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Andrews v. Bureau of Codes Administrative Office

March 2, 2010

DELAINE ANDREWS, PLAINTIFF
v.
BUREAU OF CODES ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Plaintiff Delaine Andrews' Amended Motion for Judgment for Defendants' Intentional Lack of Cooperation and Refusal to Comply with Court Order to Provide Discovery or Alternatively Motion to Compel Discovery Response. (Doc. 45.) In this motion, Plaintiff seeks sanctions against Defendants based on her belief that Defendants have not responded truthfully or in good faith to her requests for discovery. Defendants filed a response, (Doc. 51), and Plaintiff has filed her reply, (Doc. 62). The motion is now ripe for disposition. The court previously ruled on this motion in part, and deferred it in part, by memorandum and order dated February 19, 2010. (Doc. 64.) The court held a discovery hearing on March 1, 2010. This memorandum addresses the remaining issues.

I. Document Request # 21

In this request, Plaintiff seeks the inspection notes from property inspections for a list of properties provided as Exhibit A to her requests. Defendants presented the testimony of Arden Emerick, the assistant codes administrator for the City of Harrisburg. According to Mr. Emerick, the City has copies of these notes going back only about a year. Prior to that time, no notes were retained and the City did not have a retention policy; it was up to the individual inspectors to maintain their own files. Defendants will be ordered to produce any notes that they have for the list of properties in Plaintiff's Exhibit A. They are instructed to order their codes inspectors to check their files and turn over any notes that they may have for these properties.

II. Document Request # 22, 23, 24

Plaintiff's Document Requests Nos. 22, 23 and 24 read as follows:

22. Any and all documents or copies of summons issued against any defendant for violation of Property Maintenance Code Adoption Section 8-107 with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Codes Officer as the affiant between 2000 to present.

23. Any and all documents or copies of summons issued against any City of Harrisburg property owner for violation of City Ordinance # 20 of 2001 with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Codes Officer as the affiant between 2000 to Present in the City of Harrisburg.

24. Any and all documents were copies of summons issued against any city of Harrisburg property owner for violation of Property Maintenance Code Adoption Section 8-107 and/or the City Ordinance #20 of 2001 with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by Earl Diffenderfer Bureau of Codes Officer as the affiant between 2000 to present in the City of Harrisburg from 2000 to present. (Doc. 52, Defs.' Br. in Opp. at 4.)

Defendants have read these requests very narrowly. At the hearing, Defendants indicated that they did not take these requests to mean that they must turn over citations issued by the City. Instead, since only Magisterial District Judges issue summons, the City responded that they do not have to comply with this request. The court does not read this request so narrowly, and construes it to apply to citations issued by the City as well as summons.

At the hearing, and in a follow-up e-mail correspondence with both parties, the court learned that the City can retrieve citations issued if given a list of properties. Accordingly, Defendants are ordered to produce all citations that comply with Plaintiffs' requests 22 through 24 for the properties listed in Exhibit A to her requests. The court understands that Plaintiff requested copies of all citations issued for any Harrisburg property, but this request is too broad and unduly burdensome. Based on the argument presented at the hearing, the court believes that copies of citations for the properties listed in Plaintiff's Exhibit A are sufficient.

Counsel for Defendant raised the specter of personal information being divulged. Unless the filing is under seal, it is a matter of public record and the court will order its disclosure. At the same time, the court is mindful of Defendants' concerns, and will order Plaintiff not to disclose any of the information contained in the citations to anyone, and order that she not use the information for any purpose other than advancing this litigation. If Defendants believe that a more restrictive confidentiality order is appropriate they can file a motion with the court.

III. Document Request # 28

In Document Request 28, Plaintiff asked for "[c]opies of all Building/Fire/Zoning permit applications for all City of Harrisburg properties from 2000 to Present (including date approved)["]. (Doc. 52, Defs.' Br. in Opp. at 5.) Defendants objected to this request on the grounds that this information "is confidential in nature and may not be released by ...


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