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Lindsay v. Pennsylvania State University

April 9, 2008

DR. BEVERLY LINDSAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McClure, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

ORDER

BACKGROUND:

On September 18, 2006, plaintiff Dr. Beverly Lindsay instituted this civil action against defendant, the Pennsylvania State University ("Penn State"). In her complaint, plaintiff alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Count I), the Americans with Disabilities Act (Count II), Title IV of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (Count III), hostile work environment (Count IV), and breach of contract (Count V).

The parties are now conducting discovery. On October 24, 2007, plaintiff filed a "Motion to Compel Medical Authorizations." (Rec. Doc. No. 29.) On December 10, 2007, we granted the motion in part and ordered plaintiff to authorize the release of all medical records that were relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to relevant evidence regarding her ADA claim.

On January 31, 2008, plaintiff filed a "Motion to Quash Defendnat's [sic] Subpoenas to Hampton University, University of Georgia, and Dr. Wayne Morris." (Rec. Doc. No. 69.) On February 10, 2008, plaintiff filed a "Motion for Contempt and Sanctions for Violation of Court Orders." (Rec. Doc. No. 70.) Finally, on February 15, 2008, plaintiff filed a "Motion for Declaratory Judgment Covering Contents of Subpoenas, Discovery Documents, Etc. Regarding Plaintiff's Medical Information and Information Pre-Dating the Parties' Prior Settlement Agreement." (Rec. Doc. No. 72.) All three motions are ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, we will deny all three motions. Furthermore, we will modify our December 10, 2007 order and order plaintiff to authorize the release of all of her medical records.

DISCUSSION:

I. Plaintiff's Motion to Quash

Plaintiff has been employed by defendant since 1996 and is currently a professor in the College of Education. (Compl., Rec. Doc. No. 1, ¶¶ 5, 16.) Plaintiff's complaint includes an allegation that defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate plaintiff's medical condition. (Id., ¶ 24.) Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant failed to provide plaintiff with a suitable chair and other specific office equipment and also failed to provide plaintiff with certain travel arrangements that would accommodate her medical condition. (Id. ¶¶ 24-36.) Furthermore, plaintiff has alleged that this failure to accommodate has resulted in a worsening of her medical condition. (Id. ¶ 38.)

OnJanuary 24, 2008, defendant served subpoenas on Dr. Wayne Morris, Hampton University, and the University of Georgia. (Rec. Doc. No. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff requested information regarding plaintiff's prior employment from the university and requested medical information from all three recipients. (Id.)Plaintiff alleges that these subpoenas were served in direct violation of the court's December 10, 2007 order because they requested all medical records, as opposed to medical records that are relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to relevant evidence regarding plaintiff's ADA claim. (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) Furthermore, plaintiff asserts that to the extent the subpoenas request information regarding plaintiff's prior employment at the two universities, this information is irrelevant due to the fact that the instant case deals with matters from 2003 forward. (Rec. Doc. No. 71, at 3-4.)

Defendant replies that plaintiff identified bi-lateral carpal tunnel syndrome, bi-lateral ulna syndrome, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and spinal curvature as her alleged disability on her EEOC questionnaire. (Rec. Doc. No. 75, at 5.) Furthermore, defendant states that plaintiff specifically listed Dr. Morris as a physician who treated her for her alleged disability in the mid-1990s and prescribed various travel accommodations as a result of these conditions. (Id.) Therefore, defendant argues that the relevance of these medical records is clear. (Id. at 9.) As to the subpoenas to the universities, defendant alleges that, although these subpoenas seek employment records from before 2003, these records may be relevant to defendant's potential defenses. (Id. at 13.)

Because we agree with defendant's contention that the materials sought by the subpoenas are relevant, or at least reasonably calculated to lead to relevant evidence, and because plaintiff has not filed a reply brief to address defendant's arguments, we will deny plaintiff's motion to quash. It appears clear that medical records from Dr. Morris are relevant to plaintiff's various conditions. Plaintiff does not argue that Dr. Morris treated plaintiff for medical issues unrelated to her medical claim. Therefore, this subpoena is proper. As to the subpoenas to the universities, we also believe they are proper in order to permit defendant to determine what accommodations, if any, she requested at these universities as well as any potential evidence that her alleged injuries may have already existed. See Sanchez v. U.S. Airways, Inc., 202 F.R.D. 131, 136 (E.D.Pa. 2001) (Green, J.) (concluding that defendant should be permitted to discover information indicating that the plaintiff's emotional distress came from factors other than defendant). Therefore, we will deny this motion.

II. Plaintiff's Motion for Contempt and Sanctions

On October 16, 2007, defendant issued subpoenas to University Orthopedics Center (UOC) and Dr. A. Jaime Alianiello, O.D. (Rec. Doc. No. 78, at 4-5.) Plaintiff did not move to quash these subpoenas. Rather, it appears that on November 1, 2007, plaintiff sent letters to Dr. Alianello and UOC instructing them not to release any information until plaintiff provided them with a release. (Rec. Doc. No. 70, ΒΆ 3.) It is disputed as to whether plaintiff sent a copy of these letters to defense counsel. (Rec. Doc. No. 78, at 5; Rec. Doc. No. 80, at 2.) UOC and Dr. Aliniello produced documents pursuant to defendant's request on October 31, 2007 and November 14, 2007, respectively. (Rec. Doc. No. 78, at 5.) It does not appear that defense counsel notified plaintiff that UOC and Dr. ...


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