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Date: 07-10-2023

Case Style:

Tony Bencina v. AFL Maintenance Group

Case Number: 1:21-cv-00017

Judge: Jill N. Parrish

Court: United States District Court for the District of Utah (Salt Laek County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Brian D. Tuttle, Ethan D. Thomas, Rick D. Roskelley

Description: Salt Lake City, Utah civil litigation lawyer represented plaintiff who sued Defendant on a breach of contract theory.

This case was filed in the 2nd District, Davis County, 210700026 and was removed to federal courts by the Defendant.

Mr. Bencina contends that AFL allegedly owes him bonus payments stemming from his employment with AFL.[4] Mr. Bencina asserts that AFL's tax records can be used to calculate the bonus payments to which Mr. Bencina may be entitled because “the bonus calculation is directly related to the company's administrative expenses and overall income performance.”[5]The parties' dispute over AFL's nondisclosure of its 2013-2020 tax records has now spanned eight months and involved two motions to compel.[6]

In Mr. Bencina's Second Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents, Mr. Bencina requested that AFL indicate how much it “declared as administrative expenses in its tax returns for each year since 2013.”[7] AFL responded to this request by producing the company-wide Profit and Loss (“P&L”) statements for 2015-2020, which contained Mr. Bencina's individual project expenses, as well as company-wide administrative expenses.[8]

In a September 21, 2022 email, Mr. Bencina communicated to AFL that “[g]iven that Mr. Natividad [i.e., AFL's Chief Executive Officer] testified that the P&Ls he produced were for official tax purposes, [Mr. Bencina] would still need the actual tax filings and what was declared in taxes for each year.”[9] AFL responded by email on October 28, 2022, maintaining that “AFL has already fully and properly responded to Mr. Bencina's requests for production of . . . documents showing the administrative expenses declared for each tax year since 2013” by producing the P&L statements.[10]

On October 31, 2022, Mr. Bencina filed the instant motion to compel AFL to produce its tax records from 2013-2020.[11]Mr. Bencina's motion asserts that AFL's tax records are relevant to determining the actual amount AFL declared as expenses to reconcile alleged discrepancies between the administrative expenses in the P&L statements Mr. Bencina possessed before discovery and those AFL produced in discovery.[12]

In response, AFL argues that, if it produced the tax records, Mr. Bencina would be unable to distinguish between Mr. Bencina's individual projects and AFL's other projects because the tax forms reflect only administrative expenses for the whole company.[13]Additionally, AFL argues that the confidential nature of tax returns requires a heightened standard of protection that Mr. Bencina cannot overcome.

For the reasons state below, the court grants Mr. Bencina's motion, albeit on slightly different grounds than those raised in the parties' meet and confer discussions. Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, AFL's tax records are relevant to Mr. Bencina's claim that AFL breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing as to Mr. Bencina's profit-share bonus pay[14] and proportional to the needs of the case. Moreover, the court finds that DUCivR 26-2's Standard Protective Order
(“SPO”), which automatically applies in every civil case in the District of Utah, sufficiently protects AFL's privacy interests regarding the tax records. Accordingly, Mr. Bencina's motion is granted, and AFL is ordered to produce its 2013-2020 tax records.

Outcome: 07/10/2023 73 ORDER granting 72 Stipulated Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice, each party bearing its own fees and costs. Case Closed. Magistrate Judge Jared C. Bennett no longer assigned to case. Signed by Judge Jill N. Parrish on 7/10/23. (dle) (Entered: 07/10/2023)

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