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Metcalf v. Yale University

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 15, 2017

WILLIAM METCALF, Plaintiff,
v.
YALE UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL

          Victor A. Bolden United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, William Metcalf, brings claims against the Defendant, Yale University (“Yale”), alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 623, and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(a). Before Mr. Metcalf's termination on August 29, 2014, he was employed by Yale University and the Yale University Art Gallery.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery. ECF No. 33. Mr. Metcalf's motion requests the production of all documents relating to certain cases or matters of “Yale University Reports of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct for the period August 29, 2012 through and including August 29, 2014.” Pl.'s Br. at 1, ECF No. 33. Yale objects to the production of these documents on various grounds. Def.'s Br., ECF No. 36. The Court held oral argument on this motion on February 10, 2017. ECF No. 40. For the reasons that follow, Mr. Metcalf's motion to compel is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         Specifically, as discussed during the oral argument, Yale shall produce the documents requested by Mr. Metcalf, but only documents maintained by Yale's Title IX office and that are related to the following cases, as listed in the Affidavit of Jason Killheffer (“Killheffer Affidavit”): in paragraph 16, the cases numbered 2, 4, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, and 26; and in paragraph 17, the cases numbered 1, 2, 3, 6, 7. See Killheffer Aff. ¶¶ 16-17, ECF No. 37. Production under this Order shall also be subject to the following limitations to protect the privacy of the individuals involved in each complaint: (1) any information produced in relation to Mr. Metcalf's motion to compel must have names or other identifiers of the parties redacted, instead, each party should be assigned anonymous numbers instead of being referred to by name; (2) this discovery shall be limited to “Attorneys Eyes Only, ” with no disclosure permitted to any other person, including Mr. Metcalf; (3) Mr. Metcalf's counsel shall make no effort to identify or interview any of the parties involved. The parties shall also confer to draft a Protective Order outlining these requirements and further providing that if any of the parties wish to include documents produced under this Order as part of any future filing submitted to the Court, the documents should be filed under seal. In light of these safeguards, the Court does not believe that in camera review of the relevant documents is necessary.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Mr. Metcalf alleges that he was previously employed for more than twelve years as a Curator of Coins and Medals at the Yale University Art Gallery and as an Adjunct Professor in the Classics Department at Yale University. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. His employment at Yale was allegedly terminated on August 29, 2014. Id. At the time of his termination, Mr. Metcalf was 66 years old. Id. ¶ 25. He alleges that, through his termination, Yale violated the ADEA and CFEPA. Id. ¶ 1.

         On August 29, 2014, Mr. Metcalf alleges that two Yale employees presented him with a letter that summarily terminated his employment. Compl. ¶¶ 17-18. The letter described reasons for terminating Mr. Metcalf, reasons that he alleges are “falsehood, exaggerations, and mischaracterizations.” Id. ¶ 19. Specifically, the letter cited “an inadvertent mistake” on his part, where he “mistakenly enter[ed] a wrong bathroom and then immediately turn[ed] around and le[ft], ” as well as Mr. Metcalf's alleged use “of offensive language and profanity” Id.

         Mr. Metcalf alleges that he eventually learned that, in terminating him, Yale may have discriminated against him on the basis of his age. Compl. ¶ 23. Mr. Metcalf allegedly learned that a Yale Art Gallery employee who had allegedly been the decision-maker in his termination, Jock Reynolds, had informed a third party that “Mr. Metcalf would be much happier retired, ” that “[Mr. Metcalf] is getting old. He is declining physically and mentally, ” and that he was a “curmudgeon.” Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Mr. Metcalf alleges that numerous younger professors and staff at Yale have “used language such as Mr. Metcalf was accused of using” or have “made the mistake of entering an incorrect bathroom, ” but have not been disciplined or terminated. Id. ¶ 26.

         A. Motion to Compel

         Mr. Metcalf's motion to compel concerns Plaintiff's Request #11 of his First Set of Requests to Produce (“Request 11”). Pl.'s Br. at 1. Specifically, Request 11 asks Yale to:

Please produce (subject to protective order) all documents relating to the unredacted cases or matters as identified in the attached Exhibit 1, consisting of redacted Yale University Reports of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct for the period August 29, 2012 through and including August 29, 2014.

Id. Yale argues, first, that Exhibit 1, which Request 11 refers to, purports to list fourteen different cases that Mr. Metcalf extracted from Yale's Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct, but that the list is “duplicative” and contains two sets of the “same seven cases, ” including Mr. Metcalf's own case, which is listed twice. Def.'s Br. at 1-2. Yale also notes that Mr. Metcalf has “now added to his request a total of 26 cases, ” some of which were also originally listed in Exhibit 1, which means that Mr. Metcalf is now requesting to review files for “29 separate cases.” Id. at 2. Yale opposes the disclosure of these documents on various grounds, including that the documents are highly sensitive and relate to persons who are not parties to this action. Id.

         At oral argument, ECF No. 40, Mr. Metcalf notified the Court that he is only seeking the production of documents related to the following cases, as listed in the Killheffer Affidavit: in paragraph 16, the cases numbered 2, 4, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, and 26; and in paragraph 17, the cases numbered 1, 2, 3, 6, 7. See Killheffer Aff. ¶¶ 16-17. Mr. Metcalf also agreed that the production could be limited to the documents maintained by Yale's Title IX office, so that Yale would not need to conduct an electronic search to produce the documents.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), the 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The Court has broad discretion in deciding a motion to compel discovery. Grand Cent. P'ship. Inc. v. Cuomo, 166 F.3d 473, 488 (2d Cir. 1999) (“We will not disturb a district court's ruling on a motion to compel discovery unless there is a clear showing of abuse of discretion.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Furthermore, the “party resisting discovery bears the burden of showing why discovery should be denied.” Cole v. Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009).

         Yale argues that Mr. Metcalf's motion to compel should be denied for various reasons. First, the documents Mr. Metcalf requests allegedly do not concern similarly situated employees that can serve as potential comparators for his employment discrimination claims. Def.'s Br. at 7-11. Second, the information sought in Request 11 may be protected from disclosure by the Federal Educational and Privacy Rights Act (“FERPA”), 20 ...


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