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Benney v. Midwest Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 20, 2018

HEATHER BENNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MIDWEST HEALTH, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL

          HON. KENNETH G. GALE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Quash Subpoenas and for Protective Order. (Doc. 51.) Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In the present action, Plaintiff contends she was formerly employed as Director of Nursing at the Lexington Park facility from December 2012 through September 2015. She alleges she injured her arm, shoulder, and back while assisting a resident of the facility at work in April 2015. This resulting in the filing of a worker's compensation claim. She contends that the terms and conditions of her employment worsened as a result, ultimately leading to the termination of her employment.

         In her federal court Complaint, Plaintiff generally alleges she was subject to disparate treatment, hostile work environment, denial of a reasonable accommodation for her disability, and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111, et seq. (See Doc. 1.) She also alleges workers' compensation retaliatory discharge. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that each of the Defendants[1] was her employer and that all engaged in the unlawful discrimination and retaliation. Defendants generally deny Plaintiff's allegations.

         Plaintiff files the present motion (Doc. 51) requesting the Court enter an Order quashing a third-party subpoena to Plaintiff's current employer and health care providers (Doc. 50). While Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to confer prior to filing the present motion, Plaintiff argues that Defendants failed to provide proper notice of the third-party subpoenas prior to serving them.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standards.

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) states that

[p]arties 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, considering the importance of the issues at state in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         As such, the requested information must be nonprivileged, relevant, and proportional to the needs of the case to be discoverable.

         Discovery relevance is broadly construed. AKH Co., Inc. v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co., 13-2003-JAR-KGG, 2015 WL 4523578, at *2 (D. Kan. July 27, 2015). As such, “discovery should be considered relevant if there is any possibility the information sought may be relevant to the subject matter of the action.” Id. “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) confers broad discretion on the trial court to decide when a protective order is appropriate and what degree of protection is required.” Layne Christensen Co. v. Purolite Co., 271 F.R.D. 240, 244 (D. Kan. 2010) (quoting Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 36 (1984)).

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 governs subpoenas, with section (d) of that Rule relating to “protecting a person subject to a subpoena” as well as “enforcement.” Subsection (d)(1) of the Rule states that

[a] party or attorney responsible for issuing and serving a subpoena must take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena. The court for the district where compliance is required must enforce this duty and impose an appropriate sanction - which may include lost earnings and reasonable attorney's fees - on a party or attorney who fails to comply.

Subsection (d)(2)(B) relates to objections to subpoenas and states that

[a] person commanded to produce documents or tangible things or to permit inspection may serve on the party or attorney designated in the subpoena a written objection to inspecting, copying, testing, or sampling any or all of the materials or to inspecting the premises - or to producing electronically stored information in the form or forms requested. The objection must be served before the earlier of the time specified ...

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