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City of Allentown v. Denis v. Brenan

July 25, 2012

CITY OF ALLENTOWN, APPELLANT
v.
DENIS V. BRENAN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Patricia A. McCULLOUGH, Judge

Submitted: January 6, 2012

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge*fn1

HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge

OPINION BY JUDGE McCULLOUGH

The City of Allentown (City) appeals from the June 24, 2011 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County (trial court) affirming the final determination of the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) that the October 25, 2010 order of United States Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hey in a related federal case did not preclude disclosure of the records requested by Denis Brenan (Requester).*fn2 We affirm.

On June 4, 2008, Kathleen Kuhns, Joyce Mazalewski and Kathleen Teay (Plaintiffs) commenced a federal civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the City, the City's Chief of Police, Roger MacLean, the Allentown Women's Center, Inc. (Women's Center), and Jennifer Boulanger, executive director of the Women's Center (collectively Defendants) alleging that Defendants conspired to violate Plaintiffs' constitutional and statutory rights to communicate their religious and political anti-abortion messages to patients of the Women's Center.*fn3 (Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 36a, 65a.)

The parties engaged in extensive discovery, with Plaintiffs making numerous allegations that Defendants did not provide complete responses or produce certain requested documents. (R.R. at 11a-15a.) By order dated February 4, 2010, Judge Hey set a deadline of March 25, 2010, to complete discovery in the matter. (R.R. at 3a.) Nevertheless, the parties continued to engage in discovery beyond this deadline. (R.R. at 16a-26a, 55a.) On October 13, 2010, Requester, on behalf of Plaintiffs, filed an informal discovery motion with Judge Hey seeking an order compelling Defendants to provide additional discovery in the nature of incident reports and meeting notes after March 25, 2010, as well as the imposition of sanctions against Defendants for their "discovery defaults and deficiencies." (R.R. at 9a-10a.)

By memorandum and order dated October 25, 2010, Judge Hey denied this motion. (R.R. at 35a-43a.) Judge Hey referenced the March 25, 2010 discovery deadline and concluded the Defendants had no obligation to provide discovery beyond this date. Id. Judge Hey also referenced Rule 26(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but noted that this Rule only requires a party to supplement a discovery disclosure if the party learns that the disclosure or response was incomplete or incorrect. Id. Judge Hey rejected Plaintiffs' argument that Defendants' responses were incomplete and that Defendants were obligated to provide additional discovery because Plaintiffs had alleged ongoing misconduct, rather than a discrete past act. Id.

Shortly thereafter, on November 15, 2010, Requester filed a request with the City pursuant to the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL)*fn4 , seeking the following records:

1. All records, including electronic records and e-mails, by and between various personnel of the City of Allentown pertaining to:

(a) the conduct of [Plaintiffs] on Keats Street, at or near Allentown Women's Center, during the period of June 1, 2010 to the present;

(b) the conduct of officers of the Allentown Police Department at or near the Allentown Women's Center from June 1, 2010 to the present;

(c) the conduct of personnel of the Allentown Women's Center from June 1, 2010 to the present;

2. Records provided to the City of Allentown or any of its personnel by the Allentown Women's Center and its directors or employees from ...


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