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Teelucksingh v. Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 22, 2014

PETER A. TEELUCKSINGH, Plaintiff,
v.
BISHOP FORD CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL and LAY FACULTY ASSOCIATION, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, District Judge.

On June 21, 2012, plaintiff, Peter A. Teelucksingh, proceeding pro se, filed this employment discrimination action against defendants, Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School ("Bishop Ford") and Lay Faculty Association ("LFA"; together with Bishop Ford, "defendants"), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17. ( See Compl. (Doc. No. 1); Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 5).) Currently before the Court are (1) Teelucksingh's motion to voluntarily dismiss the instant action without prejudice pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a); and (2) defendants' cross-motion to dismiss the instant action with prejudice pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).[1] For the reasons that follow, the Court finds ample basis on which to dismiss this action with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

On July 17, 2012, Teelucksingh filed an amended complaint, alleging that defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his race and national origin. (Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) On July 30, 2012, the Court denied Teelucksingh's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Bishop Ford and LFA answered the amended complaint on September 21, 2012 and September 24, 2012, respectively. On December 4, 2012, Magistrate Judge Azrack conducted an initial conference and ordered the parties to serve interrogatories and initial document requests by March 4, 2013. ( See Dec. 4, 2012 Min. Entry.) At defendants' request, Judge Azrack extended this deadline to April 4, 2013, and the deadline for responses to May 6, 2013. ( See Mar. 5, 2013 Order; Mar. 29, 2013 Order.) On May 8, 2013, Judge Azrack conducted a status conference and ordered the parties to serve any supplemental discovery requests by May 22, 2013; respond to these supplemental requests by June 21, 2013; serve notices of deposition by July 12, 2013; and conclude depositions by October 12, 2013. (May 8, 2013 Min. Entry.)

On May 9, 2013, counsel for Bishop Ford e-mailed Teelucksingh, stating that Teelucksingh's responses to Bishop Ford's requests were inadequate. (Frischling Decl. Ex. 2.) On May 10, 2013, Teelucksingh responded that he required a confidentiality agreement before he would produce certain tax documents and employment records. ( See id. ) On May 17, 2013, counsel for Bishop Ford e-mailed Teelucksingh a draft confidentiality agreement. ( Id. ¶ 8 & Ex. 3.)

On May 20, 2013, the parties contacted Judge Azrack's chambers with various discoveryrelated disputes. Judge Azrack (1) denied Teelucksingh's request for an extension of time to respond to defendants' initial discovery requests; (2) directed Teelucksingh that he could respond to specific discovery requests by stating that he was awaiting certain documents from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and would respond fully upon obtaining those documents; (3) directed that while Teelucksingh was entitled to raise a general objection that defendants were requesting documents already in their possession, he must still respond to their requests unless he had some other valid objection entitling him not to respond; and (4) extended the parties' deadline to serve supplemental discovery requests until May 29, 2013, and the deadline to respond to such requests until June 28, 2013. (May 20, 2013 Min. Entry.)

On May 23, 2013, Teelucksingh responded to defendants' draft confidentiality agreement, requesting that defendants sign the confidentiality agreement first, and stating that he would sign afterwards. (Frischling Decl. ¶ 9 & Ex. 4.) Defendants acceded to this request, and, on May 28, 2013, e-mailed Teelucksingh a copy of the confidentiality agreement with their signatures. ( Id. ¶ 9 & Ex. 5.) On May 29, 2013, June 5, 2013, and June 7, 2013, defense counsel sent Teelucksingh e-mails inquiring about the status of the confidentiality agreement. ( Id. ¶ 10 & Exs. 6-8.) Although Teelucksingh finally signed the confidentiality agreement on June 8, -, he continued to refuse to produce the documents due to purported confidentiality concerns. ( Id. ¶ 11 & Ex. 8.) Defendants, in turn, failed to bring this problem to Judge Azrack's attention until August 2, 2013. ( See Doc. No. 28.)

Teelucksingh failed to serve notices of deposition by the July 12, 2013 deadline. ( See May 8, 2013 Min. Entry; Frischling Decl. ¶ 14.)

On August 6, 2013, Judge Azrack addressed several additional discovery-related disputes between the parties and (1) denied all but two of Teelucksingh's requests for further responses to his document requests; (2) denied Teelucksingh's request for information concerning communications between Bishop Ford's current and former counsels; (3) found that Teelucksingh had served an excessive number of interrogatories, and directed defendants concerning which of these interrogatories required responses; (4) ordered Teelucksingh to produce certain financial documentation and any relevant medical or psychological records, but permitted him to redact information pertaining to his wife; (5) extended the deadlines to notice and conduct depositions until September 5, 2013, and November 15, 2013, respectively; and (6) denied Teelucksingh's request to conduct non-stenographic depositions. (Aug. 7, 2013 Min. Entry.) Teelucksingh failed to serve notices of deposition by the extended September 5, 2013 deadline. ( See Frischling Decl. Ex. 11 (Doc. No. 48-2).)

On September 10, 2013, Judge Azrack conducted a settlement conference, determined that settlement was not yet possible, and ordered that depositions go forward. ( See Sept. 10, 2013 Min. Entry.) On September 18, 2013, however, Teelucksingh advised defense counsel that he was "still seeking alternative arrangements with reference to scheduling the depositions." (Frischling Decl. Ex. 11.) In fact, Teelucksingh never complied with Judge Azrack's order to notice depositions.

In the ensuing weeks, the parties continued to discuss settlement. Although Teelucksingh initially agreed in principle to a settlement offer, he reneged upon realizing that, among other things, the settlement agreement would require him to release additional claims and bar him from applying for future employment at Bishop Ford. ( See, e.g., Doc. No. 36 at 5-6.)

By e-mail dated October 7, 2013, Teelucksingh requested that defense counsel consent to a twelve-month adjournment of upcoming depositions, explaining that he had "recently gained full-time employment" and wished to put the case on hold until he completed the one-year probationary period at his new job. ( See Doc. No. 36 at 9.) Defense counsel did not consent to this proposed adjournment. On October 15, 2013, Teelucksingh faxed to Judge Azrack a letter, dated October 14, 2013, requesting that upcoming depositions be adjourned for at least eleven months. ( See id. at 2.) In support of this request, Teeluckingh mentioned not only his probationary status at his new job, but also that he was scheduled to attend employment-related training on October 21 and 22, 2013, and that he was exploring the possibility of retaining an Albany-based attorney who required a few days to review the case. ( See id. at 2, 10.)

On October 17, 2013, Judge Azrack conducted another settlement conference. To accommodate Teelucksingh's job training schedule, defendants agreed to alter their proposed deposition schedule. The parties agreed, and Judge Azrack directed, that depositions for Teelucksingh's wife and Teelucksingh would occur on October 25 and 28, 2013, respectively. (Oct. 17, 2013 Min. Entry; Frischling Decl. ¶ 25.)

On October 20, 2013, Teelucksingh e-mailed defendants, stating, "I will check with my wife regarding her availability" for the scheduled deposition. (Frischling Decl. ¶ 26 & Ex. 18.) In his motion papers, Teelucksingh asserts that he needed to check with his wife because she worked on Long Island, and her deposition was relocated from Garden City to Manhattan. ( See Doc. No. 44.) Defendants responded that Mrs. Teelucksingh's deposition was scheduled to occur on October 25, 2013, pursuant to Judge Azrack's order. ( Id. ¶ 27 & Ex. 19.) On October 21, 2013, Teelucksingh e-mailed Judge Azrack's chambers and ...


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