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M.R. v. Tajdar

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

July 24, 2019

M.R., by and through her parents, N.R. and A.R., et al., Plaintiffs,
AZIN TAJDAR, Defendant.



         On May 16, 2019, Plaintiffs M.R., a minor child, and her parents, A.R. and N.R., (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed a Motion to Quash (the “Motion”) seeking to suppress a subpoena Defendant Azin Tajdar issued to non-parties. ECF No. 38. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rules 301 and 302, this matter was referred to this Court by the Honorable Theodore D. Chuang for all discovery and related scheduling matters. ECF No. 34. The Court has reviewed the Motion, the opposition thereto, the related memoranda, and the applicable law. No. hearing is deemed necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion in part and DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion in part. A separate order shall issue.

         I. Procedural Background

         On December 29, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the underlying civil action alleging that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff M.R. (“M.R.”) on the basis of her disability by failing to make a reasonable accommodation for M.R. at Defendant's home-based state-licensed day care facility and subsequently dismissed her from the program. Pls.' Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs asserted claims under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181- 12189 (2012). Pls.' Compl. ¶¶ 70-71. Plaintiffs later amended their complaint, adding claims under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Maryland Code as well as for common law negligence. Pls.' Am. Compl. ¶¶ 76-78 (Mar. 26, 2018), ECF No. 13. On November 19, 2018, Judge Chuang partially granted Defendant's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), eliminating Plaintiffs' claims for damages under the ADA, all of Plaintiffs' Maryland statutory claims, and the claims for common law negligence. Order, Chuang, J., ECF No. 21. Defendant subsequently filed her answer in which she denied the allegations raised against her. Def.'s Answer (Nov. 27, 2018), ECF No. 22.

         On April 2, 2019, Defendant served by certified mail a subpoena on Potomac Pediatrics and Dr. Caren Glassman, [1] non-parties to the underlying matter. See Cover Letter and Subpoena Duces Tecum, Opp'n of Def. (“Def.'s Opp'n”), ECF No. 38-2, Ex. 2. Dr. Glassman is M.R.'s treating pediatrician at Potomac Pediatrics. Pls.' Mem. 2. In the subpoena, Defendant sought:

[A]ll records, films, and bills for [M.R.] in your possession or control, including but not limited to the following: 1) All patient information forms; 2) Patient questionnaires; 3) Nurse's notes; 4) Doctor's notes; 5) Doctor's and nurse's orders; 6) Laboratory and prescription records; 7) Consultation records; 8) History and physicals; 9) All x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and any and all other radiological and/or radiographic diagnostic imagery; 10) All reports of x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and any and all other radiologic/radiographic diagnostic imagery; 11) All bills, invoices, statements, and payments; and 12) The complete chart pertaining to any and all medical treatment rendered from January 1, 2003, up to and including the present date.[2]

         Def. Opp'n, Ex. 2 at 5-6. On April 3, 2019, Defendant's counsel notified Plaintiffs' counsel of the subpoena. Def.'s Mem. 4; Pls.' Mem. 7. On April 9, 2019, counsel for all parties held a telephone conference and discussed discovery issues relating to the case. Pls.' Mem. 6-7. At that time, Plaintiffs' counsel “raised concern about the subpoena at issue, a discussion followed, and [Plaintiffs'] counsel advised [Defendant's] counsel of plans to file a motion to quash.” Id. at 7 (emphasis omitted). On April 12, 2019, Defendant's counsel notified Plaintiffs' counsel that Potomac Pediatrics had produced and delivered the requested medical records to Defendant's counsel's office the day before. Id. Plaintiffs requested Defendant's counsel return the documents until their concerns regarding the subpoena were resolved. Id. Defendant's counsel complied with that request. Id. On May 16, 2019, Plaintiffs filed this Motion.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standing

         As a threshold matter, this Court must determine whether Plaintiffs have demonstrated they have standing to challenge Defendant's subpoenas issued to third parties. The Fourth Circuit has held that “[o]rdinarily, a party does not have standing to challenge a subpoena issued to a nonparty, ” however, a party may do so if it “claims some personal right or privilege in the information sought by the subpoena.” United States v. Idema, 118 Fed.Appx. 740, 744 (4th Cir. 2005). The Court notes that Defendant does not dispute that Plaintiffs have standing to file the present motion to quash. Further, it is undisputed that an individual has an interest in the personal information contained in her medical records. See Mezu v. Morgan State Univ., Civ. No. WMN-09-2855, 2011 WL 5110269, at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 25, 2011), aff'd, 495 Fed.Appx. 286 (4th Cir. 2012) (noting that a party might not have standing to challenge a subpoena seeking a third party's medical records, but not questioning whether the third party has standing to challenge the subpoena of her own records). Accordingly, the Court finds Plaintiffs have standing to bring this Motion.

         B. Motion to Quash Subpoena

         Turning to the merits of the Motion, Plaintiffs argue that the requested medical records contain “no information” relating to Plaintiffs' claims of discrimination or Defendant's defenses. Pls.' Mem. 3-4. Plaintiffs assert that M.R.'s autism diagnosis is the only health issue relevant to the case and that they have turned over all information pertaining to the diagnosis, that Dr. Glassman was not the provider who made the diagnosis, and that any additional medical information would be beyond the scope of this litigation. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiffs also assert a general claim that the information requested is highly sensitive information that is “privileged and protected.” Id. at 1.

         Defendant argues that the requested records contain relevant information to defend from the allegations of discrimination. Def. Opp'n 5. While Defendant admits that she “observed elements of developmental delay while caring for M.R. and expressed concerns thereof to M.R.'s parents, ” Defendant asserts that she was not aware of M.R.'s diagnosis and was not provided with any information confirming her diagnosis. Id. at 3, 5. In her opposition, Defendant includes documents that she states indicate that Dr. Glassman completed a medical form giving M.R. a “clean bill of health” just prior to M.R.'s diagnosis of autism. Id. at 6. Defendant argues that, in a case concerning a child's medical condition, the child's treating pediatrician's records are “clearly discoverable as relevant to the defense . . . .” Id. Defendant also asserts that the records likely contain M.R.'s medical history as relayed by her parents, which Defendant argues could include “parental behavioral observations, statements regarding daycare issues, other health care providers, and a potential array of information relevant to assessing [M.R.'s] claimed disability.” Id.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern the scope of 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 . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Accordingly, it is “relevance and not admissibility” that determines whether a matter is discoverable. Herchenroeder v. Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab., 171 F.R.D. 179, 181 (D. Md. 1997). “Relevance is not, on its own, a high bar.” Virginia Dep't of Corr. v. Jordan, 921 F.3d 180, 188 (4th Cir. 2019). “Information sought need only ‘appear[ ] [to be] reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence' to pass muster.” CX Reinsurance Co. Ltd. v. City Homes, Inc., Civ. No. JKB-17-1476, 2018 WL 5080944, at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 18, 2018) (quoting Innovative Therapies, Inc. v. Meents, 302 F.R.D. 364, 377 (D. Md. 2014)). However, “the simple fact that requested information is discoverable under Rule 26(a) does not mean that discovery must be had.” Nicholas v. Wyndham Int'l Inc., 373 F.3d 537, 543 (4th Cir. 2004). What ...

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