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Crawford-Bey v. New York and Presbyterian Hospital

July 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kevin Nathaniel Fox United States Magistrate Judge



The plaintiff, Vera Crawford-Bey ("Crawford-Bey"), proceeding pro se, brought the above-captioned action against The New York and Presbyterian Hospital (the "defendant" or "New York Presbyterian"), pursuant to: (a) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; (b) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 631-34; (c) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-17; (d) the New York State Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law §§ 290-97; and (e) the New York City Human Rights Law, New York City Administrative Code §§ 8-101-31. Crawford-Bey alleges that, based on her age, race and disability, the defendant subjected her to employment discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment.

The defendant made a motion, pursuant to prior orders of the Court, and Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b) and (d), seeking, alternatively, an order: (i) dismissing the complaint; (ii) precluding the plaintiff from offering testimony or evidence, at trial, in support of her claims, because Crawford-Bey failed to comply with orders issued previously by the Court; (iii) compelling the plaintiff to meet all her discovery obligations, promptly; (iv) compelling the plaintiff to appear for a deposition, in New York, on a date certain, and, furthermore, dismissing the action, with prejudice, should Crawford-Bey fail to attend the deposition; (v) awarding costs and disbursements incurred by the defendant in making its motion; and (vi) sanctioning the plaintiff in any other manner deemed proper by the Court. The plaintiff did not serve and file a response to the motion.


The plaintiff served the defendant with discovery demands dated October 20, 2008, styled "interrogatories," which sought to elicit information from four individuals who are not parties to this action. The defendant objected, citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 33 and Local Civil Rules 26.3 and 33.3 of this court as its bases for objecting to the interrogatories. The defendant served interrogatories and a request for the production of documents on the plaintiff, on November 7, 2008. The plaintiff's responses to those discovery demands were due on December 10, 2008. In a writing submitted to the defendant, dated December 5, 2008, the plaintiff stated:

I will not answer to [sic] any request of yours until it is clear that you intend to comply in good faith with the discovery requests in this case and only then mail it to you.

Before I receive an answer to all my questions in the interrogatories there will be no response from me. If this is what you want this is what you get.

In a writing dated December 8, 2008, the defendant objected to the plaintiff's document production requests but, nonetheless, provided Crawford-Bey with non-privileged and responsive "personnel and departmental files." On December 11, 2008, the defendant attempted to resolve the dispute respecting Crawford-Bey's interrogatories, informally, in compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1). The defendant advised the plaintiff "it is impermissible under the Federal and Local Rules to refuse to respond to [d]efendant's interrogatories and document requests based on any issues [the plaintiff] may have with [the defendant's] responses to [the plaintiff's] discovery requests." On December 12, 2008, the defendant served the plaintiff with notice of its intention to depose her in January 2009. The parties submitted a writing to the assigned district judge, jointly, dated December 25, 2008. It detailed their respective positions regarding the discovery controversy. Thereafter, the action was referred to the undersigned, to supervise, generally, the parties' pre-trial activities.

A telephonic conference was held with the parties on February 9, 2009. As a result, the Court directed the plaintiff, through a written order dated February 10, 2009, to "attend the deposition proceeding scheduled for her by the defendant." Moreover, the plaintiff was invited to "prepare and serve new interrogatories on the defendant that conform to the requirements of [Local Civil Rule 33.3 of this court]," the Court having determined that the interrogatories Crawford-Bey served on the defendant did not comply with that Rule. In addition, the parties were directed to complete their pretrial discovery activities on or before May 4, 2009. Crawford-Bey lodged objections to the February 10, 2009 order with the assigned district judge. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72. The objections were not sustained.

During the February 9, 2009 telephonic conference with the Court, the plaintiff claimed to "live in South Carolina. I do not live in New York. I'm back and forth." However, according to a writing, dated May 26, 2009, submitted to the Court by the defendant, the plaintiff submitted writings to the defendant, which were received by its counsel on May 11 and May 20, 2009, and were post-marked "Queens, NY." Throughout the course of the instant litigation, correspondence from the plaintiff has been received by the Court, which, according to United States Postal Service markings on the envelopes, were delivered on the following dates: December 29, 2008; January 16; February 12, 23; April 10, 13, 21; May 7, 13; June 3, 4, 2009, each of which was dispatched from either "New York, NY" or "Queens, NY."

There is not one item in the record of the instant litigation, submitted by Crawford-Bey, which bears a United States Postal Service indicia to establish it was mailed from any location other than New York. Moreover, in a writing dated February 12, 2009, the plaintiff stated "I will be in [sic] the next 14 days in New York," and cited an address located in Elmhurst, Queens County, New York. An envelope she mailed to the Pro Se Office for this judicial district, received on June 19, 2008, included a return address located in Elmhurst, New York, a community located in Queens County. All other correspondence mailed to the court from the plaintiff, with one exception, has lacked a return address.*fn1 Considering these writings have been signed by the plaintiff, the contention that it would be an "extreme burden" to be deposed in the judicial district where she instituted the instant litigation, and which borders the judicial district from which many of these signed writings have been mailed, throughout the course of the instant litigation, is incredible.

In March 2009, the plaintiff served the defendant with interrogatories that are indistinguishable from those the Court had determined previously were not in conformity with the relevant Local Civil Rule. The defendant objected, and noted, in an April 10, 2009 writing, that the interrogatories were identical to those deemed impermissible previously. The plaintiff advised the Court, in an April 2009 writing, that she "did not object to depositions," but wanted the Court to order the defendant to answer her interrogatories because, according to Crawford-Bey, "[t]he current interrogatories comply with the local rules."

With respect to the discovery demands the defendant served on Crawford-Bey, she either objected to them or, in those instances where she provided a response, she provided a response that was of no utility. Moreover, Crawford-Bey informed the defendant, that, unless and until her interrogatories are ...

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