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Sharon Murray v. Nationwide Better Health

August 24, 2012

SHARON MURRAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONWIDE BETTER HEALTH, BARBARA LEY, AND CYNTHIA NORTHRUP, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge.

E-FILED

Friday, 24 August, 2012 01:15:26 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Plaintiff Sharon Murray's Objections (d/e 310) to the order entered by United States Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore on July 19, 2012 (d/e 308) and the Objection filed by Defendants' Nationwide Better Health (Nationwide), Cynthia Northrup, and Barbara Ley (d/e 312). Plaintiff has also requested the opportunity to explain verbally why the documents she has identified are within the scope of limited discovery. See d/e 315.

Plaintiff's request for a hearing and her objections are DENIED, and Defendants' objection is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

In June 2011, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment raising primarily legal issues with regard to Plaintiff's federal claims. Defendants supported the Motion, in part, with an affidavit of Defendant Northrup, the Director of Leave and Disability for Nationwide. See d/e 108-2. In the affidavit, Northrup states that between 2006 and 2008, she was the Manager of Leave and Disability for Nationwide and managed the department that administered leave and disability claims for Nationwide as third-party administrator for AT&T Mobility LLC (formerly Cingular Wireless). Northrup authenticated the pertinent pages of the contract between AT&T and Nationwide for third-party administrator services. Northrup also stated that (1) Nationwide provided third-party administrative services to AT&T for family and medical leave and disability claims for AT&T employees; (2) Nationwide did not have the ability to hire, fire, assign, or direct the work of AT&T employees; (3) Nationwide did not exercise control over the working conditions of AT&T employees; and (4) Nationwide was an independent contractor with its own employees and a separate and distinct company from AT&T.

In July 2011, this Court entered an order staying discovery with the exception that Plaintiff be entitled to conduct limited discovery necessary to respond to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. See d/e 134. The Court limited discovery to the following issues: "(1) whether Nationwide Better Health is a 'covered employer' under the FMLA; and (2) whether Nationwide Better Health, Northrup, or Ley are 'fiduciaries' of a 'plan' under ERISA." Opinion, p. 8. The Court also permitted Plaintiff to "conduct discovery regarding any agreements, policies, or contracts entered into between Nationwide Better Health and Plaintiff's former employer during the relevant time and relating to the two issues cited above." Opinion, p. 8-9. Finally, the Court allowed Plaintiff to "obtain discovery from Northrup and Baugh regarding the information provided in their Affidavits" in support of summary judgment. Opinion, p. 9.

In August 2011, Judge Cudmore entered an order permitting Plaintiff to conduct a deposition by telephone of Northrup. See Opinion

p. 8 (d/e 150). Plaintiff objected to this ruling, but this Court denied Plaintiff's objections. See d/e 171.

On May 18, 2012, Northrup sat for a deposition. A dispute arose during the deposition, and the Court was contacted. See May 18, 2012 Minute Entry. The Court instructed Plaintiff to submit her objections in writing and obtain a copy of the transcript of the deposition. Id. On June 12, 2012, the Court, after listening to the audio recording of the depositions provided to the Court by Plaintiff, found it would be unduly burdensome to require Plaintiff to identify the specific objections by defense counsel that she challenged. Instead, the Court directed Plaintiff to submit in writing the questions she wanted to ask Northrup (within the limitations of discovery) to be answered under oath and in writing by Northrup. Text Order of June 12, 2012.

Plaintiff thereafter objected to having to write out her questions. See d/e 301. On June 19, 2012, the Court gave Plaintiff two choices:

Plaintiff could submit in writing her questions to Northrup to be answered under oath and in writing or she could conduct a second deposition of Northrup, at Plaintiff's expense, in the presence of Judge Cudmore. Text Order of ...


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