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Shakerdge v. Tradition Financial Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 19, 2017

JO LAYLA SHAKERDGE, Plaintiff,
v.
TRADITION FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., TFS ENERGY LLC, Defendants.

          RULING ON DISCOVERY DISPUTES CONCERNING PRIVILEGED MATERIAL

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Jo Layla Shakerdge (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit alleging that her former employer, Tradition Financial Services, Inc. and TFS Energy, LLC (together, “TFS” or “Defendants”), discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and retaliated against her for filing a civil rights complaint. On August 18, 2017, the parties jointly requested a discovery conference to address several outstanding issues and objections regarding discovery. Joint Mot. for Discovery Conference, ECF 40 (“Joint Mot.”). The Court held oral argument on September 19, 2017, Minute Entry, ECF No. 45, but did not resolve whether Ms. Shakerdge must comply with Defendants' request for information about any mental health care.

         For the reasons stated below, Defendants' request is GRANTED with respect to the names of providers and dates of visits and DENIED as to other information sought.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Defendants previously employed Shakerdge as an energy commodities broker. See Ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 46 at 1. She alleges that “crassness and bias . . . pervaded” the trading floor, and filed this lawsuit alleging that TFS discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and in violation of both Title VII and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA). Amend. Compl. at ¶ 114-120. She also alleges that TFS retaliated against her for engaging in protected activity under Title VII and CFEPA. Id. at ¶ 121-127. On September 26, 2017, the Court denied Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. See Ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 46.

         As part of the discovery process, Defendants submitted two interrogatories and two requests for production that are at issue here. The parties now request that the Court resolve a discovery dispute regarding provision of certain mental health records. See Joint Mot. at 1-2.

         In Defendants' Interrogatory 4, TFS sought information about the name, address, and telephone number of “each and every doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or other mental health care provider with whom you have treated in the past ten (10) years for any mental or emotional condition, or physical symptom related to a mental or emotional condition.” Pl. Response to Defs. First Set of Interrogatories, Defs. Supplemental Br., Ex. A, ECF No. 43-1 at 3 (“Defs. Discovery Requests”). The interrogatory also requests that Plaintiff identify the purpose of each interaction, the physical location of the medical records and whether “any written report or memorandum was prepared relative to the consultation, examination and/or treatment.” Id.

         In Defendants' Interrogatory 5, TFS sought information about the name, address, and telephone number of “each and every expert, doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or health care professional with whom you treated” for care “in connection with any emotional or physical distress. . . .” Id. at 4. Like Interrogatory 4, the interrogatory seeks information about the purpose of the visit or treatment, the physical location of the medical records, and whether any written report was produced as a result. Id.

         Defendants also submitted two related requests for production. See Defs. Discovery Requests at 10 (detailing Defendants' Requests 37 and 38). First, Defendants sought production of “any and all documents substantiating, relating or referring to any treatment you have received from, or consultations you have had with any physicians, surgeons, therapists, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors or anyone else, relating to any mental or emotional care you have received.” Id. Additionally, Defendants requested that Plaintiff sign a “release for each of the doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or other mental health care provider with whom you have treated or consulted as identified in Interrogatory Nos. 4 and 5 . . .” Id.

         Ms. Shakerdge objected to each of these requests, arguing that the information Defendants sought was protected by the federal psychotherapist-client privilege. The joint motion followed.

         II. Discussion

         Defendants, in essence, seek two distinct types of information related to Plaintiff's mental health care: the names of health care providers and dates of visits, and information based on confidential communication between those providers and Ms. Shakerdge in the form of reports, the purposes of visits, and other records. Ms. Shakerdge raises two objections. First, she argues that the information is privileged and therefore exempt from disclosure. Second, she argues that, to the extent that detailing names of providers and the dates of visits is not shielded from disclosure, both are not relevant to her claim for garden variety damages.

         The Court agrees with Ms. Shakerdge, in part. The law on privilege shields from disclosure confidential communications between mental health care providers and their clients, and Ms. Shakerdge has not waived that privilege. The names of those providers, however, and dates of visits do not fall within the privilege and therefore must be disclosed.

         A. Communications With Providers Within The ...


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