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Sharon L. Cross v. Patrick R. Donahoe

October 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David E. Peebles U.S. Magistrate Judge


This action, which has been pending for nearly three years, was commenced by pro se plaintiff Sharon L. Cross to challenge the termination of her employment with the United States Postal Service ("USPS") in June 2009. Although initially broader, her suit has been narrowed in scope through motion practice, and now includes claims by plaintiff alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000-e et seq., a deprivation of procedural due process, and a violation of her right to privacy. As relief, Cross seeks reinstatement to her former employment position, as well as damages in the amount of $100 million.

Currently pending before the court is plaintiff's motion seeking an order compelling discovery. For the reasons set forth below that motion is granted, in part, but otherwise denied.


Plaintiff was employed with the USPS from 1999 until 2009. On December 14, 2007, she was charged in this court, by the filing of a two-count criminal information, with submitting false medical documentation to the USPS, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1018. See United States v. Cross, No. 07-CR-563, Dkt. No. 7. The filing of that information was followed, on January 14, 2008, by the issuance of a notice from the USPS to plaintiff advising her that her employment would be terminated, effective February 23, 2008, based upon the same facts underlying the criminal charges against her.

On December 4, 2008, following a jury trial, the plaintiff was acquitted of the criminal charges against her. See United States v. Cross, 07-CR-563, Dkt. Nos. 49, 50. Despite that acquittal, the USPS continued in its efforts to terminate plaintiff's employment. Those efforts culminated in the termination of plaintiff's employment in or about June 2009, following the completion of grievance proceedings initiated by the plaintiff's union.


Plaintiff commenced this action on November 18, 2009. Over the course of its three-year ensuing lifetime, the case has had a tortured procedural history that has included, among other things, five interlocutory appeals by plaintiff to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Dkt. Nos. 22, 41, 96, 115, 128. Of those, four have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and the fifth remains pending. Dkt. Nos. 52, 113.

While both plaintiff's original and amended complaints contained a broader array of claims and named as defendants not only John E. Potter, both individually and in his official capacity as the USPS Postmaster, but additionally the American Postal Workers Union, A.F.L.-C.I.O, and its president, William Burrus, as well as a John Doe defendant, her claims have been winnowed through the issuance of three decisions by Senior District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. Dkt. Nos. 10, 31, 95. This action now centers upon plaintiff's wrongful termination claim, in violation of her civil rights, against the remaining defendants.

On March 7, 2012, as later supplemented on March 12, 2012, plaintiff moved for an order compelling the defendants to respond to discovery demands served by her, including interrogatories, requests for the production of documents ("RFPs"), and requests for admissions ("RFAs"). Dkt. Nos. 92, 94. Following a hearing conducted to address those motions, I issued an order, dated April 5, 2012, in which I directed the remaining defendants to provide responses, under oath, to four of plaintiff's third set of interrogatories, but otherwise denied the motion, without prejudice to plaintiff's right to serve an additional twenty-one interrogatories upon defendant Potter, on or before April 30, 2012. Dkt. No. 106.

On August 31, 2012, plaintiff moved seeking an order compelling defendants to provide responses to her earlier interrogatories, pursuant to the court's order dated April 5, 2012, as well as to the twenty-one additional interrogatories served on defendant Potter, with the court's permission. Dkt. No. 134. Defendants have since responded in opposition to that motion, laying out for the court the discovery that has been provided to the plaintiff throughout this case, and asserting their belief that they have fully complied with the court's prior order. Dkt. No. 135.

Upon its filing, plaintiff's motion was scheduled for argument on October 5, 2012, in Binghamton, New York. Text Notice dated Aug. 31, 2012. On October 1, 2012, however, the court received a communication from the plaintiff stating that she "has been stricken with a virus and severe flare up of various health conditions, which has [sic] seriously disabled her requiring bed rest to recover." Dkt. No. 136 at ¶ 3. Plaintiff therefore requested "an extension and an enlargement of time to recover from sickness, research the law, investigate, and respond accordingly, to the defendants with regarding [sic] her demands for discovery."*fn2 Id. at ¶ 6. By text order issued on October 2, 2012, the requests for adjournment of the scheduled hearing and an extension of time to reply were denied in light of the age of the case, and instead, in my discretion, I ordered that the motion be taken on submission.*fn3


A. Standard Governing ...

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