Lyons v. New York Life Insurance Company
ORDER granting 38 Letter Motion for Discovery. Thus, the Court grants Lyons leave to depose Jeff Goldstein as her 11th deposition. The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to terminate the motion pending at docket 38. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 6/4/2021) (mml)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
20 Civ. 3120 (PAE)
NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE
PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge:
The Court has received a request from plaintiff Lorraine Lyons seeking permission to
take an 11th deposition in this case, as well as an opposition to that motion by defendant New
York Life Insurance Company (“NY Life”). Dkts. 38 (“Lyons Ltr.”), 39 (“NYL Ltr.”). For the
following reasons, the Court grants Lyons’s motion.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a)(2)(A) requires a party seeking to take more
than 10 depositions to obtain leave of court or the other side’s consent. The Court’s discretion
in deciding whether to grant leave is guided by the principles set forth in Rule 26, which
provides that a Court must limit discovery if it is “unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can
be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less
expensive.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C). A court may “allow more than ten depositions if the
party who is seeking discovery has shown why it is necessary.” Commodity Futures Trading
Comm’n v. Commodity Inv. Grp., Inc., No. 05 Civ. 5741 (HB), 2005 WL 3030816, at *1 (S.D.N.Y.
Nov. 10, 2005). To do so “the moving party must not only justify those depositions it wishes to
take, but also the depositions it has already taken.” Gen. Elec. Co. v. Indem. Ins. Co. of N. Am.,
No. 06 Civ. 232 (CFD), 2006 WL 1525970, at *2 (D. Conn. May 25, 2006).
Here, however, Lyons does not argue that the, in absolute terms, case requires 11, as
opposed to 10, depositions.1 Her motion is instead more narrowly focused on the fact that NY
Life erroneously identified a human resources (“HR”) witness, Beth McGrath, as having relevant
knowledge about Lyons’s termination from NY Life, when a different employee, Jeff Goldstein,
was the knowledgeable member of that office. See Lyons Ltr. at 1–2. Lyons only learned that
McGrath did not know, or even review, the reasons for Lyons’s termination when, at McGrath’s
deposition, McGrath passed the buck to Goldstein. See id. at 3 (McGrath testified that she had
not reviewed the substance of Lyons’s purported performance issues, or the facts underlying
them, but that Goldstein had); see also NYL Ltr. at 2 n.3 (NY Life claims to have also first
learned of Goldstein’s involvement at McGrath’s deposition). Thus, Lyons argues that, had NY
Life accurately disclosed that Goldstein, not McGrath, was the HR employee with knowledge of
the reasons for Lyons’s termination, she would have deposed him, not McGrath, and that NY
Life’s error caused her to waste one of her 10 depositions on McGrath.
Framed as such, Lyons’s motion is clearly meritorious. Had NY Life’s discovery
responses been complete and accurate, Lyons would not be seeking another deposition. Her
request is thus not “unreasonably cumulative or duplicative,” but rather entirely reasonable
and necessary. She seeks, in effect, to proceed as though NY Life had identified the correct
HR witness in the first place. Regardless of NY Life’s views on the relevance of the other nine
witnesses whom Lyons has depose or plans to depose, see NYL Ltr. at 3, Lyons is entitled to
Nor could she, given the straightforward nature of this two-party employment
discrimination and retaliation action. See Lyons Ltr. at 3 (noting that, absent the special
circumstances presented in her letter, she “would not now be requesting permission for an
eleventh deposition”). In light of that assessment, the Court would be very unlikely to grant
further depositions beyond those discussed in this order.
a mulligan on the McGrath deposition. This circumstance is analogous to that in which a party
belatedly discloses a trial witness, where courts routinely reopen discovery for the limited purpose
of allowing the deposition of the newly identified witness, generally without inquiring into the
number or relevance of witnesses previously deposed. See, e.g., Benzinger v. Lukoil Pan Ams.,
LLC, No. 16 Civ. 8533 (PAE), 2021 WL 431169, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 8, 2021); Rojo v.
Deutsche Bank, No. 06 Civ. 13574 (HB), 2009 WL 3790191, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 30, 2009);
NIC Holding Corp. v. Lukoil Pan Ams., LLC, No. 05 Civ. 9372 (LAK) (FM), 2007 WL 1467424,
at *5 (S.D.N.Y. May 16, 2007). Nor is Lyons’s request premature. The Court does not see any
reason to postpone resolving this dispute until after Lyons has completed the depositions of 10
witnesses other than Goldstein. And NY Life’s sole case on this point is far afield. See Gen.
Elec., 2006 WL 1525970, at *2 (discovery had not yet begun, plaintiff had not noticed any
depositions or identified any deponents, and sought leave to take 75 depositions).
Thus, the Court grants Lyons leave to depose Jeff Goldstein as her 11th deposition.
The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to terminate the motion pending at docket 38.
PAUL A. ENGELMAYER
United States District Judge
Dated: June 4, 2021
New York, New York
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