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Trella v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 7, 2017




         On November 3, 2017, Dr. Stephen A. Eige filed a Motion for Protective Order, seeking an order delaying his deposition until after the resolution of two motions to remand to state court. [Doc. #87]. Defendants/Third Party Plaintiffs Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores East I, L.P. (collectively, “Wal-Mart”) have filed an objection to Dr. Eige's Motion for Protective Order, and Dr. Eige filed a reply. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Dr. Eige's Motion for Protective Order.

         Plaintiff filed this action on July 23, 2015, in Connecticut Superior Court, alleging that she was injured in an accident at a Wal-Mart store. See Doc. #1 at 2.[1] On August 11, 2015, Wal-Mart removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Id. at 4.

         On June 6, 2016, Wal-Mart filed a Third Party Complaint against Middlesex Health System, Inc., d/b/a Middlesex Hospital (“Middlesex Hospital”) alleging that on the date of the alleged accident at the Wal-Mart store, plaintiff fell off a hospital bed or gurney while receiving care at Middlesex Hospital. See Doc. #21 at 2. Wal-Mart alleges that Middlesex Hospital's negligence caused or contributed to plaintiff's injuries, and requests that Middlesex Hospital be held proportionally liable for any damages awarded to plaintiff. See Id. at 3-4.

         Middlesex Hospital and plaintiff have both filed motions to remand to state court, which remain pending. See Doc. ##64, 67. Plaintiff has also filed a medical malpractice claim against multiple defendants, including Middlesex Hospital and Dr. Eige, in Connecticut Superior Court. See Doc. #87 at 1.

         In July 2017, Wal-Mart noticed the depositions of fact witnesses to the alleged fall at Middlesex Hospital, including Dr. Eige. See Doc. #80 at 2. Wal-Mart initially noticed Dr. Eige's deposition on July 5, 2017, for a deposition to occur on September 6, 2017. Id. At the request of counsel for Middlesex Hospital, and based on representations by counsel for Dr. Eige that he was unavailable, the September 6, 2017, deposition was postponed. See Id. at 22-23. Counsel for Wal-Mart sent e-mails seeking other potential deposition dates on September 1, 18, and 27, 2017. Id. at 2-3.

         On October 11, 2017, Wal-Mart re-noticed the deposition of Dr. Eige for Thursday, November 9, 2017. See Doc. #79 at 5. On that same date, Wal-Mart also filed a Motion to Compel Dr. Eige's deposition. See Id. On November 2, 2017, having received no objection to Wal-Mart's motion, the Court granted Wal-Mart's Motion to Compel Dr. Eige's deposition. See Doc. #86. On November 3, 2017, Dr. Eige filed, for the first time, a Motion for Protective Order.


         Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:

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, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “[T]he scope of discovery under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) is very broad, ‘encompass[ing] any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case.'” Maresco v. Evans Chemetics, Div. of W.R. Grace & Co., 964 F.2d 106, 114 (2d Cir. 1992) (quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351, (1978)). “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).

         Pursuant to Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). “Rule 26(c) confers broad discretion on the trial court to decide when a protective order is appropriate and what degree of protection is required.” Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 36 (1984). “That said, a court may issue a protective order only after the moving party demonstrates good cause.” Joseph L. v. Conn. Dept of Children & Families, 225 F.R.D. 400, 402 (D. Conn. 2005); see also Dove v. Atl. Capital Corp., 963 F.2d 15, 19 (2d Cir. 1992).

         “To establish good cause under Rule 26(c), courts require a particular and specific demonstration of fact, as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements.” Jerolimo v. Physicians for Women, P.C., 238 F.R.D. 354, 356 (D. Conn. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Good cause exists when allowing the discovery sought will result in a “clearly defined and serious injury to the party seeking the protective order.” Bernstein v. Mafcote, Inc., 43 F.Supp.3d 109, 113 (D. Conn. 2014)(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated reasoning, are insufficient for a good cause showing.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Rule 26(c)(1) requires any motion for protective order to “include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action.” ...

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