Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

O'Garra v. Northwell Health

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 22, 2018

VERNON M. O'GARRA, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHWELL HEALTH, fka, NORTH SHORE LONG ISLAND JEWISH MEDICAL HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND OPINION

          Anne Y. Shields United States Magistrate Judge

         This is an employment discrimination case in which Plaintiff Vernon M. O'Garra (“Plaintiff” or “O'Garra”) claims that his former employer, Defendant Northwell Health (“Northwell” or “Defendant”) discriminated against him on the basis of his race, age and gender. See generally Complaint herein Docket Entry (“DE”) 1. Presently before the Court are the parties' discovery disputes relating to the proper scope of document discovery.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was employed by Northwell (or its predecessor corporation) beginning in 2002. This is not Plaintiff's first claim against Northwell. In fact, in 2014, Plaintiff settled employment discrimination claims against this same employer. The present action relates to the denial of post-settlement positions. See DE 1 ¶¶ 49-50 (setting forth particular positions); see also DE 1 ¶¶ 53 (setting forth applications for particular positions with a different company, albeit allegedly via a related website). Plaintiff claims that he was denied these post-2014 opportunities for discriminatory reasons.

         On June 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed a claim of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights (the “NYSDHR”). That claim alleged direct discrimination as well as discrimination in retaliation for the making of his prior claim. On January 12, 2016, the NYSDHR issued a finding of no probable cause to believe that discrimination had occurred.

         On March 22, 2016, Plaintiff received an offer of employment from a company referred to in the Complaint as “Optimum 360” to serve as its Supervisor of Patient Access Services. DE 1 at ¶ 62 (Optimum 360 is referred to in the parties' papers and hereinafter as “Optum360”). He alleges that this position is “the same position” to which he applied for “countless times” at Northwell. Id. Plaintiff took the position with Optum360, and it appears that he is presently employed there. Plaintiff states that his salary at Optum360 exceeds what he was being paid at Northwell.

         II. Prior Proceedings and the Present Motions

         The parties herein have engaged in extensive Tier I and Tier II paper discovery. Despite discovery rulings made after a telephone conference held on May 17, 2017, counsel could not resolve their differences. Accordingly, they briefed the opposing cross-motions for discovery that are presently before the Court. As discussed in greater detail below, Defendant's motion seeks to have Plaintiff execute a particular authorization allowing Defendant access to certain of Plaintiff's post-termination employment records. Defendant also seeks more complete responses to discovery. Plaintiff's motion seeks additional document production and responses to interrogatories. The Court turns to the merits of both motions.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standards

         The scope of discovery is set forth in Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. That Rule has been amended, on several occasions, to reflect evolving judgments as to the proper scope of discovery. Over time, these amendments have been aimed at striking the proper balance between the need for evidence, and the avoidance of undue burden or expense. Pothen v. Stony Brook University, 2017 WL 1025856, *2 (E.D.N.Y. March 15, 2017). In 1999, Rule 26(b)(1) stated that “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) (1999). In 2000, in an effort to curb over-discovery that took advantage of tying the term “subject matter” to the definition of the scope of discovery, Rule 26 was amended. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), Advisory Comm. Notes (2000). That amendment required a party to show “good cause” before obtaining discovery that is “relevant to the subject matter involved in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Id.

         Rule 26 was again amended effective December 1, 2015. The scope of discovery is now defined to consist of information that is relevant to the parties' “claims and defenses.” Thus, the discretionary authority to allow discovery of “any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action” has been eliminated. Additionally, the current version of Rule 26 defines permissible discovery to consist of information that is, in addition to being relevant “to any party's claim or defense, ” also “proportional to the needs of the case.” Id.

         Information “is relevant if: ‘(a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Vaigasi v. Solow Mgmt. Corp., 2016 WL 616386, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 16, 2016) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 401). Further, “[t]he party seeking the discovery must make a prima facie showing, that the discovery sought is more than merely a fishing expedition.” Evans v. Calise, 1994 WL 185696, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. 1994); see also Mandell v. The Maxon Co., Inc., 2007 WL 3022552, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (“[T]he party seeking discovery bears the burden of initially showing relevance.” (citation omitted)); see also Surles v. Air France, 2001 WL 1142231, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (refusing to permit discovery where defendant had no factual basis that requests would lead to relevant evidence). It is well-established that “[m]otions to compel are left to the court's sound discretion.” Mirra v. Jordan, 2016 WL 889683, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. 2016); see also Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Kohler Co., 2010 WL 1930270, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (“[A] motion to compel is entrusted to the sound discretion of the district court.”). Id.

         As demonstrated, the discretionary authority to allow discovery of “any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action” has been eliminated. Additionally, the current version of Rule 26 defines permissible discovery to consist of information that is, in addition to being relevant “to any party's claim or defense, ” also “proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         While proportionality factors have now been incorporated into the Rule 26(b)(1) definition, those factors were already a part of Federal discovery standards, appearing in Rule 26(b)(2)(C)(iii). Those proportionality factors have now been restored to the place of their intended importance by their incorporation into the very definition of permissible discovery. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), Advisory Comm. Notes (2015) (noting that amendment “restores the place of their intended importance by their incorporation into the very definition of permissible discovery. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), Advisory Comm. Notes (2015) (noting that amendment ‚Äúrestores the proportionality factors to their original place in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.