Treadwell v. Prince George's County et al

Filing 70

REDACTED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 47 Motion to Bifurcate; GRANTING IN PART 48 Motion for Protective Order; GRANTING 49 Motion to Seal ECF Nos. 48 & 48-1; GRANTING 55 Motion to Seal Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Protective Order; GRANTING 62 Motion to Seal ECF No. 60 (Reply); GRANTING 65 Motion to Seal. Signed by Chief Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 6/12/2014. (rss, Deputy Clerk)

Download PDF
Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC Document 6,60 •••••• Filed 06/13/14 Page 1 of 16 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND OREADEA TREADWELL v. Civil Action No. DKC 13-0063 PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, ET AL. MEMORANDUM Presently employment pending OPINION and discrimination AND ORDER ready case for are two resolution motions. in this Defendants Prince George's County Health Department and Christopher Oladipo move for a protective order prohibiting Plaintiff or Plaintiff's counsel from (ECF No. 48). disclosing confidential personnel Second, Defendant Prince George's County moves to bifurcate the claims in this case. (ECF No. 47). rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. For the following reasons, the motion will granted be information. in part and denied The court now Local Rule 105.6. for a protective order in part. The motion to bifurcate will be denied. I. Background Plaintiff Developer. language, is an employee of the County as a Community She alleges that she has been subject to abusive unwelcome sexual advances, Oladipo, an employee of the County. and sexual assaults by She alleges that the County Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC knew about remedial Oladipo's of Title and VII, of to 42 U.S.C. On February stipulated prohibi ts persons retaliation Fourteenth ~ 1983. failed against Amendment disclosure any who are not the parties, appropriate for in Protection pursuant Complaint) . the parties' Confidentiality the following witnesses, sex violation Defendants, approved The of County Amended the undersigned of take of the Equal against Order. Page 2 of 16 claims the (ECF No. 28, Second 10, 2014, to brought of a violation Confidentiality the but Plaintiff and a claim the Filed 06/13/14 i acti vi ties actions. discrimination clause Document 66 experts, Order documents to or counsel: Any and all documents or items produced by Defendants which pertain to discipline of employees, termination of employees, and any other personnel information set forth in any personnel files concerning former or current employees of Prince George's County, Maryland. Any criminal in discovery. investigatory files produced The testimony of any and all individuals deposed in this matter regarding the contents of personnel files, including any discipline of employees, termination of employees, and/or other personnel matters regarding former or current employees of Prince George's County, Maryland. Any financial, psychological discovery. (ECF No. protective 42 'IT 2). order On medical, records April 21, counseling, produced 2014, Plaintiff prohibiting 2 Defendants and/or or in moved for a Plaintiff's counsel from produced by Defendants deposition No. of dis clos ing Defendants against replied II. and motion discovered former during the (ECF employees. (ECF Nos. 51 and 54), and the County claims this moved to against motion bifurcate the (ECF No. Count County. 57), III (ECF NO. and the County 63). Analysis Motion for Protective issue an order set protect the establish forth specific statements Baron Corp. Fin. courts discovery problems. 62 (4th Cir. Plaintiff and to court party H good person burden undue or cause under particular why a protective broad discretion Labs., F.R.D. annoyance, including in Inc. The burden on the movant rather than broad 202 [their] v. is 26(c); order 200, [to] expense, Rule facts, cause, from or discovery.H 240 Mylan "for or Natanzon, have should issue. (D.Md. 2006). resolution Akzo, of 2 F.3d N.V., 1993) has to or good as v. "District a disclosure to conclusory conference permits oppression, . forbidding must the to embarrassment, movant Order 26(c) Fed.R.Civ.P 56, the opposed (ECF No. A. the 2014, from Plaintiff the or information (ECF No. 60). 4, Oladipo 47). opposed replied On April discovery representatives Page 3 of 16 personnel confidential during County Plaintiff 48). Filed 06/13/14 Document 66••••• Case indicated disclose that information 3 she that intends to she learned hold a during press the Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC course of states that chree pieces depositions during of of the complaint she sexually $1,000 for aid personnel files she exchanged, details that this a aware as of Ms. Fajimolu-Onkedo's ECF extortion. (See to No. testimony disclose 1 'lI'iI 43-45). Mr. who testified Oladipo, investigation produced by Defendants, she first of Defendants' not learned that of any represents any sexual discovery which harassmenc Plaintiff a conducted contained that in and seeks former criminal, Mr. County of to Mr. role during Plaintiff's Gheen's 4 investigation information about personnel file chat this She investigation. Gheen's an Oladipo's and Mr. Gheen testified response most he represents was not administrative, contends County. complaint, Raymond Gheen, that Plaintiff chis She Second, her come from before of pay the not original complaint from with chat -------.a...- ...----- investigator, of her he that did by Ms. testimony investigation. by disclose discrimination demanded allegation to testimony including information this evidenced seeks sexual employment criminal or became and •.. *••.....' ,. . securing in contends a County, her she Plaintiff deposition concerning harassed Plaintiff thac first, the Page 4 of 16 representatives. conference, information: made against Oladipo Filed 06/13/14 County press Fajimolu-Okonede Toyin was Document 66 admi ts discovery was an as interrogatories, testimony pertains that part but to Ms. Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC Fajimolu-Okonede's seeks to Document 6~8 ••• discrimination disclose Crankfield, a " Page 5 of 16 complaint. Finally, cestimony deposition County Filed 06/13/14 from Plaintiff Ms. Angela employee ~---------Plaintiff represents information that this case, sum, Plaintiff direct this by Order that and, contend Protective personnel files to Mr. Gheen's disclosure of this given that Order information covering not she has to any file produced in investigation. In is information the County's relate covered by of response to lack not a responsibility to make public. personnel files does to any criminal of wrongdoing, information the testimony in any personnel it relate argues evidence Defendants this was contained nor does the Protective that of Ms. all because and/or of this all of the information Fajimolu-Okonedo investigations of information information taken contains directly from the and Mr. Oladipo, personnel testimony, the Protective documents and testimony 5 is covered matters. Order and the In regard prohibits pertaining to the any Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC personnel current Document 66~ information set Filed 06/13/14 forth in the Page 6 of 16 personnel files of and former employees, including anything pertaining to discipline. Defendants further argue that because allegations of bribery and extortion are criminal in nature and any related investigation matters this into those allegations deals with which may have resulted in the discipline information is covered by the terms of personnel of Oladipo, the Protective Order. This is an unusual situation. Plaintiff has received information in discovery that she wants to reveal publicly but not in the context of litigation. that what may remain confidential stage of the litigation example, information public's interest of v. Wash. motion) . (public has a order party For substantive Post, rights. See Va. 386 F.3d 567, 578-79 (4 th First Amendment a relied upon by a right of access to submitted in conjunction with a dispositive Furthermore, protective sealed; Police properly find themselves in. in examining the evidence Dep't materials what in the dispositive motions stage, given the a party's 2004 ) on will not necessarily be deserving of in adjudicating Cir. depending that is confidential during the discovery court State differs the parties phase of the proceedings similar protection It is. important to emphasize will must mere not reliance guarantee demonstrate 6 on the terms that a record that alternatives of will a be less Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC restrictive than Document 66 sealing sealing or redacting Filed 06/13/14 the record are inadequate See Cochran overcome records"); Butler why v. Volvo Grp. N. Am., 931 F.Supp.2d 725, 729 (M.D.N.C. 2013) agreement and a record furthers interests greater than the public's right of access. LLC, Page 7 of 16 the public's v. DirectSAT right of ("parties cannot by access to judicial 876 F.Supp.2d 560, 576 USA, LLC, n.18 (D.Md. 2012) (party seeking to seal exhibits simply because it is covered satisfy Local by a Rule representations") confidentiality 105.11's cause. have The not of insufficient "specific Fajimolu-Okonede' s deposition met Protective contents of personnel adequately requirement is to factual . In regard to Ms. Defendants order that Ms. their Order files. burden covers of testimony, demonstrating testimony good concerning the Defendants have not demonstrated Fajimolu-Okonede's testimony concerns the contents of any County employee's personnel file. The evidence here of does not suggest Fajimolu-Okonede's this litigation. that accusations Plaintiff for the learned first time the as part Ms. of Quite the contrary, in her original complaint she details 01adipo's alleged sexual harassment of Ms. FajimoluOnkendo and the complaint Ms. Fajimolu-Okendo filed. also recounted extortion. (ECF Ms. No. Fajimo1u-Oknekdo's allegation Plaintiff of Oladipo's This complaint was not filed 1 'll'll 43-44). under seal and no party has subsequently moved to file it under 7 Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKCDocument66'-" seal. While have her is no it is for that the regard do not the state employee's personnel 10-616 (i) law makes the an willful and of law. the involving entitled to The parties disclosure the Here, alleged acts of reasonably agreed otherwise But Plaintiff states of a she original that 8 This State is is of a Gov't ~ tied to The the record for in is a violation litigation employee, Plaintiff would not be otherwise. order information never itself; government. this from complaint she file damages to. a protective learned testimony inspection by the Because where of covered. actual a County is information public confidential information by Plaintiff's held for 10-626. records parties. evidenced ~ the that covers prohibits to liable inspection only not her The terms Md. Code Ann. record personnel of which made information file. is any Defendants personnel sources given individual Id. the record. personnel knowing the of not dispute. It there requested has governs go so far. law, The protection location: present could private, or she a personnel from other Maryland its in contents with . the testimony and Page 8 of 16 Fajimolu-Okendo promised order found learned consistent was to Ms. this testimony that into information her Order Protective inquiring she confidentiality with that keeping that known in consistent the in indication posi tion argue acknowledged own interest confidentiality Filed06/13/14 to - limit shared another is requested, the between source not was - as protected. and has never Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC received Ms. question posed file. marginal testimony stifling The the the concerns sworn as of the to the prevent the conversation Plaintiff's is are not the great victim, disclosure allegations Plaintiff's adding a are complaint alleged enough and victim's to war",ant speech. conclusion of a in third-party These through is alleged to no personnel there of need Defendants that a unpersuasive. sphere her by testimony to Page 9 of 16 Consequently, contents made public the the file. appreciates is cost to personnel ~llegations testimony in Filed 06/13/14 undersigned arguments this already her the and Defendants' the to between complaint of Fajimolu-Okendo's While difference 66'-" Document the same in regard to Ms. Crankfield's _•...•_---_ .._-_ ..------. ----------------- ••... testimony. There indication that personnel file. hypotheticals this by the covered by the demonstrated not be standards why it wise, of Protective must concerns remain one's wisdom. Order right This and confidential. 9 the contents revealing publicly While might governed testimony to of speak no any and rumors testimony Defendants is is not is not have not Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC Mr. Gheen's Document 66 testimony Filed 06/13/14 is a ~ Page 10 of 16 •. -_. _ matter, different however. m ill ~.m _ • ~--.-._ • ~ The Furthermore, in the there public Gheen's distinction covered is no indication sphere testimony as it was that by the parties' B. Motion the not draws this not information part apparent. is already of the complaint. Plaintiff Protective is seeks to Mr. disclose is Order.' to Bifurcate Plaintiff brings retaliation against I and II), and clause of the Oladipo, Plaintiff r the County a claim pursuant of claims in violation for a violation Fourteenth Amendment to 42 U.S.C. sex ~ 1983 discrimination of Title of the against (Count Equal the III). VII and (Counts Protection County The and County , The parties seek to keep under seal their filings. As some of the information contained is covered by the Protective Order, it necessarily follows that this information discussed in the parties' filings should remain protected and the motions to seal will be granted. This memorandum opinion and order will be filed under seal temporarily and the parties will propose redactions within fourteen (14) days. 10 Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC has moved Document to bifurcate Filed 06/13/14 6[JlO ••••• the claims against Page 11 of 16 Oladipo from Count III . Under prejudice, Fed.R.Civ.P. "[flor 42 (b) , convenience, avoid or to expedite and economize," the court may order separate trials of any claims or issues. discretion to in deciding whether The court has broad to bifurcate claims for trial, and the exercise of that discretion will be set aside only if clearly abused. Dixon v. CSX Transp., 990 F.2d 1440, 1443 Inc., (4th Cir. 1993) In Count III, Plaintiff alleges that Oladipo violated her clearly established discrimination by constitutional sexually right harassing to be her color of state law as a County employee. Plaintiff's because established, 1983. Oladipo Plaintiff Count III for constitutional is individually free while from sex acting under Plaintiff claims that was right liable under clearly 42 U.S.C. ~ also argues that the County is liable under violating Plaintiff's constitutional rights by allowing Oladipo's practices to become a custom or practice of the County as evidenced by its long-held knowledge of Oladipo's acts accompanied Oladipo, and by failing its failure to train to investigate its employees and on EEO punish laws and provide them adequate remedial measures. The prevent County argues prejudice to that bifurcation Oladipo. To 11 is appropriate demonstrate the to County's Case liability under demonstrate rights, 42 U.S.C. that but 5 Oladipo that Filed 06/13/14 Page 12 of 16 Document 6~ he violated did practice, or policy. 1983, Plaintiff so not Plaintiff's pursuant to only has to constitutional a County custom, This will necessitate the introduction of evidence of other allegations of discrimination. Much of this evidence would be irrelevant as to the events between Plaintiff and Oladipo and would be highly prejudicial to Oladipo. Furthermore, becaus~ County liability is predicated on Oladipo's violation of trials makes Plaintiff's constitutional sense because a verdict rights, bifurcating in Oladipo's trial will obviate the need for a County trial. In Plaintiff opposition, argues that the County will already be part of the case as it is vicariously liable for the actions of standards Section Oladipo used to under Title VII (Count I). judge a discrimination Because claim brought the under 1983 are the same as those for a Title VII claim, it would be inefficient Oladipo as against an the Furthermore, to try the constitutional claims individual County Count against Oladipo for II separate the is acts for from of the Title Oladipo, retaliation, A in Count III. a VII its claim against claims employee. not finding that Oladipo made is not liable on Count III would do nothing to eliminate the need for a second Finally, trial against Plaintiff the argues County that 12 on the the retaliation evidence that claim. would be Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC brought Filed 06/13/14 Page 13 of 16 forth in Count III that the County failed to train its employees with Document 66 and have adequate procedures the affirmative defending the policies defenses harassment and practices the claim, in place would overlap County has specifically in place to prevent invoked that it in had and correct sexual harassment and that Plaintiff failed to reasonably avail herself of said Counts policies I County's and and practices. II (~Plaintiff failed internal '\Defendant's unlawful (See ECF No. 27, Answer anti-harassment actions were not to avail policies undertaken herself and of to the procedures H pursuant to ; any or discriminatory County policies, customs, practices, or procedures. H)) Plaintiff's arguments bifurcate will be denied. are persuasive and the motion Unlike the cases cited by the County, here the County is not simply an ~inactive defendant, only if Plaintiff. can constitutional to first prove that Oladipo liable H violated right to be free from discrimination. her Plaintiff also seeks to hold the County liable for Oladipo's acts under Title VII, hostile it will be liable if Oladipo created a environment because Oladipo was Plaintiff's supervisor. Burlington Because for which Indus., of Inc. v. Ellerth, this potentially 524 vicarious U.s. 742, 765 (1998). liability, employers in Title VII hostile work environment claims can be more active, by asserting as a defense that the 13 plaintiff failed to tak~ Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC advantage the County that v. of the Document 66 available has remedial invoked County will that not Town of Bladensburg, which an the County employer only case discrimination Morgan v. (D.Md. Dec. heavily, County only the of decision. Id. of were *7. to involved that it it Uquite The County's a case Section under 2013 premature H to 1983. WL 6898494 did but, to The employment Grimm appropriate motion against Section Judge upon 1983. only PWG-13-1394, may be was indicating claims involving Furthermore, above, Marryshow (D.Md. 1991), solely No. case, H under brought Rockville, case, at this defendant. solely cites deciding the 318 Page 14 of 16 As discussed in liability 2013) . 30, bifurcate, state 139 F.R.D. claims City defense supervisory the measures. be an Uinactive relies for Filed 06/13/14 not given make bifurcate will that be denied.2 Therefore, for Memorandum Opinion, United States the . it District is reasons this Court 12th for in stated day of June, the District the foregoing 2014, of by the Maryland, ORDERED that: 2 In its reply, the County takes a different tack, arguing that Plaintiff is only opposing bifurcation because she wants to admit evidence of Oladipo's allegedly wrongful prior bad acts. But, the County argues, those acts are from many years ago and are too remote to be admissible and, in addition, would result in undue prejudice. These arguments are best saved for trial, if and when one occurs. 14 Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC 1. Document 66 Filed 06/13/14 Page 15 of 16 The motion for a protective order filed by Defendants Prince George's County, Maryland and Christopher Oladipo (ECF releasing the Fajim?lu-Okonede and No. 48) BE, and the same hereby IS, GRANTED IN PART; 2. The parties are not .excerpts of the depositions Ms. Angela Crankfield prohibited of Ms. Toyin from provided by Plaintiff in her opposition (ECF Nos. 51-1 and 51-4); 3. The parties are prohibited from releasing the excerpts of the deposition of Mr. Raymond Gheen provided by Plaintiff in her opposition (ECF No. 51-3); 4. County, The motion Maryland for bifurcation (ECF No. 47) BE, filed by and the Prince George's. same hereby IS, DENIED; 5. The motions to seal (ECF Nos. 49, 55, 62, and 65) BE, and the same hereby ARE, GRANTED; 6. ECF Nos. 48, 51, and 54, and 63 shall remain SEALED in their entirety; 7. This memorandum opinion and order shall be filed UNDER SEAL temporarily and the parties will suggest redactions within fourteen (14) days; and 15 Case 8:13-cv-00063-DKC 8. Opinion The clerk and Order Document 66 will to counsel Filed 06/13/14 transmit copies of the Page 16 of 16 Memorandum for the parties. /s/ DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District 16 Judge

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?