United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
Charles B. Day United States Magistrate Judge.
pending before the Court are 10 motions to quash subpoena, or
in the alternative, motions for protective order for phone
and text records (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.
December 12, 2018, Plaintiffs Hispanic National Law
Enforcement Association NCR (“HNLEA”) and United
Black Police Officers Association (“UBPOA”),
along with 12 of their members who are or were employed
by the Prince George's County Police Department
“Plaintiffs”),  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.
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.
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.
issue in this decision is a subpoena (the
“Subpoena”) Plaintiffs served on Verizon Wireless
(“Verizon”) on or around May 13,
2019. Verizon is a nonparty to the Underlying
Action. Plaintiffs sought information concerning 11 phone
numbers identified in the Subpoena.Id. Specifically,
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
1. On June 6 and June 10, 2019, Petitioners filed their
respective Motions to Quash.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.
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.
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.
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.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.'
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 ...