United States of America v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University et al
ORDER stricken as moot 146 United States' Motion to Compel Production of ESI Withheld on the Basis of Privilege ; stricken as moot 149 Defendants Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma's Mo tion to Partially Quash Plaintiff's Second Amended Notice of Oral Deposition Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) ; denying 156 Defendants Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahomas Motion for Entry of Protective Order; granting in part 164 Stipulation and Joint Motion for Dismissal of Plaintiff United States' Complaint with Prejudice. Signed by Honorable Robin J. Cauthron on 10/17/17. (lg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and
DR. RACHEL TUDOR,
STATE UNIVERSITY and
THE REGIONAL UNIVERSITY
SYSTEM OF OKLAHOMA,
Case No. CIV-15-324-C
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff United States began this Title VII action in March of 2015. Ten days later,
Plaintiff Tudor filed a Complaint in Intervention and was permitted to intervene in the
action. The Complaint raised claims of sex discrimination and retaliation arising under
Title VII. Plaintiff Tudor’s Complaint in Intervention added a hostile work environment
claim. Plaintiffs entered a common interest agreement and have worked closely in
preparing this claim for trial. In August of 2017, Plaintiff United States settled its claims
with Defendants. Plaintiff United States now seeks dismissal from this action. Defendants
agree to Plaintiff United States’ request for dismissal; however, Plaintiff Tudor objects.
Plaintiff Tudor raises four concerns which drive her objection to the request for
dismissal. First, she is concerned that if Plaintiff United States’ claims are dismissed with
prejudice, that dismissal could be construed as a judgment or ruling which precludes the
continued litigation of her mirror claims. In response, both Defendants and Plaintiff United
States acknowledge that their settlement agreement would not have any impact on the
merits of Plaintiff Tudor’s claims. Thus, this argument does not provide a basis to deny
the request for dismissal.
Next Plaintiff Tudor argues that the dismissal of United States may trigger an
election of remedies as to Tudor and her claims. Once again, the Court finds no support
for Plaintiff’s concerns. In the event that Plaintiff prevails at trial in this matter and is
awarded damages, any concern about double recovery or the effect of the settlement can
be addressed at that stage. To the extent Plaintiff seeks prospective relief, any issues related
to such an award may be addressed at the time the issue arises. Delaying dismissal of
Plaintiff United States from this action is not necessary to preserve the appropriate chance
to address those matters.
Next Plaintiff Tudor argues that she should be permitted to continue to use experts
originally retained and designated by Plaintiff United States – Drs. Parker and Brown.
Defendants object, arguing that avoiding the cost of the depositions of those experts was
one of the reason it settled the case with Plaintiff United States. The Court is not persuaded
by Defendants’ arguments. In her witness list, Plaintiff Tudor designated the witnesses
listed by Plaintiff United States which included these expert witnesses.
Defendants did not object to Plaintiff Tudor’s adoption of Plaintiff United States’ expert
witnesses. Additionally, it is apparent from the parties’ briefs that Plaintiff Tudor advised
Defendants of her intent to use these experts and that she was willing to carry forward with
their previously set depositions.
It was Defendants who declined this opportunity.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff Tudor will be permitted to offer into evidence
the expert testimony of Drs. Parker and Brown without regard to the dismissal of Plaintiff
Finally, Plaintiff wishes to have the Court impose certain conditions on Plaintiff
United States, preventing it from making filings or public statements regarding the
settlement. As Plaintiff United States notes, Plaintiff Tudor has failed to offer any legal
authority supporting her request for such a restriction and for this reason that request will
Defendants have also filed a Motion for Protective Order seeking an order from the
Court prohibiting Plaintiff United States and/or Plaintiff Tudor from making any statement
to members of the media regarding the settlement and/or its terms. As the basis for its
request, Defendants argue that absent the requested protective order it is likely the jury
pool will be irrevocably tainted by media coverage of the Plaintiff United States’ resolution
of the case.
Defendants’ request will be denied. First, Defendants have failed to overcome the
presumption attached to the openness of court filings. While in certain instances, parties
may agree to a confidential settlement agreement, that is typically a matter of contract
between the parties. As the parties here could not reach agreement on those terms, the
general right of publicity attaching to court proceedings governs. Further, the Court finds
that appropriate voir dire and instruction from the Court will eliminate any issues of bias
or prejudice arising from pretrial coverage. Accordingly, Defendants’ request for a
protective order will be denied.
For the reasons set forth herein, the Stipulation and Joint Motion for Dismissal of
Plaintiff United States’ Complaint with Prejudice (Dkt. No. 164) is GRANTED IN PART.
All claims brought by Plaintiff United States against Defendants are dismissed with
prejudice. However, Plaintiff Tudor may offer as evidence in this case the expert opinions
and reports of Drs. Parker and Brown.
Defendants Southeastern Oklahoma State
University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma’s Motion for Entry of
Protective Order (Dkt. No. 156) is DENIED. United States’ Motion to Compel Production
of ESI Withheld on the Basis of Privilege (Dkt. No. 146) and Defendants Southeastern
Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma’s Motion to
Partially Quash Plaintiff’s Second Amended Notice of Oral Deposition Under
Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) (Dkt. No. 149) are STRICKEN AS MOOT.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 17th day of October, 2017.
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