Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Subpoena Duces Tecum to Verizon Wireless

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

September 13, 2019

In re SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM TO VERIZON WIRELESS
v.
HISPANIC NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSOCIATION NCR, et al., Respondents. KATHLEEN MILLS, et al., Petitioners,

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles B. Day United States Magistrate Judge.

         Currently pending before the Court are 10 motions to quash subpoena, or in the alternative, motions for protective order for phone and text records[1] (collectively “Motions to Quash”), all of which arise out of the same underlying action: Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association NCR, et al., v. Prince George's County, et al., No. 18-cv-3821-TDC (D. Md. filed Dec. 12, 2018) (hereinafter the “Underlying Action”). Petitioners include four (4) named-defendants and six (6) nonparties to the Underlying Action. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rules 301 and 302, the underlying matter was referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Theodore D. Chuang for all discovery and related scheduling matters. Underlying Action, ECF No. 48. Additionally, in each of the cases a separate referral has been made to the undersigned. The Court has reviewed the Motions to Quash, the oppositions 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 Petitioners' Motions for Protective Orders and DENIES Petitioners' Motions to Quash. A separate order shall issue.

         I. Procedural Background

         On December 12, 2018, Plaintiffs Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association NCR (“HNLEA”) and United Black Police Officers Association (“UBPOA”), along with 12[2] of their members who are or were employed by the Prince George's County Police Department (“PGCPD”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”), [3] filed the Underlying Action alleging a custom and practice of discrimination and retaliation against officers of color by the PGCPD and certain high-ranking PGCPD officials (collectively “Defendants”). Pls.' Compl., Underlying Action, ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for discrimination on the basis of race and color, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and retaliation, in violation of the First Amendment. Id. at ¶¶ 213- 29.

         On February 26, 2019, Defendants filed their First Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Underlying Action, ECF No. 30. On June 7, 2019, a hearing was held before Judge Chuang. Underlying Action, ECF No. 57. On July 8, 2019, Judge Chuang partially granted Defendant's First Motion to Dismiss and dismissed several of Plaintiffs' claims against individually named Defendants without prejudice. See Order, Chuang, J., Underlying Action, ECF No. 74.

         On May 28, 2019, Plaintiffs amended their Complaint and added claims for discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., claims of discrimination in violation of Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12111, et seq., and other common law claims. Pls.' 1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 276-300. The same day Judge Chuang heard arguments on Defendants' First Motion to Dismiss, Defendants filed a Second Motion to Dismiss responding to the new claims alleged in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. Underlying Action, ECF No. 58. That motion is currently pending before Judge Chuang.

         At issue in this decision is a subpoena (the “Subpoena”) Plaintiffs served on Verizon Wireless (“Verizon”) on or around May 13, 2019.[4] Verizon is a nonparty to the Underlying Action. Plaintiffs sought information concerning 11 phone numbers identified in the Subpoena.[5]Id. Specifically, Plaintiffs sought:

Records relating to the phone numbers attached . . . for the period January 1, 2016 through the present, including the time, date, duration, and destination/origin phone number for all incoming/outgoing calls, and the time, date, destination/origin phone number, and content for all text messages.

         Subpoena 1. On June 6 and June 10, 2019, Petitioners[6] filed their respective Motions to Quash.[7]See Motions to Quash. On July 16, 2019, Plaintiffs informed Verizon by letter that they were withdrawing their Subpoena request for text message records associated with the phone numbers. See, e.g., Pls.' Resp. to Mots. to Quash Subpoena Issued to Verizon (“Pls.' Opp'n”), Mills Mot., ECF No. 10, Ex. A. That same day, Plaintiffs filed oppositions to the Named-Defendants' Motions to Quash. See, e.g., Pls.' Opp'n, Mills Mot.. On July 30, 2019, the Named-Defendants filed replies to Plaintiffs' Oppositions. See, e.g., Reply Mem. in Support of Mots. to Quash Subpoena Issued to Verizon, Mills Mot., ECF No. 11. On August 2, 2019, Plaintiffs filed oppositions to the Nonparty Petitioners' Motions to Quash. See, e.g., Pls.' Resp. to Mots. to Quash Subpoena Issued to Verizon, Lightner Mot., ECF No. 9. That same date, Named-Defendants filed a memorandum in support of Nonparty Petitioners' Motions to Quash. See, e.g., Mem. Joining Pets. Prince George's County, Kathleen Mills, Christopher Murtha, and Henry Stawinski's Reply Mem. in Support of Mots. to Quash Subpoena Issued to Verizon, Mills Mot., ECF No. 12. To date, Nonparty Petitioners have not filed replies.

         II. Discussion

         Petitioners raise similar objections in each of their Motions to Quash. Specifically, Petitioners all argue that the Subpoena is overly broad as it seeks records and text content relating to a phone number for an entire three-year period without limiting the scope to the allegations raised in the Amended Complaint. See Mills Mot. ¶¶ 5-6; Prince George's County Mot. ¶ 10; Stawinski Mot. ¶ 9. Petitioners assert that the Subpoena is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible information and that it is not proportional to the needs of the case. See Mills Mot. ¶ 14; Prince George's County Mot. ¶¶ 14-15. According to Petitioners, even though Prince George's County owns most of the phone numbers and issued them to employees to be used for conducting official business, all of the employees use their official phones for personal use to some degree on a daily basis. See Ghattas Mot. ¶¶ 7-8. As a result, the Subpoena request would capture not only “privileged and personal” information (such as communications with family or medical providers), it would also capture information about irrelevant police business. See Mills Mot. ¶ 14; Prince George's County Mot. ¶¶ 14-15.

         Prince George's County has a policy concerning the use of a county-issued phone number and how employees have no expectation of privacy. See Ghattas Mot. ¶ 6; Velez Mot. ¶¶ 6-7. Despite this, Petitioners assert that they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” as it pertains to third parties. See Ghattas Mot. ¶ 18; Velez Mot. ¶ 18. Additionally, the Nonparty Petitioners are each only mentioned once or twice in the pleadings for the Underlying Action, if at all. See, e.g., Mints Mot. ¶¶ 3, 5 (noting Petitioner Mints is only mentioned in the Amended Complaint once for an occurrence that allegedly happened in March 2017); Alexander Mot. ¶¶ 3, 5 (noting Petitioner Alexander is only mentioned in the Amended Complaint twice); Lightner Mot. ¶ 10 (noting Petitioner Lightner is not mentioned in the Amended Complaint at all). The Nonparty Petitioners assert that the Subpoena requests are merely a fishing expedition and an invasion of privacy as Plaintiffs seek information to further grow their underlying case. See, e.g., Alexander Mot. ¶ 11.[8]

         In response, Plaintiffs assert two main arguments. First, Plaintiffs assert that the Motions to Quash are essentially moot as Plaintiffs have withdrawn their requests for text content. Pls.' Opp'n 2, 6. Plaintiffs assert that the remaining request for call records are “not personal, privileged, or confidential information” as they do not contain content. Id. Second, Plaintiffs counter that the Subpoena requests are not overbroad but target specific individuals whose communications are relevant to Plaintiffs' claims in the Underlying Action. Pls.' Opp'n 2-5.[9]Of the 1900 officers employed by the PGCPD, Plaintiffs allege to have identified “91 White officers who have engaged in racists conduct or perpetuated the [PGCPD] policy, custom and practice of racial discrimination and retaliation.” Pls.' Opp'n 3. The Subpoena requests are targeted as they are only seeking information relating to 11 officers, who are either named-Defendants or “high-ranking officials” in PGCPD. Pls.' Opp'n 2-3.

         In reply, Petitioners assert that their Motions to Quash are not moot as call logs still contain personal, confidential and privileged information. Pet'rs' Reply 3. Petitioners reassert that the information requested is too broad in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.