Patra v. Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, et al
ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: The remaining depositions shall proceed on the existing dates and for the specified time periods as previously agreed upon by the parties and memorialized at ECF No. 56. The deposition of Dr. Petula Vaz will occur on 6/5/2017. The deposition of Dr. Harisadhan Patra will occur on 6/8/2017. The depositions of both Plaintiffs will occur at a location determined by the Defendants within the campus of Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, Pennsylvan ia. The Defendants shall notify Plaintiffs of that designated location as soon as practicable. Plaintiffs have failed to show that the deposition of Dr. Kurt Smith would be relevant to any partys claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case. Accordingly, that deposition is disallowed. To the extent necessary, Plaintiffs should communicate with counsel for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in regard to non-party witness issues, if any. The present case management deadlines shall remain in full force and effect. Signed by Honorable Matthew W. Brann on 5/25/2017. (jn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
HARISADHAN PATRA and
PENNSYLVANIA STATE SYSTEM
OF HIGHER EDUCATION, et al.,
MAY 25, 2017
The Court held a telephonic status conference on May 24, 2017 to
address recent correspondence from both parties regarding disputes
about upcoming depositions. ECF Nos. 53, 55.
The deposition schedule was coordinated by Plaintiff’s third (and now
former) counsel of record.
After Plaintiffs terminated that counsel, they independently confirmed
the deposition schedule with counsel for Defendants. ECF No. 56.
“Termination and substitution of counsel does not afford Plaintiff a
tabula rasa from which she may litigate anew. Instead, new counsel
must stand in the shoes of her prior advocates—regardless of how
worn they may be—and pick up where prior counsel left off, in a case
whose scope has largely been settled for at least the past five years.”
Summy-Long v. Pennsylvania State Univ., No. 1:06-CV-1117, 2015
WL 5924505, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 9, 2015) (Brann, J.).
As to the instant dispute, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(d)(1)
provides that a deposition is “limited to 1 day of 7 hours.”
Nevertheless, the Court may impose sanctions, including attorney’s
fees, on any party who “impedes, delays, or frustrates the fair
examination of the deponent.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(d)(2). As discussed
on the status call, this may be the case where vexatious or otherwise
uncooperative conduct results in a deposition of unreasonable length.
Rule 30(d)(3) also provides that the Court may issue a protective
order limiting a deposition’s scope. Rule 26(c) governs the issuance of
such orders and states that the Court “may, for good cause, issue an
order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment,
oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Moreover, it is axiomatic
that “the party seeking discovery must first demonstrate the relevance
before the party seeking a protective order must demonstrate good
cause.” Bell v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 270 F.R.D. 186, 195 (D.N.J.
As to the scope of a deposition, Rule 26(b)(1) provides that the parties
“may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is
relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs
of the case.” Typically, “the fact that a question is repetitive or
irrelevant is not an appropriate ground for instructing a witness not to
answer a question, since it does not involve a matter of privilege.”
Hearst/ABC-Viacom Entm’t Servs. v. Goodway Mktg., Inc., 145
F.R.D. 59, 63 (E.D. Pa. 1992). “The proper procedure to follow when
an objection is raised to a question propounded in a deposition is for
the attorney who raises the objection to note his objection but to allow
the question to be answered.” Id.
In addition, under Rule 37(a)(3)(B)(i), a party may file a motion to
compel responses to questions that a deponent failed to answer. A
court may deny a motion to compel if it “determines that the questions
are irrelevant.” Commercial Union Ins. Co. v. Westrope, 730 F.2d
729, 732 (11th Cir. 1984); Alexander v. F.B.I., 192 F.R.D. 23 (D.D.C.
2000); Fowkes v. Dravo Corp., 7 F.R.D. 291 (E.D. Pa. 1947). Thus,
the Court enjoys “broad discretion” to deny a motion to compel that is
“unnecessarily burdensome and overly broad.” Doe v. Presiding
Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 837 F. Supp.
2d 1145, 1157 (D. Idaho 2011) (quoting Sorosky v. Burroughs Corp.,
826 F.2d 794, 805 (9th Cir.1987)).
Regarding production of physical documents, Rule 45(a)(C) explains
that “[a] command to produce documents, electronically stored
information, or tangible things or to permit the inspection of premises
may be included in a subpoena commanding attendance at a
deposition.” However, that same rule states that the Court must quash
a subpoena that “subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
45(d)(3)(A)(iv). “To determine whether a subpoena imposes an undue
burden, the Court must consider (1) the relevance of the information
requested; (2) the need of the party for the documents; (3) the breadth
of the document request; (4) the time period covered by the request;
(5) the particularity with which the party describes the requested
documents; and (6) the burden imposed.” In re Domestic Drywall
Antitrust Litig., 300 F.R.D. 234, 252 (E.D. Pa. 2014) (Baylson, J.).
“It is well established that the scope and conduct of discovery are
within the sound discretion of the trial court . . . and that after final
judgment of the district court . . . our review is confined to
determining if that discretion has been abused.” MarroquinManriquez v. I.N.S., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983) (Aldisert, J.).
“To find such abuse it is usually necessary to conclude that there has
been an interference with a substantial right . . . or that the discovery
ruling is seen to be a gross abuse of discretion resulting in
fundamental unfairness in the trial of the case.” Id. Thus, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has forewarned litigants
that it “will not interfere with a trial court’s control of its docket
except upon the clearest showing that the procedures have resulted in
actual and substantial prejudice to the complaining litigant.” In re
Fine Paper Antitrust Litig., 685 F.2d 810, 817–18 (3d Cir. 1982)
“Discovery need not be perfect, but discovery must be fair.”
Boeynaems v. LA Fitness Int’l, LLC, 285 F.R.D. 331, 333 (E.D. Pa.
2012) (Baylson, J.). “The responses sought must comport with the
traditional notions of relevancy and must not impose an undue burden
on the responding party.” Hicks v. Arthur, 159 F.R.D. 468, 470 (E.D.
Pa. 1995). “[T]he scope of [ ] discovery is not without limits.”
Kresefky v. Panasonic Commc’ns & Sys. Co., 169 F.R.D. 54, 64
(D.N.J. 1996). As such, “[d]iscovery should be tailored to the issues
involved in the particular case.” Id.
AND NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
The remaining depositions shall proceed on the existing dates and for
the specified time periods as previously agreed upon by the parties
and memorialized at ECF No. 56.
The deposition of Dr. Petula Vaz will occur on June 5, 2017.
The deposition of Dr. Harisadhan Patra will occur on June 8, 2017.
The depositions of both Plaintiffs will occur at a location determined
by the Defendants within the campus of Bloomsburg University in
Bloomsburg, Columbia County, Pennsylvania. The Defendants shall
notify Plaintiffs of that designated location as soon as practicable.
Plaintiffs have failed to show that the deposition of Dr. Kurt Smith
would be relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to
the needs of the case. Accordingly, that deposition is disallowed.
To the extent necessary, Plaintiffs should communicate with counsel
for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in regard to
non-party witness issues, if any.
The present case management deadlines shall remain in full force and
The Clerk of Court is directed to docket this Order as a
“written opinion,” pursuant to the E-Government Act of 2002.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Matthew W. Brann
Matthew W. Brann
United States District 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?