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Cuppels v. Mountaire Corporation

Superior Court of Delaware

August 1, 2019

GARY and ANNA-MARIE CUPPELS individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
MOUNTAIRE CORPORATION, MOUNTAIRE FARMS INC., and MOUNTAIRE FARMS OF DELAWARE, INC., Defendants.

          Date Submitted: June 29, 2019

         Defendants' Exceptions to the Special Master's June 19, 2019 Decision.

         Adopts in Part and Rejects in Part the Special Master's Report.

         Grants in Part and Denies in Part the Defendants' Notice of Exceptions to the Special Master's Report.

          Chase T. Brockstedt, Esq., and Stephen A. Spence, Esq., Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

          Philip C. Federico, Esq., Schochor, Federico & Staton, Attorney for Plaintiffs.

          John C. Phillips, Jr., Esq., Robert S. Goldman, Esq., and Lisa C. McLaughlin, Esq., Phillips, Goldman, McLaughlin & Hall, Attorneys for Defendants.

          F. Michael Parkowski, Esq., Michael W. Teichman, Esq., and Elio Battista, Jr., Esq., Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze, P.A., Attorneys for Defendants

          OPINION

          STOKES, R. J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter between Plaintiffs Gary and Anna-Marie Cuppels and Defendants Mountaire Corp., Mountaire Farms, Inc., and Mountaire Farms of Delaware, Inc. arises due to the alleged illegal disposal of wastewater and sludge generated from the Defendants' chicken production and processing facilities in Delaware. Disagreement between the parties regarding the proper scope of discovery has brought progress in this case to a virtual standstill. In order to alleviate this roadblock the Court appointed a Special Master to assist the parties in ironing out the aforementioned issues.

         The Special Master issued a decision on several pending discovery motions via letter to the parties dated June 19, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the Court largely agrees with the Special Master's findings with the exception of the wording of a single discovery request. Therefore, the Court ADOPTS IN PART and REJECTS IN PART the Special Master's Report on the currently pending discovery motions. In turn, the Court DENIES IN PART and GRANTS IN PART Defendants' Exceptions to the Special Master's Report.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. The Discovery Disputes

         On June 13, 2018, Plaintiffs Gary and Anna-Marie Cuppels, in their individual capacity and on behalf of similarly-situated individuals (collectively, the "Plaintiffs") filed suit (the "Complaint") against Defendants Mountaire Corp. ("MC"), Mountaire Farms, Inc. ("MFI"), and Mountaire Farms of Delaware, Inc. ("MFODI," along with MC, and MFI, the "Defendants") related to the Defendants' purported operation of a large poultry production and processing plant in Millsboro, Delaware. The Defendants quickly moved to dismiss the Complaint. The Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on October ...


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