of Illinois Compels Defendants to Provide Better Answers to Interrogatories in Jacks v. DirectSAT USA, LLC

If an Illinois wage and hour attorney is representing you in an employment claim, chances are that at some point, he or she will submit a list of interrogatories to the opposing party. Interrogatories, or requests for further information, are a formal set of written questions that require a written answer. You will likely have to answer the other side’s interrogatories as well. Interrogatories help clarify facts and determine which facts will be presented at trial. Usually the number and type of interrogatories depend upon the state you live in: while the federal rules limit interrogatories to 25, Illinois Rule 213 allows up to 30. If you fail to answer interrogatories, you could find yourself in trouble with the court, no matter how strong your case is.

This was the situation in Jacks v. DirectSAT USA, LLC. The plaintiffs filed suit in federal court against the defendants for wage and hour violations related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL). Plaintiffs later asked the court to compel the defendant to respond — or in some cases, respond more thoroughly — to certain interrogatories. Judge Joan Gottschall of the Northern District of Illinois looked at each interrogatory to determine whether the defendant’s responses were sufficient.

One asked for identification of “all people with knowledge of the factual basis for Defendants’ answer and each of its affirmative defenses.” The defendants responded with a list of names, and argued that they did not need to provide those individuals’ addresses and corporate titles. The judge found that the defendants’ response was inadequate: just because the defendants provided some of the information elsewhere did not relieve them of the obligation to submit a complete written response. She also thought that the information was inadequate because it did not identify any supervisors, project managers or dispatch personnel who directly oversaw the plaintiffs.

For Interrogatories Nos. 14 through 22, the judge found that it was valid for the plaintiffs to have subparts to their questions and still have them count as one interrogatory, as long as the subparts were all part of a common theme. In this case, the plaintiffs’ subparts were all part of one larger question, so it was fine. However, the plaintiffs mistakenly ended up with 26 interrogatories rather than the required 25. Finally, the plaintiffs complained that the defendant did not identify whether it has produced documents to satisfy plaintiffs’ documents requests, and also that the defendant has not produced any emails. While the judge denied the plaintiffs’ motion to compel defendants to identify documents that are responsive to the plaintiffs’ requests, the judge granted their motion for compelling defendant to use emails intended for a different litigation to also be used here.

The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips. We have offices conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois. Contact a Waukegan wage and hour lawyer at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today at 312-869-4095.