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Allen v. Stark State College

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

July 26, 2019

MARY LOUISE ALLEN, Plaintiff,
v.
STARK STATE COLLEGE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER (RESOLVES DOC. NOS. 64, 71)

          PAMELA A. BARKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Pending before this Court[1] is Motion of Defendants for an Order Dismissing Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). (Doc. No. 64.)[2] In response, Plaintiff Mary Louise Allen (“Allen”) filed Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution and Failure to Comply with a Court Order Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. 41(b) and Memorandum in Support. (Doc. No. 71.)

         For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motion (Doc. No. 64) is GRANTED. Accordingly, this matter is DISMISSED in its entirety, with prejudice, and all other currently pending motions are rendered MOOT by this order.

         I. Background

         On December 29, 2017, Allen initiated her first action against Stark State College and a multitude of individually named defendants asserting claims of gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”) and disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq. (“ADA”). (Doc. No. 1.)

         On February 27, 2018, Allen initiated a second action against Stark State College and various individually named defendants, many of whom were the same individuals named in Allen's December 29, 2017 complaint, asserting claims of gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the ADA, general federal law claims of “retaliation/pay/civil rights/whistleblower/conspiracy/RICO racketeering” and general state law claims of “retaliation/pay/constitutional rights/whistleblower/conspiracy /RICO racketeering.” See Allen v. Stark State College, No. 18CV00464 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 27, 2018) (Doc. No. 1.)

         On June 15, 2018, Attorney David C. Yamada filed a motion to appear on Allen's behalf pro hac vice in the instant action, which was granted on July 5, 2018. (Doc. No. 18; Non-Doc. Order dated July 5, 2018)

         On July 9, 2018, Allen initiated a third action against Stark State College and a multitude of individually named defendants, many of whom were the same individuals named in Allen's previous two complaints, asserting various claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), et seq. (“Equal Pay Act”). See Allen v. Stark State College, No. 18CV01545 (N.D. Ohio July 9, 2018) (Doc. No. 1.)

         On July 23, 2018, the Court ordered consolidation of all three actions and ordered Allen to file an amended complaint to include all causes of action. (Doc. No. 24.) Thereafter, on August 6, 2018, Allen filed her Amended Complaint against Stark State College, Para Jones, Lada Gibson-Shreve, Thomas Chiappini, Andrew Stephan, Danette Lund, Melissa Glanz, Cathy Torgler, Vicki Bittinger, Mark Weldon, Kari Groh, Merle Griff, Jeffery Walters, Jeff Halm, Alice Stephens, Fonda Williams, and Chris Maurer (hereinafter, collectively, “Defendants”) asserting claims of gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the ADA, denial of Constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and gender-based pay inequality in violation of the Equal Pay Act. (Doc. No. 31.)

         On August 20, 2018, Defendants filed a motion to partially dismiss Allen's Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 34.) Therein, Defendants requested dismissal of all of Allen's claims except her claims for failure to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA as alleged against Stark State College (Count II), retaliation in violation of Title VII as alleged against Stark State College (Count III), retaliation in violation of the ADA as alleged against Stark State College (Count IV), and violations of the Equal Pay Act as alleged against Stark State College (Count X). (Id. at 1-2.)

         In pleading that Stark State College failed to reasonably accommodate her disability under the ADA (Count II), Allen states: “Plaintiff has been receiving treatment for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder throughout the time covered by this litigation. Her symptoms have included impairment of major life activities, including, but not limited to, long and severe bouts of depression, fear, and anxiety, interference with eating and sleeping, and negative effects on neurological and brain functioning.” (Doc. No. 31 at ¶ 115.) Allen states that because of Stark State College's failure to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability, “she has suffered severe emotional trauma requiring ongoing treatment . . . .” (Id. at ¶ 118.)

         In pleading both that Stark State College retaliated against her in violation of Title VII (Count III) and the ADA (Count IV), Allen states that because of Stark State College's alleged unlawful retaliatory activity she endured “considerable emotional distress and negative health impacts.” (Id. at ¶ 122.) Additionally, in her prayer for relief, among other remedies, Allen requested “compensatory damages for Plaintiff's emotional pain and suffering . . .” (Id. at pp. 30-31.)

         Then-assigned District Judge Adams held a Case Management Conference (“CMC”) on September 6, 2018. (Min. of Proceedings, Sept. 6, 2018; Doc. No. 42.) At the CMC, Judge Adams provided the following instructions regarding discovery, to which Allen acknowledged her understanding:

The Court: . . . I will give you the starting point. The discovery in this case is going to begin with the deposition of Ms. Allen. She will be deposed. And that is going to occur after a reasonable opportunity for the defendants to present requests for production of documents and interrogatories within the confines of the rule.
And so across the board, at this point in time, both sides are now free to engage in paper discovery within the confines of the civil and the local rules . . . .
. . . I suspect if the deposition is going to be truly effective, then we're probably going to need medical authorizations and releases and the names of all of her treating physicians and doctors, and it's a very, very - I don't particularly find it - let's put it this way. I am uncomfortable directing that be done, but in the face of her claims, there is no alternative. The defendants are entitled to know all of that particular detail, again, the names, addresses, telephone numbers, contact information for all physicians, mental health professionals and others that have treated the plaintiff for the past ten years.
Counsel for the plaintiff, it will be your duty and your job to immediately obtain that information and then immediately obtain from your client consents, authorizations for the defendants themselves to seek and obtain medical records, all the details they're entitled to, to fully explore the claims of the plaintiff.
Ms. Allen, you're on the phone. Do you understand the court's directive?
Ms. Allen: Yes, I do.
The Court: Ma'am, I expect - again, I am sorry to be direct. You're the plaintiff in this case, and you've made allegations that are serious in nature and we're going to take them seriously, but you are required at this point to make certain that all the information that you provide is truthful and accurate and detailed as to each and every physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, whoever it might be, medical physician, if you have a family physician, as we call it, primary care practitioner, the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and it would be helpful if you provide the dates of service or the dates you've seen those individuals and your counsel will provide you with the necessary medical authorizations which will be shared with the defendants. And they can seek out those records and obtain them.
If there's anything - again, they're entitled to that information broadly, just based upon the broad nature of these claims. If there's anything in particular that's limited in nature that you think is something that should not be disclosed, then, Counsel, you will have to file a motion under seal and ask me then perhaps, unfortunately, to review in-camera, anything you think is not directly relevant. By way of example, if there's some treatment by a specific type of physician or specific specialist that may not have any direct bearing on the issue, that's kind of the things we can address.

(Doc. No. 45 at Tr. 34-37.) In addition to the verbal directives regarding discovery at the CMC, the Court memorialized the deadlines in a written order stating that at the CMC “Plaintiff was also instructed to provide full and complete medical authorizations dating back 10 years by no later than September 27, 2018.” (Doc. No. 42.)

         According to various documents contained within the record from both Allen and Defendants, in accordance with the Court's directive at the CMC to begin discovery, Defendants served interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions upon Allen on September 18, 2018. (Doc. No. 43-1 ...


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