United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
TANYA M. BURT, Plaintiff,
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Motion to Compel
(ECF No. 17). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
case stems from the termination of Plaintiff s employment as
a Human Resources Director for Defendant Charter
Communications, Inc. ("Charter") in the Spectrum
Reach Business Unit. (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 8, ECF No. 1)
Plaintiff alleges that she submitted a leave request under
the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29
U.S.C. §§ 2601, et seq., to care for her
cancer-stricken husband in the last weeks of his life.
(Id. at ¶¶ 10-12) She submitted another
FMLA leave request the following year after experiencing
emotional difficulties. (Id. at ¶¶I9-20)
Plaintiff alleges that when she returned from leave, her
supervisor was hostile toward Plaintiff. (Id. at
¶¶ 14-17, 21-22) Plaintiff complained about this
treatment but alleges that Defendant did not investigate the
retaliation complaint or take any corrective action.
(Id. at ¶¶ 23-24) On January 13, 2016,
Defendant terminated Plaintiffs employment, citing an
investigation into complaints lodged against Plaintiff by her
staff. (Id. at ¶ 25) Plaintiff asserts that she
was never advised about performance problems or any
investigation. (Id. at ¶ 27) She also claims
that men in senior positions received complaints from
co-workers, but Defendant took no corrective action, nor did
it terminate their employment. (Id. at ¶¶
October 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging
discrimination and retaliation under the FMLA; discrimination
under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"),
42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.; and
discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act
("MHRA"), Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 213.010,
et seq. On July 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion
to compel Defendant's complete responses to Plaintiffs
First Request for Production of Documents numbers 3, 7
through 9, 12 through 15, and 18, as well as answers to
Interrogatory number 8. (ECF No. 17) Defendant opposes the
motion, arguing that it has already produced a significant
amount of documentation which disproves Plaintiffs claims and
legal theories. In addition, Defendant contends that the
remaining portions of the requested materials are irrelevant
scope of discovery for actions filed in federal court is set
forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26. That rule
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 rule vests the district
court with discretion to limit discovery if it determines,
inter alia, the burden or expense of the proposed discovery
outweighs its likely benefit." Roberts v. Shawnee
Mission Ford, Inc., 352 F.3d 358, 361 (8th Cir. 2003)
(citing Fed. R Civ. P. 26(b)(1)).
Personnel File of Lisa Rice
seeks the personnel file for Plaintiffs supervisor, Lisa
Rice. Specifically, Request for Production number 9 asks
Defendant to "produce the following documents relating
to Ms. Rice for the time period January 1, 2012 to January 1,
2017: complaints, emails or notes discussing those
complaints, performance reviews, any investigation file
documents, incident investigation reports, ethics points
summaries, and investigation summary reports." (ECF No.
18) Defendant asserts that it has provided Plaintiff with
eight pages of complaints and ethics points summaries, which
represents the entirety of the relevant, non-privileged
documents. Defendant contends that any documents pertaining
to Ms. Rice's work performance, salary information, and
other, private information in her file is not relevant to the
present lawsuit. However, Plaintiff maintains that she is
only seeking complaints regarding Ms. Rice in the form of
emails or notes, or any performance reviews regarding Ms.
Rice. Plaintiff claims that her request does not include
salary information or other private information.
Court finds that information regarding complaints,
performance reviews, or investigations of Ms. Rice is
relevant to Plaintiffs claim because Ms. Rice supervised
Plaintiff and recommended Plaintiffs
termination. Lyoch v. Anheuser-Busch Cos.,
Inc., 164 F.R.D. 62, 69 (E.D. Mo. 1995) (finding that
information contained in the personnel file of plaintiff s
supervisor "may be relevant to [p]laintiff s claim and
is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
admissible evidence" in employment discrimination case);
see also Moss v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of
Kansas, Inc., 241 F.R.D. 683, 698 (D. Kan. 2007)
(finding personnel files of those plaintiff alleged were
involved in the decision to terminate plaintiffs employment
in an FMLA retaliation suit were relevant and discoverable).
Thus, the Court will order Defendant to produce documents
responsive to Plaintiffs request for production, including
all complaints, emails or notes pertaining to those
complaints, and performance evaluations pertaining to Ms.
Rice. The Court notes that it previously entered a Consent
Protective Order which should eliminate any privacy concerns.
Lyoch, 164 F.R.D. at 69.
Personnel Files of ...