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WILLIAMS v. HERNANDEZ

May 24, 2004.

CARMAN Y. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, -against- FLORENTINO HERNANDEZ, as Chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, et al., Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD ELLIS, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Carman Y. Williams has submitted to the Court a motion to compel responses to various discovery requests from defendant Frederick H.A. Assanah ("Assanah") and an application for the Court to enter a confidentiality order to shield from disclosure documents in her New York City Housing Authority ("Housing Authority") tenant file. Defendants Assanah and the Housing Authority have objected to the proposed discovery and confidentiality order. Williams's complaint includes causes of action for sex discrimination and harassment, negligent hiring and retention, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery, under various federal, state, and local laws. For the reasons that follow, Williams's motion to compel is GRANTED, IN PART and DENIED, IN PART, and the parties are directed to enter into a confidentiality order with respect to her tenant file.

I. DISCUSSION

 A. Motion to Compel

  Williams seeks to compel defendant Assanah to respond to certain of her discovery requests, including requests for production of documents, interrogatories, and requests for admission. See Plaintiffs Motion to Compel ("Pl. Mot."); Supplemental Affirmation ("Pl. Suppl. Aff."). Though Williams provided Assanah's objections as appendices to her motion to compel, the Court subsequently asked Assanah to file a response to insure that there were no additional issues. Assanah, through a declaration by his attorney in opposition to the motion, confirms either that he has asserted proper objections or that he has sufficiently responded. Declaration of Donovan L. Wickline in Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel ("Wickline Decl.") at 2. Williams subsequently filed a motion to strike Assanah's response as untimely. Plaintiff's Affirmation Seeking an Order to Strike Defendant Assanah's Response. Because Assanah's response was requested by the Court and provided no substantive changes in position, it does not alter the Court's analysis of Williams's motion to compel. As a result, Williams's motion to strike this response is DENIED.

  1. Request for Documents

  Williams states that Assanah has improperly responded or objected to the following requests for documents:
7. Copies of any and all electronic mail, including attachments, correspondence either from or to Defendant Assanah from August 2001 through January 2002 . . .
13. Records regarding your previous employer, record of disciplinary actions, reason(s) for separation from employment.
14. Records regarding any sexual harassment complaints ever filed against you in connection with any previous employment.
PL Mot. at 3; Exh. L (Plaintiffs Request for Production of Documents Addressed to Defendant Frederick Assanah-First Set) at 4-5. Williams claims that Assanah's responses are insufficient, and that his objections are either without merit or made in bad faith. PL Mot. at 3-4. Assanah asserts that request 7 is overly broad, fails to state with reasonable particularity the information that is being requested, and is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Wickline Decl. at 2; Exh. A at 4. He asserts that requests 13 and 14 are irrelevant, not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, overly broad and burdensome, vague, and in the possession of other entities. Wickline Decl. at 2-3; Exh. A at 5. In any case, he maintains that he does not have the records requested in 13 and 14 in his possession, custody, or control. Wickline Decl. at 2-3.

  The Court agrees that request 7 is overly broad and burdensome. Williams has failed to justify a wholesale production of e-mails. She has also failed to indicate why there would be relevant information concerning her claims in such e-mails. The Court need not reach Assanah's arguments with respect to requests 13 and 14 because there is nothing to compel. Assanah, through a declaration made under penalty of perjury by his attorney, has submitted that he has no responsive documents in his custody or control, and Williams presents no evidence to question this position.

  Williams's motion to compel production of documents is therefore DENIED.

  2. Interrogatories

  Williams asserts that many of Assanah's responses and objections to her interrogatories are frivolous and made in bad faith. PL Suppl. Aff. at 1. As examples, Williams points to two such interrogatories:
9. State whether you discussed with the Plaintiff during the relevant time frame, your immediate supervisor, Mike Mastriano.
10. State whether you engaged in extramarital relationships with other women during your employment with the New York City Housing Authority.
Id. at 1-2; Exh. P (Plaintiffs Interrogatories Addressed to Defendant-First Set) at 8. Williams notes that interrogatory 10 typifies information that she is seeking regarding Assanah's past conduct, and lists in a footnote other interrogatories that she believes are similar in nature:
11. State whether any of the women were Housing Authority tenants.
12. State the names and addresses of the Housing Authority tenants, if any.
22. State the reason or reasons for your transfer by the Housing Authority from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
23. State the name of the individual responsible for initiating the transfer, and when the transfer occurred.
24. State whether any complaints alleging harassment were filed against you during your tenure with NYCHA in Brooklyn.
26. Whether you have ever engaged in any violence or threatened violence against any former sexual partners, including but not limited to, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, etc.
27. Names and addresses of any such partners, home and work.
  PL Suppl. Aff. at 1-2 & n.1; Exh. P at 8-9. Williams asserts that interrogatory 9 seeks information relevant to her claim. PL Suppl. at 2. Although Assanah argues that the question is irrelevant and vague, he does respond that he asked Williams if she had spoken to Mastriano about their relationship. Wickline Decl. at 4; Exh. C at 6. Williams argues that interrogatories 10-12, 22-24, and 26-27 are relevant because they are intended to elicit evidence related to past instances of Assanah's conduct allegedly similar to that at issue in the present case. See PL Suppl. Aff. at 1-2 & n.1. Assanah objects to each of these interrogatories, but adds in response to number 24 that the "Defendant is unaware of any complaints filed against him in connection with his employment with the New York City Housing Authority, other than the complaints filed by the Plaintiff in this action." Wickline Decl. at 3-4; Exh. C at 3, 9.

  For interrogatory 9, the Court finds that Assanah's answer is sufficient since it is directly responsive to Williams's question. For interrogatories 10-12 and 26-27, Williams provides no information that she has a good-faith basis for such inquiries. Moreover, her purported use of the information to show character would be inadmissible. See FED. R. EVID. 404. Finally, for interrogatories 22 and 23, Williams has not established the relevance of a line of inquiry regarding any transfer of Assanah from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

  Williams's motion to compel interrogatories is ...


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