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Brewster v. North Carolina Department of Secretary of State

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 6, 2019




         This case comes before the court on five discovery motions by pro se plaintiff Dierdra A. Brewster ("plaintiff'): (1) two motions to limit access to plaintiffs medical records (D.E. 19, 21); (2) a motion to limit access to plaintiffs financial and bank records, plaintiffs mother, and, again, plaintiffs medical records (D.E. 25); (3) a motion for extension of time to produce a computation of the damages claimed (D.E. 20); and (4) a motion to redact purportedly confidential information in an exhibit to plaintiffs complaint (D.E. 31). Defendant North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State ("defendant") filed a response in opposition to the motions at D.E. 19 and 21. See Def.'s Mem. (D.E. 24). Plaintiff filed a reply (D.E. 36). For the reasons and on the terms set forth below, the motion for extension (D.E. 20) will be allowed and the remaining motions will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This employment discrimination case was commenced by plaintiff on 7 September 2018. Compl. (D.E. 1). In her complaint and attached exhibits, plaintiff alleges that defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her age and religion, and retaliated against her for filing an earlier Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") complaint. Id. §§ II, III.D; EEOC Inquiry Information (D.E. 1-1) 3. As relief, she seeks recovery of lost wages and benefits, and the "value of emotional distress since 2010," estimated to total $500, 000.00. Stmt. of Claim (D.E. 1-2 at p. 2).

         A Scheduling Order (D.E. 28) was entered on 5 December 2018. Plaintiff filed a motion (D.E. 29) to appeal and amend the Scheduling Order, which was denied. 13 Feb. 2019 Ord. (D.E. 39). The Scheduling Order provides for discovery to close on 30 April 2019. Sch. Ord. ¶ 1.


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enable parties to obtain information by serving requests for discovery on each other, including interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admission. See generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 26-37. Rule 26 provides for a broad scope of discovery:

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, considering the importance of the issues at stake 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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

         The district court has broad discretion in determining relevance for discovery purposes. Seaside Farm, Inc. v. United States, 842 F.3d 853, 860 (4th Cir. 2016); Watson v. Low country Red Cross, 974 F.2d 482, 489 (4th Cir. 1992). The party resisting discovery bears the burden of establishing the legitimacy of its objections. Eramo v. Rolling Stone LLC, 314 F.R.D. 205, 209 (W.D. Va. 2016) ("[T]he party or person resisting discovery, not the party moving to compel discovery, bears the burden of persuasion." (quoting Kinetic Concepts, Inc. v. ConvaTec Inc., 268 F.R.D. 226, 243 (M.D. N.C. 2010))); Brey Corp. v. LQ Mgmt., L.L.C., No. AW-11-cv-00718-AW, 2012 WL 3127023, at *4 (D. Md. 26 Jul. 2012) ("In order to limit the scope of discovery, the 'party resisting discovery bears the burden of showing why [the discovery requests] should not be granted.'" (quoting Clere v. GC Servs., L.P., No. 3:10-cv-00795, 2011 WL 2181176, at *2 (S.D. W.Va.3 June 2011))).

         The court is also authorized to impose appropriate limitations on discovery. Rule 26 provides 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). A party moving for a protective order has the burden of making a particularized showing of why discovery should be denied, and conclusory or generalized statements in the motion fail to meet this burden. Smith v. United Salt Co., No. 1:08CV00053, 2009 WL 2929343, at *5 (W.D. Va. 9 Sept. 2009).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Motions for Limitation of Discovery (D.E. 19, 21, 25)

         As noted, in three of her motions, plaintiff seeks collectively to limit access to her medical records, bank and other financial records, and mother. See D.E. 19, 21, 25. In substance, ...

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