Dr. Bassam Assaf, Plaintiff,
OSF Healthcare System, an Illinois not for profit corporation d/b/a SAINT FRANCIS MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.
JOHN A. GORMAN, Magistrate Judge.
Now before the Court are two motions: Defendant's Motion to Limit Discovery (#50) and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (#56). These motions are fully briefed, and a hearing on these motions was held on Jan. 28, 2014. I have carefully considered the submissions and arguments of the parties. The motion to compel (#56) is granted in part and denied in part, as stated herein. The motion to limit discovery (#50) is granted as stated herein.
I. WRITTEN DISCOVERY GENERALLY
The scope of discovery is governed by FRCP 26(b), which provides that discovery may be had on any subject not privileged that is relevant to the claims and defenses raised by the parties. The evidence need not be admissible to be discoverable, so long as it is reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of relevant information. This Rule - and the other discovery rules - apply with equal force to ESI.
Discovery is limited in other ways stated in FRCP 26(b)(2)(C): it cannot be unreasonably cumulative or duplicative. If some other source is more convenient or less burdensome or less expensive, the request should be limited. It should also be limited if the burden or expense of the discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues, and the importance of the discovery.
Interrogatories are governed by FRCP 33, and Requests for documents by FRCP 34. Both rules incorporate the scope of discovery from Rule 26(b). Each interrogatory must be answered to the extent it is not objected to, and grounds for objections must be stated with specificity. An interrogatory can be answered by referring to documents. The same is true for document requests: the requests must be reasonably descriptive, and the answers must either allow production/inspection or state a specific objection.
II. LAW OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION
In order to evaluate the discovery disputes, elements of Plaintiff's claim must be considered, so issues of relevance and burden can be evaluated.
In this case, Plaintiff Dr. Bassam Assaf alleges that Defendant OSF Healthcare System (herein, "OSF") discriminated against him and retaliated against him on the basis of race and national origin, in violation of Title VII. He also claims breach of contract and violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.
Ultimately, if this case goes to trial, Dr. Assaf will have to prove that intentional discrimination motivated an adverse employment decision. Before trial, however, he will have to survive summary judgment. To do that, Dr. Assaf will either have to have direct evidence of discrimination - which is not at issue in the pending motion - or will have to succeed at the burden shifting, McDonnell Douglas test by establishing a prima facie case of discrimination - which requires evidence that
(1) plaintiff was a member of the protected class;
(2) plaintiff was qualified for the job in question or was meeting the employer's legitimate performance expectations;
(3) plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action; and
(4) the employer treated similarly situated persons not in a protected ...