United States District Court, D. Maryland
SHEILA M. MARSHALL Plaintiff,
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER Defendant,
Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge.
matter has been referred to me for discovery disputes and
related scheduling matters. ECF 16. Presently pending is
Defendant University of Maryland Medical Center's
(UMMC's) Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Discovery
Responses and Request for Attorneys' Fees (Motion). ECF
12. The issues have been fully briefed, ECF 12, 12-19, 12-27,
and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, UMMC's Motion
will be granted in part and denied in part.
September 19, 2017, Plaintiff (Marshall) filed suit against
her former employer, UMMC, alleging disability
discrimination, failure to accommodate, retaliation, and
wrongful discharge in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq. (ADA), Maryland's Fair Employment Practices Act,
Md. Ann. Code (1957, 2003 Repl. Vol.) Art. 49B §§
7, 16, and Maryland's common law of wrongful discharge.
ECF 1 ¶ 1. Marshall worked as a Senior Clinical Nurse I
at UMMC from September 10, 2009 through her termination on
April 12, 2017. Id. ¶¶ 5, 7, 10. According
to Marshall, on July 8, 2014, she “sustained an on the
job injury to her back while she was restraining a combative
patient[, ] causing her to become physically impaired.”
Id. ¶ 11. As a result of her injury, Marshall
filed a worker's compensation claim, and also alleges
that she developed: (1) depression due to the pain and
suffering and subsequent lifestyle changes; and (2)
psychiatric trauma stemming from UMMC's
“harassment, increase [sic] manipulation, and
retaliatory behavior . . . .” Id. ¶ 11.
to Marshall, after a “few weeks of absence, ” she
returned to work in the Medical Intermediate Care Unit,
subject to light duty work restrictions ordered by her
doctor. Id. ¶ 12. The Unit's Nurse Manager,
Ruth Borkoski, however, informed Marshall that “she did
not had [sic] a continuous light duty position on the unit,
” and Marshall was transferred to the Bariatric
Surgical Office in a non-nurse position. Id.
Marshall alleges that after “complaining of unwelcoming
behavior by one of her coworkers, ” she was then
reassigned to the Liver Transplant Department
(“LTD”). Id. Marshall alleges that UMMC
subjected her to a hostile work environment upon returning to
work, failed to properly train her for work in the LTD, and
failed to accommodate her medical restrictions. Id.
¶ 13. For instance, Marshall alleges that, despite being
aware that cold temperatures “interfered with [her]
injuries, ” Linda Ridge (the LTD Manager) moved
Marshall's work station “where the air conditioner
would blow directly on [her]” and “intentionally
ignored [Marshall's] request to adjust the temperature.
Id. ¶ 15. Moreover, Marshall contends that, in
September 2015, her orthopedic surgeon prescribed her a
standing desk, ergonomic chair, and a headphone set, but UMMC
failed to provide said equipment for more than six months.
Id. ¶ 16.
on September 28, 2015, Marshall was transferred to a Case
Management Department/Utilization Review position, where
Marshall alleges she continued to be subjected to a hostile
work environment. Id. ¶ 17. According to
Marshall, on May 27, 2016, she was involuntarily placed on
leave until January 13, 2017, when she was cleared to return
to a Nurse Audit position, beginning on February 6, 2017.
Id. ¶¶ 18-19. Prior to returning, however,
Marshall contends that UMMC: (1) informed her that the Nurse
Audit position was no longer available; (2) failed to
identify any other positions that accommodated her medical
restrictions; and (3) involuntarily terminated her on April
12, 2017. Id. ¶ 19. Importantly, Marshall seeks
damages as a result of “mental anguish” allegedly
caused by UMMC. Id. at 9.
now seeks discovery regarding Marshall's medical history.
Specifically, UMMC contends that Marshall placed “her
medical condition at issue in this case” by claiming
that she: (1) is a qualified individual with a disability;
and (2) suffered “mental anguish” because of
UMMC's conduct. ECF 12-1 at 2. UMMC has moved to compel
Responses to its Requests for the Production of Documents,
including medical records, regarding Marshall's entire
medical history from the date of her eighteenth birthday
through the present. Id. Additionally, UMMC contends
that Marshall's answers to certain Interrogatories are
deficient. ECF 12-1 at 10-17.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) permits discovery of
“any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of
the case.” In determining proportionality, the Court
must consider “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
Motion seeks information that can be categorized into two
general categories: (1) Marshall's medical history; or
(2) other allegations contained in the Complaint, including
damages, Marshall's income, and the identification of
persons with knowledge of the facts alleged. ECF 12-1 at
10-18. With respect to the second category of requests,
Marshall has agreed to supplement some of her responses.
See ECF 12-19 at 10-15 (agreeing to supplement her
Answers to Interrogatories 1 and 2, but not Interrogatories
16 and 17). Thus, the crux of the pending dispute
revolves around the scope of Marshall's obligation to
produce information relating to her medical history. Despite
initially agreeing to provide the requested medical
information (See ECF 12-4 at 2 (Counsel for Marshall
stating that, though he believed UMMC's requests for
medical information should be narrowed, “rather than
risk offending the rules, we'll provide the requested
information . . . .”)), Marshall now objects on the
grounds that: (1) UMMC's Motion is untimely; (2) not all
of the requested documents are within her possession; and (3)
UMMC's request for “any and all” medical
records dating back to her eighteenth birthday is excessive
and seeks privileged documents not relevant to the pending
litigation, ECF 12-19 at 7-19.
UMMC's Motion is Timely
initial matter, Marshall's argument that UMMC's
Motion is untimely is without merit. Pursuant to the Local
Rules, if “a party who has propounded [discovery
requests] is dissatisfied with the response to them and has
been unable to resolve informally . . . any disputes with the
responding party, that party shall serve a motion to compel
within thirty (30) days of that party's receipt of the
response.” Loc. R. 104.8(a). Though Marshall served her
initial Document Responses and Answers to Interrogatories on
March 22, 2018 and March 24, 2018, respectively (ECF 12-1 at
2), and UMMC did not file its Motion until June 21, 2018 (ECF
12-1 at 22), Marshall made repeated assurances that she would
supplement her allegedly deficient discovery responses.
Marshall admits, for example, that on April 23, 2018, she
“agreed to an extension of [UMMC's] deadline to
file a motion to compel . . . until the parties had an
opportunity to discuss the matter . . . .” ECF 12-19 at
7. Thereafter, on April 24, 2018 and April 26, 2018, Marshall
agreed to supplement her discovery responses regarding her
medical history since the date of her eighteenth birthday.
ECF 12-2 at 2-3, 12-4 at 2. According to UMMC, Marshall
waited about a month to inform UMMC that she no longer
intended to produce all documents regarding her medical
history. ECF 12-1 at 5; see also ECF 12-10 at 3
(counsel for Marshall stating on May 26, 2018 via email that
Marshall is only “willing to release the medical
records related to the injury she suffered at UMMC and
emotional distress.”). Upon learning of Marshall's
changed position, UMMC filed its Motion on June 21, 2018,
just twenty-seven (27) days later. Accordingly, UMMC's
Motion is not untimely, and the Court will reach the merits.
See Kidwiler v. Progressive Paloverde Insurance Co.,
192 F.R.D. 193, 198 (N.D. W.Va. 2000) (concluding that a
motion to compel is not untimely when the delay in bringing
it stems from assurances by the non-moving party that a
response would be forthcoming); Patrick v. Teays Valley
Trustees, LLC, 297 F.R.D. 248, 255 (N.D. W.Va. 2013),
aff'd sub nom. Patrick v. PHH Mortg. Corp., 298
F.R.D. 333 (N.D. W.Va. 2014) (holding that the motion was not
untimely because “any delay in filing the Motion to
Compel was the direct result of Defendant's repeated
assurances that further responses would be forthcoming”
and that “Plaintiffs went out of their way to avoid
bringing this matter to the Court, which is exactly what the
Rules require.”) (citation omitted); Eshelman v.
Puma Biotechnology, Inc., No. 7:16-CV-18-D, 2018 WL
1702773, at *3 (E.D. N.C. Apr. 6, 2018) (“While the
motion to compel was filed after the discovery deadline, the
court finds Defendant nonetheless acted diligently in
bringing the motion , as evidenced by numerous emails and
letters exchanged between counsel spanning from September
25-October 27, 2017, attempting to resolve the disputes
presented in the motion.”) (citation omitted).
Discovery Requests Regarding Marshall's Medical
Interrogatories 22 and 23 and Request for Production of
Documents Number 15 seek information regarding Marshall's
medical history from the date of her eighteenth birthday
through the present, including the identity of each and every
health care provider from who Marshall sought treatment, the
reason for any such treatment, and the documents created in