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Byrd v. District of Columbia

June 25, 2009

GARRINA BYRD, ANNETTE BURNS, DEMERA GASKINS, AND CARMEN JEAN-BAPTISTE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alan Kay United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION*fn1

Pending before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Take Depositions [92], Defendant's Opposition [96] and Plaintiffs' Reply [97]. Also pending before the Court is Defendant's Emergency Motion for Protective Order and to Quash Notice of Depositions [93] and Plaintiffs' Opposition [95].*fn2 Upon consideration of the record and memoranda submitted by the parties, for reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Take Depositions is granted, and Defendant's Motion for Emergency Protective Order and to Quash Notice of Depositions is denied-in-part and granted-in-part.

I. Background

Plaintiffs in this case, Garrina Byrd, Annette Burns, Demera Gaskins, and Carmen Jean-Baptiste, are former employees of the Department of Parks and Recreation ("DPR"), who allege that they experienced sexual discrimination and harassment while employed at DPR, and then were terminated as a result of reporting it and/or resisting the sexual harassment. (Pls.' Mem. Supp. Mot. at 1-2.) Plaintiffs allege violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code §§ 2-1401.01 ("DCHRA"), the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and the D.C. Whistleblower Act, D.C. Code §§ 1-615.51. Plaintiffs allege that the sexual harassment occurred and that Defendant "exhibit[ed] a deliberate indifference to the harassment and allow[ed] it to continue." (Id. at 1.)

On March 30, 2009, Plaintiffs moved for leave to take additional depositions over the presumptive ten permitted by Fed. R. Civ. P. 30. (Id. at 3-4.) Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiffs' motion on April 13, 2009, objecting that several of the proposed depositions were cumulative and duplicative. (Def.'s Opp'n at 2-3.) Plaintiffs filed a Reply on April 16, 2009. (Pls.' Reply at 1-3.)

In a separate motion, filed by Defendant on April 6, 2009, Defendant moved for a protective order to prevent Plaintiffs from taking the depositions of Neil Stanley and Neil Albert, arguing that they are high-ranking officials. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. at 2-3.) Defendant also seeks to quash Plaintiffs' Notice of Depositions, claiming that the quantity of depositions and the consecutive days on which they are scheduled are too burdensome. (Id. at 5.) On April 8, 2009, Plaintiffs filed an opposition to Defendant's motion claiming (1) that Defendant had not sufficiently established that Stanley or Albert are high-ranking officials or that they should not be granted a protective order if they are, and (2) that the depositions were scheduled so close together because of an impending discovery deadline and due to the parties' difficulty in determining mutually agreeable times. (Pls.' Opp'n at 9-12.)

II. Legal Standards

In general, "[a] party may . . . depose any person, including a party, without leave of the court . . . ." FED. R. CIV. P. 30(a)(1). The Federal Rules, however, limit parties to ten depositions without leave of the court or stipulation of the parties. FED. R. CIV. P. 30(a)(2)(i). If a party seeks additional depositions without the consent of the other party, "the court must grant leave to the extent consistent with Rule 26(b)(2)." FED. R. CIV. P. 30(a)(2). Rule 26(b)(2) states that courts must limit the depositions if:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;

(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.

FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(2).

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), a party may move for and a court may issue, for good cause, a protective order to protect a party or person from "annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(c). In light of undue burden considerations, courts have recognized the need for protective orders for certain high-ranking officials. See, e.g., Alexander v. FBI, 186 F.R.D. 1, 5 (D.D.C. 1998) (explaining that protective orders should be granted for certain high-ranking officials because they "should not be unduly interrupted or burdened with depositions").

III. Discussion

A. Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Take Depositions in Excess of ...


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