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N.D.Ohio: Plaintiff Not Entitled To Social Security Numbers Of Putative Class Members Who Did Not Receive Initial 216(b) Notice

Jackson v. Papa John’s USA, Inc.

Plaintiff Jackson moved the Court to compel Defendants to produce the social security numbers of absent members of this conditionally-certified collective action to facilitate notice to previously unreachable individuals. Defendants objected to the production of the social security numbers because of privacy concerns for those absent members. In resolving this motion, this Court balanced the benefits of additional notice, see Hofmann-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 170-171 (1989), against the “highly personal and confidential nature of social security numbers and the harm that can flow from disclosure,”
Gieseke v. First Horizon Home Loan Corp., No. 04-2511-CM-GLR, 2007 WL 445202 (D.Kan. Feb. 7, 2007).

Rejecting the balancing test annunciated by the Court in Gieseke, as too lenient, the Court instead adopted the balancing test from Hofmann-La Roche Inc. stating, “In light of Hoffman-La Roche, and the privacy concerns identified above, this Court will examine several factors to decide whether to compel Defendants to produce the social security numbers: (1) the interest of opt-in members’ in cost reductions to be achieved by additional notice; (2) the interest of the judicial system in dealing with the common questions of fact and law in a single action; (3) the interest of this Court and the current parties in avoiding undue delays; (4) the interest of previously unreachable class members in having the opportunity to participate in this litigation and reduce costs; and (5) the interests of previously unreachable class members in having their social security numbers kept private.”

After weighing these various interests, the Court held that the costs associated with compelled production of absent class members’ social security numbers outweighed the benefits and denied Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel.