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R.D. v. Shohola Camp Ground And Resort

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 1, 2017

R.D., Plaintiff

          Munley Judge


          MARTIN C. CARLSON United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Factual Background

         This case involves allegations of battery, negligence and negligent hiring and supervision in connection with an episode of alleged sexual abuse which occurred when the then-minor plaintiff, R.D., was participating in a camping excursion conducted by the defendant. In the course of this excursion it is alleged that another camper, identified as N.S., sexually assaulted the plaintiff, and may have had inappropriate sexual contact with two other minors who shared a tent with the plaintiff and N.S. during this excursion. These two other minors are identified in these proceedings as G.M. and E.J.

         On March 7, 2017, this matter was referred to the undersigned for pretrial management and resolution of discovery disputes. Since that time we have addressed, and are in the process of addressing, numerous discovery disputes between these parties. As part of this process we convened a conference of counsel on April 27, 2017, in order to address an array of pending discovery issues. In the wake of that conference, this omnibus discovery memorandum order follows.

         II. Discussion

         A. Scheduling

         As a threshold matter during this conference the parties discussed scheduling issues with the court. Noting that the current discovery schedule expires by June 1, 2017, the plaintiff voiced the view that a brief discovery extension may be necessary, a request that the defendant opposed. While we recognize that some extension may ultimately be necessary given the fractious nature of discovery to date, we believe in the first instance the parties should work together to prepare a comprehensive discovery plan to provide for the orderly completion of discovery and, if necessary, a mutually agreeable discovery extension schedule. Therefore, IT IS ORDERED that the parties shall consult and confer with an eye towards developing a comprehensive discovery schedule and report to the court on the status of these efforts on or before May 12, 2017. If the parties are unable to resolve these scheduling issues by May 12, they shall notify the court and we will prescribe a schedule for the parties.

         B. E-Mails

         A second issue dividing the parties and discussed at this conference related to what are alleged to have been recent e-mail communications between the defendants and potential witnesses in this litigation. This issue has been discussed by counsel in letter briefs submitted to the court, (Docs. 84 and 95), and arose in the context of the deposition of one witness, GM, who reported such contacts. This report, in turn, led the plaintiff to pursue all e-mails between the defendant, and GM, as well as all e-mail contact between the defendant and any other potential witnesses. As originally framed this discovery request was broad in its temporal scope, encompassing years of potential e-mails. The defendant has responded to this request by asserting that it has produced all pertinent e-mails with GM, and by alleging that any other e-mails to other potential witnesses reflect attorney work product as they sought information in anticipation of litigation.

         Following our April, 27, 2017 conference, IT IS ORDERED as follows: (1) the temporal scope of any e-mail review is limited to the most pertinent time period, January 2016 to the present. (2) With respect to e-mails between the defendant and GM any undisclosed e-mails shall be provided to the court for its in camera review on or before May 12, 2017. (3) As for e-mails between the defendant and any other potential witnesses from January 2016 to the present, as to which the defendant is asserting a claim of work product privilege, on or before May 12, 2017, the defendant shall produce a privilege log identifying and describing these communications. The use of a privilege log as a tool in resolving disputes regarding claims of privilege is expressly sanctioned by Rule 26(b)(5)(A), which provides that:

(A) Information Withheld. When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by claiming that the information is privileged or subject to protection as trial-preparation material, the party must:
(i) expressly make the claim; and
(ii) describe the nature of the documents, communications, or tangible things not produced or disclosed--and do so in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or ...

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