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JONES v. HOSPITAL OF UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

May 24, 2004.

CAROL JONES
v.
HOSPITAL OF UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents (Doc. No. 11). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. FACTS

  Plaintiff, Carol Jones, began employment with Defendant, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, as a patient care supervisor on July 30, 2001. From April 1, 2002, until October 1, 2002, Plaintiff was on maternity leave. On October 8, 2002, Plaintiff was terminated for allegedly sleeping during suicide watch. On March 28, 2003, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC dismissed Plaintiff's charge on August 1, 2003. (Jt. Case Rep. at 1.)

  As originally filed, Plaintiff's Complaint alleged violations of Title VII and the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").*fn1 Plaintiff claims that Defendant's proffered reason for terminating Plaintiff, sleeping while on suicide watch, was a pretext for Defendant's pregnancy discrimination.

  Defendant claims that it has a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions. Defendant contends that following Plaintiff's six-month leave, she was restored to her previous position. (Jt. Case Report at 2.) Defendants maintain that Plaintiff was terminated for performance reasons; specifically, for sleeping during suicide watch.

  On March 5, 2004, Plaintiff submitted written discovery requests to Defendant. On April 5, 2004, Defendant submitted objections and responses to Plaintiff's requests. On April 19, 2004, Plaintiff's counsel wrote to Defendant's counsel, indicating that interrogatories 2, 6, 7, and 14 were incomplete, and requesting responses. At that time, Plaintiff also requested personnel files for all similarly situated employees.

 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. Requests for More Complete Answers to Interrogatories

 Interrogatory #2

  Plaintiff requested the following:
Identify each person similarly situated to plaintiff who[m] Defendant employed between July 2001 and October 2001,*fn2 and for each: (a) state whether the person is male or female, (b) state the date(s) each person began their employment for Defendant, (c) state whether the person has taken any form of leave of absence from work, and if so, (i) describe the leave taken, (ii) state whether the person returned to work, and (ii) state whether the person was terminated after returning to work.
...

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