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July 3, 2001


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lawrence E. Kahn, United States District Judge


Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's objections to, and appeals of, decisions and orders of United States Magistrate Judge Ralph W. Smith dated December 20, 2000 (Docket No. 329), April 3, 2001 (Docket No. 339), April 19, 2001 (Docket No. 364), and April 24, 2001 (Docket No. 367), Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 343) and a cross-motion for sanctions by the defendants from the Greater Amsterdam School District (Docket No. 383). The Court will address these matters seriatim.
I. Analysis
A. Discovery Orders

The standard to be used by a district court in reviewing a magistrate judge's determination of a non-dispositive issue is the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard, while dispositive matters are reviewed "de novo." See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72; 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Thomas E. Hoar, Inc. v. Sara Lee Corp., 900 F.2d 522, 525 (2d Cir. 1990); Tompkins v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 92 F. Supp.2d 70, 74 (N.D.N.Y. 2000); Hasbrouck v. America Hous. Servs., Inc., 190 F.R.D. 42, 44 (N.D.N.Y. 1999).

Pretrial discovery matters are generally considered non-dispositive and are therefore subject to the clearly erroneous or contrary to law standard. See Thomas E. Hoar, 900 F.2d at 525; Hasbrouck, 190 F.R.D. at 44 (citing Doe v. Marsh, 899 F. Supp. 933, 934 (N.D.N.Y. 1995)). Moreover, magistrate judges are given broad discretion with respect to pre-trial discovery issues and "reversal is warranted only when that discretion is abused." Tompkins, 92 F. Supp.2d at 74 (citing Abrams v. General Elec. Co., No. 95-CV-1734, 1997 WL 458446, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Aug. 4, 1997).
"A magistrate judge's finding is clearly erroneous when it is against the clear weight of the evidence or when the court has `the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'" White Mop Wringer Co. of Canada Ltd. v. BT Capital Partners, Inc., No. 95-CV-565, 1997 WL 222380, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. April 29, 1997) (quoting United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)); see also Tompkins, 92 F. Supp.2d at 74. Moreover, that "reasonable minds may differ on the wisdom of granting [a party's] motion" does not mean that the decision is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Pemrick v. Stracher, No. 9-CV-849, 1992 WL 697636, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. March 27, 1992).
1. December 20, 2000 Order
Pursuant to a previous order issued by Judge Smith, Plaintiff is precluded from serving any further interrogatories or document demands upon Defendants. After being denied, on several occasions, permission to file additional discovery requests, Plaintiff sought leave of the Court to serve defendant Cotugno with in excess of 500 requests for admission. The decision whether to allow such discovery under these circumstances is well within Magistrate Judge Smith's broad discretion. Judge Smith's decision to deny Plaintiff's request based on his determination that the requests for admission were thinly veiled interrogatories designed to avoid the effect of his previous orders was not an abuse of that discretion.
2. April 3, 2001 Decision
During the April 3, 2001 deposition of Dr. Nellie Bush, a non-party witness, United States Magistrate Judge David R. Homer was called upon by the parties to decide whether Plaintiff should have been precluded from seeking information or testimony concerning certain events that occurred after the termination of her employment. Again, the decision whether to allow these questions is well within the broad discretion of the magistrate judge. Upon a review of the record, the Court finds that Judge Homer did not abuse that discretion in these circumstances in determining that the information sought by Plaintiff was not relevant.
3. April 19, 2001 Order
By an order of April 5, 2000, Magistrate Judge Smith ordered defendant Cotugno to respond to outstanding interrogatories no later than May 12, 2000. Mr. Cotugno's former attorneys served the ordered responses in a timely manner on May 10, 2000. However, Plaintiff maintained that the answers were incomplete and evasive and, on July 31, 2000, demanded a supplemental response from defendant Cotugno's present counsel, who took over the case in July 2000.

Following additional correspondence between the parties, a supplemental response to the interrogatories was ...

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