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Metcalf v. Yale University

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 27, 2017




         William Metcalf (“Mr. Metcalf” or “Plaintiff”) has filed a Complaint against his former employer, Yale University (“Yale”), alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq., and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60 et seq. See generally Am. Compl., ECF No. 27.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), Yale has moved for a protective order to prevent Mr. Metcalf from deposing and obtaining mental health records from Richard Yun, MD, Amy Cheng, PhD, and Michael Rigsby, MD, concerning their treatment of another Yale employee (“Yale employee”), a non-party to this litigation. ECF No. 53.

         For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 29, 2014, Yale ended Mr. Metcalf's employment as Curator of Coins and Medals of the Yale University Art Gallery. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-18. Mr. Metcalf alleges that the termination letter, presented by Jock Reynolds, the Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, contained “falsehoods, exaggerations and mischaracterizations” of his behavior during his employment, specifically that he had entered the women's bathroom and used offensive language in the workplace. Id. at ¶17-19.

         Mr. Metcalf has issued subpoenas and notices of deposition for Dr. Yun, a psychiatrist, Dr. Cheng, a psychologist, and Dr. Rigsby, an internist, requesting medical records related to their treatment of Yale employee since 2009.[1] Def.'s Br. at 2, No. 52-1. Yale employee, Mr. Metcalf's former assistant, spoke with Mr. Reynolds and a Human Resources representative, who were conducting an investigation in response to a report that Mr. Metcalf allegedly had entered the women's bathroom. Id. During this meeting, Yale employee allegedly discussed Mr. Metcalf's history of inappropriate behavior towards her and she allegedly informed Mr. Reynolds that, as a result of this behavior, she was being treated by a psychiatrist and taking medication for emotional distress. Id. It is alleged that Mr. Reynolds based his decision to terminate Mr. Metcalf, in part, on Yale employee allegedly reporting that Mr. Metcalf had caused Yale employee emotional distress. Id.

         Mr. Reynolds and Yale employee have been deposed, and the subpoenas at issue were issued in response to Yale employee's refusal to answer certain questions, while being deposed concerning her treatment by Dr. Yun. Pl.'s Opp. Br. at 3, ECF No. 62. Dr. Yun, Dr. Cheng, and Dr. Rigsby have moved for a protective order preventing Mr. Metcalf from obtaining medical records from them concerning their treatment of Yale employee.


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1), “[a] person for whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending . . . . The 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). Where the discovery sought is relevant, the party seeking protection bears the burden of showing that good cause exists to grant the motion. Penthouse Int'l, Ltd. v. Playboy Enters., Inc., 663 F.2d 371, 391 (2d Cir. 1981) (citations omitted); Gambale v. Deutsche Bank AG, 377 F.3d 133, 142 (2d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). Under Rule 45(d)(3)(A), a court is required to quash or modify a subpoena if it “requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter and no exception or waiver applies.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A)(iii).


         Yale asserts that Yale employee's treatment records are not discoverable and that the records sought are not relevant to any party's claim or defense as required under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Def.'s Br. at 3. Yale also contends that the medical records pertaining to Yale employee's treatment are protected from disclosure under federal law, since Yale employee has not authorized their disclosure. Id. Mr. Metcalf argues that Yale employee's medical and psychological treatment are discoverable since her medical condition was allegedly a significant factor in Mr. Reynolds's decision to terminate Mr. Metcalf. Pl.'s Opp. Br. at 4. Mr. Metcalf further asserts that Yale employee has waived her privilege by discussing her medical condition with Mr. Reynolds while being deposed. Id. at 7. The Court disagrees and will address each argument in turn.

         The scope of discovery, unless limited by court order, includes:

[A]ny 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 ...

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