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Washington v. Thurgood Marshall Academy

July 20, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge


This case has been referred to me by Judge Kollar-Kotelly pursuant to LCvR 72.2(a) in order to resolve several discovery motions. Four motions are now ripe and ready for resolution. For the reasons stated herein, plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendant to Answer Interrogatories and Produce Documents and for Sanctions [#28/29/30] ("Pl.'s Mot. to Comp.") is stricken; defendant's Motion to Quash the Subpoenas Issued to End-to-End Solutions and D.C. Public Schools [#33] ("Def.'s Mot. to Quash End-to-End") and Motion to Quash the Subpoena That Was Issued to the District of Columbia Government Office of Unemployment Compensation [#34] ("Def's Mot. to Quash Unemployment") are granted in part and denied in part; and plaintiff's Motion to Quash and for a Protective Order Regarding Three Notices of Depositions and Subpoenas Regarding the Production of Documents [#37/40] ("Pl.'s Mot. to Quash") is granted in part and denied in part.


Plaintiff, Jessica Washington, brings this action against her former employer, Thurgood Marshall Academy ("TMA"), alleging breach of her employment contract, misrepresentation, wrongful discharge, and retaliation. Complaint ¶ 2. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that TMA unilaterally modified the nature and extent of her job duties inconsistent with TMA's pre-contract representations and terminated her from her position without cause. Id. ¶ 48, 56. Furthermore, plaintiff alleges that TMA terminated her due to her advocacy on behalf of students and parents regarding their rights under federal laws governing the school. Id. ¶ 72.

From 2001 to 2002, plaintiff worked as the Special Education Coordinator for Friendship Edison Collegiate Academy. Plaintiff found that this position gave her little time to spend with her young daughter. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff responded to an advertisement by TMA in the Washington Post for a teaching position and, after negotiations, received a job offer and accepted. Id. ¶ 10-17.

Plaintiff contends that, over time, TMA increased and expanded her duties beyond what was agreed upon and that TMA was not complying with requirements under federal IDEA laws. Id. ¶ 23-25. At a meeting with TMA officials, plaintiff asked for an increase in her salary commensurate with her new responsibilities. Id. ¶ 25. On December 20, 2002, approximately six weeks after Washington met with TMA officials, she again met with a TMA official who told her that TMA would not increase her salary and that, if she did not resign, she would be terminated. Washington stated that she would not resign unless given her salary for the next ninety days, which TMA refused to do, and she was then terminated. Id. ¶ 32-33.

Washington applied for unemployment compensation in the District of Columbia, and despite TMA's objections that she had voluntarily resigned, she was awarded unemployment benefits. Id. ¶ 36-37.

On January 26, 2005, plaintiff issued a subpoena duces tecum to the D.C. Office of Unemployment Compensation and, on January 28, 2005, issued subpoenas duces tecum to Endto-End Solutions for Public Education and D.C. Public Schools. On February 9, 2005, defendant filed motions to quash these subpoenas.

On February 1, 2005, defendant issued subpoenas and Notices of Records Depositions to the Law Office of Donovan W. Anderson, Woodland Job Corporation, and Friendship Edison Collegiate Academy. These entities are plaintiff's recent employers both before and after TMA. On February 22, 2005, plaintiff filed a motion to quash these subpoenas and a motion for a protective order.


I. Legal Standard

In general, a party is entitled to discover information if the information sought appears "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Additionally, a party may discover information that is not privileged and "is relevant to the claim or defense of any party." Id. Relevance for discovery purposes is broadly construed. See, e.g., Burlington Ins. Co. v. Okie Dokie, Inc., 368 F. Supp. 2d 83, 86 (D.D.C. 2005) (citations omitted).

When moving for a protective order to limit discovery, the movant must establish good cause "by demonstrating the specific evidence of the harm that would result." Jennings v. Family Management, 201 F.R.D. 272, 275 (D.D.C. 2001). The burden is on the movant to establish that a protective order should be granted, Fonville v. District of Columbia, No. CIV. A.02-2353, 2005 WL 1244816, at *1 (D.D.C. May 25, 2005), or that a subpoena duces tecum should be quashed, U.S. v. Intern. Bus. Mach. Corp, 83 F.R.D. 97, 104 (S.D.N.Y. 1979) (citations omitted). Furthermore, a party seeking a protective order prohibiting deposition testimony or document production must establish good cause and a specific need for protection, as opposed to simply making conclusory or speculative statements. Alexander, 186 F.R.D. at 75 (citations omitted).*fn1

"The moving party has a heavy burden of showing 'extraordinary circumstances' based on 'specific facts' that would justify such an order." Id.

A party generally lacks standing to challenge a subpoena issued to a third party absent a claim of privilege, proprietary interest, or personal interest in the subpoenaed matter. United States v. Nachamie, 91 F. Supp. 2d 552, 559 (S.D.N.Y 2000) (citations omitted); Chiperas v. Rubin, No. CIV.A.96-130, 1998 WL 765126, at *2 (D.D.C. Nov. 3, 1998) (citations omitted). A motion to quash, or for a protective order, should generally be made by the person from whom the documents or ...

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