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WATERS v. GENESIS HEALTH VENTURES

April 22, 2004.

JILL WATERS
v.
GENESIS HEALTH VENTURES, INC



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD B. SURRICK, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion to Overrule Defendant's Objections to her Fourth Request for Production of Documents, (Doc. No. 22), and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Attendance at Oral Deposition, (Doc. No. 24). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Fourth Request for Production of Documents will be granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel will be granted.

I. FACTS

  Plaintiff, Jill Waters, is a fifty-nine year old, Caucasian female, who was employed by Defendant, Genesis Health Ventures's nursing facility, Crestview North, Inc. ("Crestview"), for ten years, until she was terminated on September 23, 2002. (Jt. Case Report at 2, 5.) During five of her ten years at Crestview, Plaintiff was employed as Director of Staff Development. In June 2002, Defendant hired Marvin Kirkland, a fifty-seven year old, African American male, as Director of Nursing. (First Am. Civil Act. Compl. at ¶ 13; Doc. No. 27.) Plaintiff's position came under Kirkland's supervision. The factors motivating Plaintiffs termination are in dispute. Defendant claims Plaintiff was dismissed for performance related reasons, while Plaintiff alleges her termination was due to Kirkland's discriminatory animus.

  As originally filed, Plaintiff's Complaint alleged violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"). Plaintiff's original Complaint also alleged age discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. This count was subsequently amended to allege discrimination based on disability, rather than age. (First Am. Civil Action Compl. at ¶¶ 42-45; Doc. No. 27.) Plaintiff's amendments also included the addition of a fifth count, for race discrimination under § 1981a. (Id. at ¶¶ 48-59.)

 II. LEGAL STANDARD

  "It is well-established that the scope and conduct of discovery are within the sound discretion of the trial court." Gaul v. Zep Mfg. Co., Civ.A. No. 03-2439, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1990, at *2-3 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 5, 2004) (quoting Marroquin-Manriquez v. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983)). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), a party may seek discovery of "any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter in the pending action." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). "The information sought need not be admissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id.

  Rule 37 "authorizes a party who has received evasive or incomplete answers to discovery authorized by . . . Rule 26(a) to bring a motion to compel disclosure of the materials sought." Northern v. City of Phila., Civ.A. No. 98-6517, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4278, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 4, 2000). Once a party opposes a discovery request, the party seeking the discovery must demonstrate the relevancy of the information sought. Id. at *5. "When this showing of relevancy is made, the burden then shifts back to the party opposing discovery to show why the discovery should not be permitted." Id. A party's statement "that the discovery sought is overly broad, burdensome, oppressive, vague or irrelevant is `not adequate to voice a successful objection.'" Id. (quoting Josephs v. Harris Corp., 677 F.2d 985, 992 (3d Cir. 1982)). Further, "[i]t is well recognized that the federal rules allow broad and liberal discovery", Pacitti v. Macy's, 193 F.3d 766, 777 (3d Cir. 1999), and relevancy is broadly construed, Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978) ("The court should and ordinarily does interpret `relevant' very broadly to mean matter that is relevant to anything that is or may become an issue in the litigation.").

 III. DISCUSSION

  A. Production of Documents

  On or about February 16, 2004, Plaintiff made five requests for documents from Defendant.*fn1 The requests related to Plaintiff's claim of racial discrimination. On March 18, 2004, Defendant objected to all five requests, primarily on the grounds that the requests were "overly broad and unduly burdensome and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." (Def.'s Answers and Objections to Pl's Fourth Req. for Prod. of Docs. at 1.)*fn2

 Document Request Numbers One and Four

  We note from the outset that Request Number One is duplicative of Request Number Four, in that they seek the same information. Request Number One seeks documents that in any way reference those employees whom "Kirkland hired and discharged during his tenure with Defendants." (Id.) In Document Request Number Four, Plaintiff seeks documents that in any way reference "the racial, ethnic or ancestral background of any and all employees that were hired and terminated by Marvin Kirkland." (Id. at 2.) However, Plaintiff also makes clear that she is not interested in the identity of those individuals. (Proposed Order attached to Pl's Mot. to Overrule Def.'s Objections to her Fourth Req. for Prod. of Docs. at unnumbered 2 ("Personal and identifying information such as employee names, addresses, and social security numbers may be redacted. . . .").) That being true, it is unclear how Requests One and Four differ, as they appear to be seeking the same information — the race and/or ethnicity of those employees whom Kirkland hired and terminated. Accordingly, we will dismiss Request Number One, and address Request Number Four.

  In Defendant's Memorandum in Opposition to the Document Requests, Defendant draws a distinction between Plaintiff and some of the other employees who have been hired and/or terminated by Kirkland. Defendant states: "[I]nformation concerning hiring of certified nurses aides and nurse assistants who had no certification . . . is immaterial and irrelevant to this matter" because Plaintiff was not in a comparable hiring category. We disagree. While it is undisputed 2that Plaintiff was in a hiring category apart from the Certified Nurse's Assistants ("CNAs"), a group for which there is statistical information available, this distinction does not foreclose the possibility that Plaintiffs use of the requested information could lead to admissible evidence as this case ...


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