Singletary v. Cumberland County Schools
ORDER denying 53 Motion in Limine and staying ruling on 54 Motion for Protective Order and ruling on 59 Motion to Compel - The court hereby stays ruling on Plaintiff's motion for protective order and Defendant's motion to compel until this court rules on Defendant's motion to dismiss. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. on 08/18/2014. (Baker, C.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
ESTELLE SINGLETARY, on behalf
ofN.M.M., a minor child,
CUMBERLAND COUNTY SCHOOLS,
This matter comes before the court on the following motions: ( 1) Plaintiffs Motion in Limine
[DE-53], (2) Plaintiffs Motion for Protective Order [DE-54], and (3) Defendant's First Motion to
Compel [DE-59]. All briefing is complete and the matters are ripe for disposition. These motions
have been referred for disposition in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b )(1 )(A). For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiffs motion in limine [DE-53] is denied without prejudice and the court stays
ruling on Plaintiffs motion for protective order and Defendant's motion to compel.
On November 14, 2012, PlaintiffEstelle Singletary ("Plaintiff" or "Singletary"), proceeding
pro se and on behalf of her minor daughter, N.M.M., filed her original complaint in this court
alleging civil rights violations in the education ofN.M.M. [DE-l]. Thereafter, on January 15,2013,
Plaintiff filed a motion to amend her complaint along with a proposed amended complaint ("First
Amended Complaint"). [DE-12, -12-1]. On August 30, 2013, this court denied Plaintiffs motion
to amend her complaint as to her purported claims of discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973, the ADA and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after finding that such claims were futile, but allowed
Plaintiff to amend her complaint regarding her allegations of violation of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") and retaliation under the Rehabilitation Act. [DE-17] at 17-18.
Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint was filed by the clerk on August 30, 2013.
On December 10, 20 13, Plaintiffmoved to file a Second Amended Complaint [DE-32] which
the court allowed and Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint was filed March 14, 2014 [DE-49].
On February 24, 2014, the court entered a case management order [DE-45] and order governing
procedures for receipt of the administrative record [DE-46]. On April25, 2014, the administrative
record was filed with this court. See [DE-65] through [DE-75].
Plaintiff's Motion in Limine [DE-53]
Plaintiff filed a motion in limine on April 8, 2014, seeking the exclusion ofN .M.M.' s private
medical records from trial. Pl.'s Mot. in Limine [DE-53]. The private medical records which are
the subject of Plaintiffs motion in limine are the same records contested in Plaintiffs motion for
protective order. See Pl.'s Mot. Prot. Order [DE-54]. Currently, this case is in the discovery phase
and pursuant to the court's case management order entered February 24, 2014, discovery is not set
to end until September 24, 2014. [DE-45] at 2. Having considered the motion and the posture of
the case, the court finds that Plaintiffs motion in limine is premature. Moreover, the medical
records Plaintiff seeks to exclude from trial do not appear to have been produced by Plaintiff to date.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs motion in limine is denied without prejudice to be refiled at a later time.
Defendant has filed a motion to compel and Plaintiff has filed a motion for protective order,
each related to Defendant's First Set of Document Production Requests. [DE-54, -59]. The
undersigned has also been referred for memorandum and recommendation Defendant's motion to
dismiss which contends that dismissal is appropriate as to many of Plaintiffs present claims, some
on the basis that Plaintiff has raised claims for which she has not exhausted the administrative
process. [DE-57]. The parties have also now filed with the court the administrative record as
previously directed by court order. See [DE-65] through [DE-76].
Given that the nature of this suit is an appeal from an administrative agency decision, the
court finds it effective to stay ruling on the parties' discovery motions until Defendant's motion to
dismiss has been ruled upon by the court. "The IDEA permits courts to 'hear additional evidence
at the request of a party,' 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(2)(C)(ii), but the Fourth Circuit has construed this
provision narrowly," Y.B. v. Bd. of Educ. of Prince George's Cnty., 895 F. Supp. 2d 689, 702 (D.
Md. 2012), to "assist in giving due weight to the administrative proceeding," Springer v. Fairfax
Cnty. Sch. Bd., 134 F .3d 659, 667 (4th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). See also Burlington v. Dep 't
of Educ., 736 F.2d 773, 790 (1st Cir. 1984) ("The starting point for determining what additional
evidence should be received, however, is the record of the administrative proceeding."). The
pending motion to dismiss raises issues of administrative exhaustion, having the potential to narrow
the claims properly before the court. Accordingly, the court hereby stays ruling on Plaintiffs motion
for protective order and Defendant's motion compel until this court rules on Defendant's motion to
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs motion in limine [DE-53] is denied without prejudice
and the court stays ruling on Plaintiffs motion for protective order [DE-54] and Defendant's motion
to compel [DE-59].
So ordered, the 18th day of August 2014.
United States Magistrate Judge
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