Unnecessary Disputes

Unnecessary Disputes by Plaintiff Leads to Granting of Defendant Motions: eDiscovery Case Law

In Ravikant v. Rohde, No. 21-cv-4758 (GHW) (OTW) (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2022), New York Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang, finding that “Plaintiff’s counsel has needlessly multiplied and complicated discovery”, leading to “unnecessary disputes”, granted the defendants’ Motion for a Protective Order and request for leave to file a Motion for Fees and Costs.

Case Discussion

In this medical malpractice case arising from adverse consequences in the days following Plaintiff’s surgery, Judge Wang opened her order with this statement: “Since this case was referred to me in May 2021, Plaintiff’s counsel has needlessly multiplied and complicated discovery. Significant judicial and legal resources have been devoted to resolving these unnecessary disputes.”

ProSearch

Examples of the unnecessary disputes included:

  1. Demanding on August 3, 2021 that defendants “immediately comply with all Rule 26 Initial Disclosures – meaning delivery of their complete office/medical charts comprised of every discoverable document in their offices – by close of business this Thursday, August 4, 2021.”
  2. Seeking an Order shortening Defendant’s response time from thirty days to “within five days of the date of an entry of an Order.”
  3. Serving Defendant Alukal with a second set of Interrogatories focused on his surgical experience, in violation of Local Rule 33.3, then asking the Court to order a deposition of Alukal’s surgical experience.
  4. Serving discovery requests seeking to inspect a doppler imaging machine at the height of the Delta surge, then seeking documents and a 30(b)(6) deposition from all Defendants to address why Defendants had been unable to produce discovery and another 30(b)(6) deposition on NYPH concerning a study that had not been performed by any defendant.
  5. Seeking an “informal [O]rder setting a meet and confer conference” to manage “Bates stamp[ing] and organiz[ing] all medical records.”
  6. Serving Defendant NYPH with a Notice of Deposition pursuant to FRCP 30(b)(6) after 5pm on Friday, February 18, 2022, with the deposition set to occur on Friday, February 25, 2022—4 business days later regarding the existence, location and production of “metadata” related to defendants’ “interactions” with the EMR or, alternatively, producing the metadata within 15 days.

Judge’s Ruling

In addressing the “unnecessary disputes” and noting that “On March 3, 2022, Defendants filed a Motion for a conference”, Judge Wang stated: “The Court construes Defendants’ Motion for a conference as a Motion for a Protective Order, given the history of this case. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ request is GRANTED”.

The reasons Judge Wang stated included:

  • “Plaintiff’s Notices of Deposition are QUASHED because the requests are not in compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30 and are not proportional to the needs of the case.”
  • “The Court questions the utility of metadata from Electronic Medical and Health Records in light of the records themselves noting the date and time of each entry. Defendants do not object to this request, but the Court does not see a basis for shortening the time for production.”

Judge Wang also stated: “Defendants’ request to file a motion for fees and costs in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(5) is GRANTED.” She also stated:

“The Court has previously voiced concerns ‘about proportionality and unnecessary motion practice,’ as it relates to Plaintiff’s demands for additional records from NYPH (among other things)…The current issue before me epitomizes unnecessary motion practice. Plaintiff seeks—on an unreasonable timetable—depositions and documents that are substantively duplicative of what he already has. Plaintiff does this without any explanation of how or why the metadata sought would be at all helpful or even relevant in proving his claims. It further concerns the Court that, over a period of three days, Plaintiff’s counsel twice offered to withdraw the deposition Notices in exchange for expedited written discovery on the same subject… Plaintiff has repeatedly made discovery requests and sought Court intervention in a manner that has ‘needlessly increase[d] the cost of litigation,’ and has been ‘unduly burdensome or expensive, considering the needs of the case.’”

So, what do you think? Do you think these were unnecessary disputes or were they within the rights of the plaintiff to request?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Case opinion link courtesy of eDiscovery Assistant, an Affinity partner of eDiscovery Today.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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