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Medina v. Catholic Health Initiatives

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 10, 2014

JANEEN MEDINA, Plaintiff,
v.
CATHOLIC HEALTH INITIATIVES, a Colorado Corporation, GERALDINE BEDNASH, MAUREEN COMER, RICHARD CORRENTE, DAVID R. EDWARDS, KATHERINE GRAY, BARBARA HAGEDORN, JAMES HAMILL, ANTOINETTE HARDY-WALLER, PHYLLIS HUGHES, DONALD JONES, ANDREA J. LEE, DAVID R. LINCOLN, KEVIN E. LOFTON, CHRISTOPHER R. LOWNEY, ELEANOR F. MARTIN, MARY MARGARET MOONEY, LILLIAN MURPHY, MARY JO POTTER, PATRICIA SMITH, EDWARD SPEED, DEAN SWINDLE, PATRICIA G. WEBB, and JOHN AND JANE DOES, 1-10, whose true names are unknown, Defendants

For Janeen Medina, Plaintiff: Bruce F. Rinaldi, Karen Louise Handorf, Matthew Alexander Smith, Monya Monique Bunch, Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, PLLC-DC, Washington, DC; Erin M. Riley, Havila C. Unrein, Laura R. Gerber, Lynn L. Sarko, Keller Rohrback, LLP-Seattle, Seattle, WA; Khesraw Karmand, Keller Rohrback, Ron Kilgard, LLP-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA; Laurie B. Ashton, Keller Rohrback, PLC-Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ.

For Catholic Health Initiatives, a Colorado Corporation, Geraldine Bednash, Maureen Comer, Richard Corrente, David R. Edwards, Katherine Gray, Barbara Hagedorn, James Hamill, Antoinette Hardy-Waller, Phyllis Hughes, Donald Jones, Andrea J. Lee, David R. Lincoln, Kevin E. Lofton, Christopher R. Lowney, Christopher R. Lowney, Mary Margaret Mooney, Lillian Murphy, Mary Jo Potter, Patricia Smith, Edward Speed, Dean Swindle, Patricia G. Webb, Defendants: Emily C. Lechner, Lars C. Golumbic, Sean C. Abouchedid, Groom Law Group Chartered, Washington, DC.

For United States, Intervenor: Bradley Heath Cohen, U.S. Department of Justice-DC-#883, Washington, DC.

ORDER

Kristen L. Mix, United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Limited Motion for Reconsideration of Discovery Dispute Order [#228][1] (the " Motion"). Plaintiff filed a Response [#236] to the Motion and Defendant filed a Reply [#242] in further support of the Motion. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and D.C.COLO.LCivR 72.1(c), the Motion has been referred to the undersigned for disposition [#229]. The Court has reviewed the Motion, the Response, the Reply, the entire case file, and the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#228] is DENIED without prejudice.

I. Background

On July 8, 2014, the Court held a telephonic discovery hearing. See generally Courtroom Minutes/Minute Order [#198]. At that hearing, the Court explained to the parties that it would be entering an order regarding future discovery disputes. Id. at 2. That same day, the Court entered its Order [#197] regarding future discovery disputes (the " Contested Order"). See generally Contested Order [#197]. In the Contested Order, the Court imposed certain requirements that the parties must adhere to prior to making any contested discovery motion to the Court. Id. at 2. These requirements are:

1. Counsel and each client involved in a discovery dispute must appear in person at any hearing concerning the dispute. In the case of a corporate client, the president or chief executive officer must attend.
2. After the lawyers have exhausted their obligation to confer under D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(a), but before calling the court regarding the discovery dispute, the lawyers must meet with their clients, review the positions they are taking, and obtain their clients' direction to proceed. Counsel must certify in writing prior to any discovery hearing that they complied with this requirement, that the client understands the action being taken, and that the client expressly directs that the action be taken. The certificate of compliance must be filed with the court prior to the discovery hearing.
3. In the event that I award a monetary sanction in connection with the discovery dispute, I will award it against the client in view of the certificate that the client directed that the action be taken.

Id.

In the Motion, Defendants seek reconsideration of the portion of the Contested Order that requires Defendant Catholic Health Initiatives' (" CHI") Chief Executive Officer to personally attend future discovery hearings. Motion [#228] at 1. Defendants offer two arguments in support of the Motion. First, they argue that " the conduct of the parties' counsel in connection with the discovery disputes at issue in the July 8, 2014 hearing satisfied their legal and professional obligations and did not constitute discovery abuse." Id. at 3. In essence, this argument appears to more generally address the underlying reasons for entry of the Contested Order, rather than Defendants' particular concerns regarding the personal attendance requirement. Second, Defendants argue that the Contested Order's " requirement that CHI's CEO attend hearings in person will unfairly prejudice CHI's ability to effectively negotiate and resolve any future discovery disputes." Id. at 4. Defendants maintain that " unless modified, the [Contested] Order's in-person hearing requirement will likely disadvantage CHI in reaching agreements with Plaintiff's counsel and subvert the Order's purpose . . . because the CEO, by virtue of his position as the leader of a corporation with over 90, 000 employees in 18 states, has a highly demanding work and travel schedule that will often make it unduly burdensome or impossible for him to attend discovery hearings." Id. at 4-5. Defendants note that they " are concerned that Plaintiff's counsel will have more leverage in such disputes insofar as there will likely be less of a burden on Plaintiff than there is on CHI to comply with the [Contested] Order's hearing attendance requirements." Id. at 5. Defendants ask the Court to allow Patricia Webb to attend discovery hearings in lieu of Defendant CHI's CEO. Id. Ms. Webb is a named Defendant in this action and also holds the following titles at Defendant CHI: Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, and Executive Vice President. Id.

In her Response, Plaintiff argues[2] that the Motion does not meet the standard for reconsideration under Rule 54(b). Response [#236] at 3. In short, Plaintiff argues that the Motion does not (1) " cite [ ] new evidence; " (2) " cite [ ] new legal authority; " (3) or " demonstrate that the Court's Order was clearly in error." Id. at 4. Plaintiff further maintains that Defendants will not be disproportionately burdened, as they argue, because Plaintiff will also be burdened by the Contested Order's requirements. Id. Plaintiff maintains that she " will be required to take unpaid time off work and re-arrange her own personal affairs in order to participate in the resolution of any disputes and hearings." Id.; see also Declaration of Plaintiff Janeen Medina in Support of Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendants' Limited Motion for Reconsideration of Discovery Dispute Order [#237] ¶ ¶ 3-4. In addition, Plaintiff argues that ...


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