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