Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
MOSS v. ENLARGED CITY SCHOOL DIST. OF AMSTERDAM
July 3, 2001
DONNA JEANNE MOSS, PLAINTIFF,
ENLARGED CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF AMSTERDAM, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lawrence E. Kahn, United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER
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
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.
"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
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.
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 ...
Buy This Entire Record For