The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD B. SURRICK, District Judge
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.
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.
"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
A. Requests for More Complete Answers to Interrogatories
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.