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Kimes v. University of Scranton

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 24, 2015

LISA KIMES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF SCRANTON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, Magistrate Judge.

This action was filed by Plaintiff Lisa Kimes, against her former employer, Defendant University of Scranton, alleging claims under Pennsylvania state law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1974, the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2615 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The parties have requested that the Court resolve a discovery dispute involving Defendant's intent to issue a subpoena to Plaintiff's current employer. (Doc. 28).

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The action was initiated by the filing of a complaint by Plaintiff Lisa Kimes on January 21, 2014. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that she was employed by the University of Scranton as a police officer for approximately five-and-a-half years. (Doc. 24). In December, 2011, she exercised her FMLA rights by taking leave for a period of three years to care for her son suffering from a serious medical condition. (Doc. 24). She alleges that throughout the duration of her leave, she was retaliated against and subject to severe animosity. (Doc. 24). She also claims she was given less favorable assignments and shifts than similarly situated male officers. (Doc. 24). Plaintiff contends that she was subsequently terminated for completely pretextual reasons. (Doc. 24). Defendant denies these allegations and submits that Plaintiff was terminated due to her substandard work performance. (Doc. 27).

The parties are currently engaged in discovery and have scheduled depositions for the week of March 9, 2015. Defendant has served Plaintiff with a Notice of Intent to Subpoena her current employer, Marywood University. Plaintiff objects to the issuance of this subpoena on the basis that the subpoena is overbroad and seeks irrelevant information intended to interfere with her current employment relationship. (Doc. 28). Specifically, Plaintiff argues that, to the extent Defendant is seeking information pertaining to mitigation and damages, Plaintiff has already submitted pay stubs, tax returns, an "offer letter, " and other documents evidencing her employment and earnings. (Doc. 28).

I. DISCUSSION

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The general scope of discovery is outlined by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1):

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

The court may order discovery of any matter "that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to the other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). However, Rule 26(b)(2)(C) requires the court to limit the extent of discovery that would otherwise be permitted by the rules of civil procedure or by local rule if it determines that:

i. the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
ii. the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or
iii. the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues."

Further, "the Court has a responsibility to protect privacy and confidentiality interests" and "has authority to fashion a set of limitations that allow as much relevant material to be discovered as possible... while preventing unnecessary intrusions into legitimate interests that may be harmed by the discovery of material sought." E.E.O.C. v. Princeton Healthcare Sys ., No. CIV.A. 10-4126 PGS, 2012 WL 1623870, at *18 (D.N.J. May 9, 2012)(quoting ...


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