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Court Grants Defendant’s Motion to Compel Discovery in Sexual Harassment Case

Posted on June 25th, 2018

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In Lassiter v. Hidalgo Medical Services (No. 17-cv-0850JCH/SMV, United States District Court, D. New Mexico, May 16, 2018), the United States District Court of New Mexico ruled on the Defendant’s motion to compel the production of a day planner in an employment retaliation case.

The Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against her former employer, Hidalgo Medical Services, and its CEO over allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation. According to the Plaintiff, the CEO sexually harassed her and then terminated her position when she refused his advances. In addition to other claims, the lawsuit alleges violations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

The Defendant filed a motion to compel the production of the Plaintiff’s day planner. The Plaintiff had alleged that the day planner contained information regarding the allegations of sexual harassment. In addition, the Defendant sought to compel the Plaintiff’s response to an interrogatory regarding the chain of custody of the planner. According to the Defendant, the Plaintiff put the authenticity and contemporaneity of the planner at issue, meaning the requested materials are within the scope of discovery.

The Plaintiff objected to the motion to compel the production of the day planner on the grounds that the request does not specify a reasonable time, place and manner for the inspection of the planner. In addition, the Plaintiff objected on the grounds that the discovery request is not proportional to the needs of the case.

The Court decided that the day planner is relevant to the case and therefore discoverable. In the complaint filed against her former employer, the Plaintiff refers to the notes in the day planner as showing that she was “offensively hugged and sexually harassed.”

The Court said the Defendant is entitled to inspect the day planner to evaluate its authenticity and contemporaneity. Although the Plaintiff objected to the costs of producing the planner, the Court found that the burden of production is minimal and would fall on the Defendant to cover.

Therefore, the Plaintiff must produce the day planner in accordance with the instructions set by the Court.

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