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Mohammad Javad Hajjar-Nejad v. the George Washington University

May 9, 2012

MOHAMMAD JAVAD HAJJAR-NEJAD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Discovery in this case has been painful and, although the deadline for discovery has come and gone, there remains a series of motions that must be resolved. I shall address them seriatim and in the order filed.

1. The George Washington University's Motion to Compel, and for an Award of Costs, Including Reasonable Attorneys' Fees, and For Sanctions [#62]

I previously ordered that plaintiff fully respond to the defendant's, The George Washington University's ("GWU"), document requests and interrogatories in my Discovery Order [#65] of March 7, 2012 and put off ruling on the motions for costs sanctions until now.

Initially, plaintiff who proceeds pro se, insisted that he be permitted to take all his depositions before GWU be permitted to take its depositions, including plaintiff's and that the depositions be taken in Germantown, Maryland. Upon this Court's intervention, however, the depositions were taken in this courthouse. Accordingly, it appears that this aspect of GWU's motion is moot. I appreciate, however, that GWU seeks fees and costs for plaintiff's failure to attend his own deposition when it was noticed because of his insistence that he be permitted to take his depositions first. In accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 (d)(3),*fn1 I must therefore order that plaintiff show cause why he should not be required to pay the reasonable expenses caused by his not appearing at his deposition.

2. Plaintiff's Request for Relief Notice [#73]

Plaintiff protests that his deposition consumed the full permissible seven hours but the videographer indicated that the deposition had only consumed five and one half hours. The George Washington University's Consolidated Motion for a Protective Order and to Quash Plaintiff's Subpoena Duces Tecum to Jeffrey Akman, M.D., to Compel Plaintiff to Provide Further Deposition Testimony, Sanctioning Plaintiff for Leaving His Deposition Before It Was Over and Opposition to Plaintiff's Request for Relief Notice [#74-10] at 4-5. In the absence of any reason to believe that the videographer was mistaken, GWU correctly points out that it will be entitled to consume the seven hours contemplated by the Rule. Plaintiff's Request for Relief will be denied and his deposition will be allowed continue for another one and one half hours.

3. The George Washington University's Consolidated Motion for a Protective Order and to Quash Plaintiff's Subpoena Duces Tecum to Jeffrey Akman, M.D., to Compel Plaintiff to Provide Further Deposition Testimony, Sanctioning Plaintiff for Leaving His Deposition Before It Was Over and Opposition to Plaintiff's Request for Relief Notice [#74] Plaintiff has demanded that GWU produce "any and all documents pertaining to GWU

Medical School's probationary status placed by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) on or about October 15, 2008 for "reasons seriously compromising the quality of the MD program." [#74] at 4 (quoting Plaintiff's Request for Documents No. 3).

On March 14, 2012, plaintiff delivered a subpoena to Jeffrey Akman, M.D., GWU's Interim Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, School of Medicine and Health Services requiring him to produce at his deposition the same information. [#74] at 5. GWU seeks to quash that subpoena and a protective order against having to produce these documents.

First, as to the subpoena, the documents at issue were created either by the LCME or GWU and belong to them. They certainly do not belong to Dr. Akman who is employed by GWU. A subpoena served upon an employee of an organization cannot require that employee to remove his employer's property, such as the documents in its files, and produce it at a deposition. Ghawanmeh v. Islamic Saudi Academy, 274 F.R.D. 329, 332-333 (D.D.C. 2011). The only proper means to secure the documents is by serving the subpoena upon the employing organization itself, which plaintiff has done. Id. Thus, the motion to quash the subpoena will be granted.

Second, as to the documents, there is absolutely no showing whatsoever that would permit anyone to infer that the probation*fn2 was imposed because of GWU's discriminating against its employees or students on the basis of race or national origin. The documents therefore fail to meet the most fundamental requirement of discovery, that the information sought is relevant or likely to lead to relevant information. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Instead, as I read plaintiff's papers, he seems to believe that he is on a mission to explore how GWU conducts all of its operations. He does not have that right and his attempt to do so is improper.

With regards to GWU's motion to compel plaintiff to sit for an additional one and one half hours and for sanctions for leaving his deposition early, I shall grant the motion to compel as ...


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