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Astorga v. Idahoan Foods, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 25, 2019

DOROTHY ASTORGA, Plaintiff,
v.
IDAHOAN FOODS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Dorothy Astorga's Motion for Protective Order. Dkt. 17. Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motion without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to DENY the Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Astorga filed her Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial on May 4, 2018, alleging her former employer, Idahoan Foods (“Idahoan”), violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Specifically, Astorga alleges that she suffers from an arthritic wrist condition and that she requested a reasonable accommodation from Idahoan. Astorga claims Idahoan refused to provide a reasonable accommodation, instead choosing to terminate her employment on April 5, 2018. Idahoan disputes that Astorga ever requested a reasonable accommodation or that she informed anyone at Idahoan about having wrist pain or arthritis. For its part, Idahoan maintains that it terminated Astorga's employment because of her poor work performance and other disciplinary issues.

         After her termination, Astorga was hired part-time as a housekeeper by Le Ritz Hotel (“Le Ritz”). Ultimately, Astorga signed up with a temp agency-BBSI-who in turn found her employment with Northwest Cosmetic Labs (“Northwest Cosmetics”)- her current employer.

         As part of the discovery process, Idahoan notified Astorga that it intended to subpoena both Le Ritz and Northwest Cosmetic to ask for the following information: “Records in your possession relating to Dorothy Astorga . . . including her personnel file, employment history, job description, job application, job restrictions, performance reviews and evaluations, disciplinary actions, wage/salary adjustments, physician's notes, and time off requests.” Dkt. 18-1, at 8-12.

         Astorga notified Idahoan of her objection to the subpoenas. After an unsuccessful informal mediation between the Court and Counsel, Astorga filed the instant motion seeking a protective order prohibiting Idahoan from serving the two subpoenas.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Generally, if no claim of privilege applies, a party can be compelled to produce evidence regarding any matter “relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action” or “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Under Federal Rule of Evidence 401, “[e]vidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” “[P]re-trial discovery is ordinarily ‘accorded a broad and liberal treatment, '” because “wide access to relevant facts serves the integrity and fairness of the judicial process by promoting the search for the truth.” Shoen v. Shoen, 5 F.3d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947)). “Under Rule 26, however, ‘[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.'” In re Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, 661 F.3d 417, 424 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)). “The party opposing disclosure has the burden of proving ‘good cause,' which requires a showing ‘that specific prejudice or harm will result' if the protective order is not granted.” Id. (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2003)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         In this case, Astorga argues that Idahoan's subpoenas are improper for two reasons: first, Astorga claims that the information sought is irrelevant; and second, Astorga contends that even if the information has some relevance in this case, the potential harm that might come from these subpoenas-namely that they could negatively interfere with her employment-outweighs any value they otherwise bring. The Court will address each argument in turn.

         A. Relevance

         Astorga repeatedly notes that under the ADA she is not required to tell her employers about her disability unless she needs an accommodation. Because she is not required to tell her employers anything, Astorga contends that Idahoan's subpoenas are a ...


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