United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
DR. SUSAN M. KEGERISE, Plaintiff
SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al. Defendants
William W. Caldwell United States District Judge.
is Dr. Susan M. Kegerise, the former superintendent of the
Susquehanna Township School District. The defendants are the
School District and three current or former members of the
District's School Board, Carol L. Karl, Jesse Rawls, Sr.,
and Mark Y. Sussman. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit seeking
redress after the Board discharged her as
superintendent. Various claims have been made arising from
the circumstances of her discharge.
School District has filed a motion to extend discovery and to
serve subpoenas on Abom & Kutulakis, the law firm that
formerly represented Plaintiff in this matter, and Paul
Blunt, Esq., a former counsel for the School District.
impetus for the motion was Plaintiff's production of
documents resulting from an order of May 17, 2016, intended
to resolve certain discovery concerns both parties had. In
regard to Plaintiff, the order required her to "provide
Defendants with assurances that she has produced all
documents in her possession that were subject to
Defendants' discovery requests and produce any remaining
documents, if such exist." (Doc. 107).
of the document production, Plaintiff produced certain
e-mails. For the purpose of the current motion, Defendants
have separated the e-mails into two groups. One group,
exemplified in Exhibit A to Defendant's motion, consists
of e-mails sent by a former member of the School Board to her
private counsel, who forwarded the e-mails to Plaintiff's
then counsel, the late Jason Kutulakis. A second group,
exemplified in Exhibit B to the motion, consists of e-mails
sent by the same former Board member to Attorney Blunt. The
e-mails were sent at various times while Plaintiff was
represented by Kutulakis and her current counsel. According
to Defendants, some of the forwarded e-mails, exemplified in
Exhibit C to the motion, "contain confidential
communications" from School District attorneys to the
Board. (Doc. 109, Defs.' Motion ¶ 13). Other
e-mails, exemplified in Exhibit D to the motion, contain
Board members' "opinions and strategy regarding the
litigation between Plaintiff and" the School District.
(Id. ¶ 14). The exhibits have been submitted to
the court for in camera review.
deposition, taken after the close of discovery, Plaintiff
could not explain why the e-mails had been forwarded to her
counsel and said she had not previously seen some of the
e-mails. (Id. ¶¶ 20 and 21).
believe that the emails . . . show that sensitive and/or
confidential information has been passing improperly
between" the former Board member, "that Board
Member's counsel, " Kutulakis, Blunt, and Plaintiffs
current counsel. (W.¶25).
School District asserts that the information sought is
relevant because the District and defense counsel "must
be afforded an opportunity to understand whether any
privileges may have been waived and the extent of any waiver
and whether former Board counsel [Blunt] is improperly
providing Plaintiff and/or her counsel with information
adverse to his former client, all of which may have now or in
the future prejudice the Defendants' ability to mount a
defense." (Id. ¶ 26). Defendant maintains
Blunt has a conflict of interest because he represented the
School District in the negotiation of Plaintiff's
employment agreement and in defense of a federal lawsuit
brought against the School District by Rawls and Sussman, and
the contract and lawsuit "are at issue in various counts
of the instant matter." (Id. ¶¶ 9 and
School District therefore requests an opportunity "to
seek additional discovery regarding the forwarded emails and
how they came into the possession of Plaintiff and her
counsel." (Id. ¶ 22). Defendant also seeks
permission to serve subpoenas on Abom & Kutulakis and
Attorney Blunt. The subpoenas would seek the following
Complete copies of all emails, text messages, notes,
correspondence, photographs, videos, or other documents not
privileged both sent or received by any and all employees,
attorneys, and/or agents of Abom & Kutulakis, L.L.P., to
or from Dr. Peter J. Sakol, Kathy L. DelGrande, Dr. Kathy L.
Taschner, Dr. Kimberly R. Donahue, Bruce J. Warshawsky, Esq.,
Paul Blunt, Esq., any and all current or former employees of
the Susquehanna Township School District (hereinafter
"STSD"), members of the STSD School Board, and any
and all representatives of the person(s) above regarding Dr.
Susan Kegerise, STSD, and any litigation in which Dr. Susan
M. Kegerise was or is involved from the dates of January 1,
2012 through present.
(Doc. 109-1, ECFp. 2).
opposes the motion. She asserts that to avoid "further
meritless claims by Defendants, " she produced every
document that "could possibly be responsive to
Defendant's discovery requests, " and except for a
"few documents, " all of them had already been
produced by Plaintiff or by Defendants to Plaintiff. (Doc.
113, PL's Response ¶¶ 3 and 4).
part, she also argues that there could be no waiver of any
privilege here because an individual Board member cannot
waive a privilege for the entire Board. In any event,
Plaintiff is willing to stipulate that no waiver of privilege
occurred here, and Defendant's interests can therefore be
protected by an order prohibiting Plaintiff from using the
privileged information and prohibiting the former Board
member from providing additional privileged information.
(Id., ¶¶ 17 and 18). Also, further
discovery is not necessary here as Defendant is already in a
position to determine if there has been a waiver and the
extent of any waiver because "Plaintiff has already
produced everything in Plaintiff's possession, including
those acquired from Abom and Kutulakis LLC and Paul
Blunt." (Doc. 113, PL's Response ¶ 20).
Finally, Plaintiff asserts none of the e-mails reveals
information prejudicial to Defendants.
reply, the School District in part argues as follows. It
contends that Plaintiffs arguments concerning confidentiality
and privilege miss the mark, that the real issue is that
Defendants should be able "to explore the existence of
relevant information, who possesses that information and have
the ability to obtain and analyze such information."
(Doc. 144, Defs.' Reply Br. at p. 8). It also contends
that the information sought is relevant as "discovery
requests may be deemed relevant if there is any possibility
that the information may be relevant to the general subject
matter of the action." CedarCrestone Inc. v.
Affiliated Computer Services LLC, No. 14-MC-0298, 2014
WL 3055355 at *4 (M.D. Pa. July 3, 2014)(quoted case
omitted). Here, Defendant asserts that the e-mails show that
information has been exchanged between ...