United States District Court, D. Nebraska
SAMONE T. PARKER, Individually and as Special Administrator of the ESTATE OF TONYA L. DRAPEAU, deceased; Plaintiff,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, VISTA STAFFING SOLUTIONS, INC., NEVINE MAHMOUD, M.D., and ROBIN HARRIS, R.N.; Defendants.
MICHAEL D. NELSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the Court following a telephone
conference held with counsel on March 5, 2019, regarding
Plaintiff's objections to the United States of
America's document subpoenas to non-parties and the scope
of records requested by Defendant Robin Harris from the
Social Security Administration (“SSA”). The
parties each submitted arguments to the undersigned in
advance of the conference, attached as Exhibits A-C. After
the conference, counsel for Defendant Harris submitted the
disputed Consent for Release of Information from the SSA,
attached as Exhibit D. All counsel agreed that the Court may
resolve the disputes at this time.
February 5, 2019, the United States filed a notice of intent
to issue three document subpoenas to non-parties. (Filing No.
94). The documents sought by these subpoenas include
investigative files, removal files, placement and
reunification files, and Indian Child Welfare Act files
maintained by the Omaha Tribe Child Family Services regarding
the decedent's children, from January 1, 2006, to the
present, (Filing No. 94-1); files related to welfare
payments, temporary assistance payments, and SNAP benefits
made to the decedent between January 2006 through January
2017, and any other financial assistance or other Tribal
assistance ever made to or on behalf of the decedent's
children between January 2010 to the present, (Filing No.
94-2); and applications, related income documents,
and allowance for housing on the Omaha Reservation on behalf
of the decedent, between January 2006 and January 2017, and
all files from the Tribal Housing Authority related to the
decedent's children between January 2010 and the present,
(Filing No. 94-3). Plaintiff has objected to the United
States' document subpoenas as ambiguous, indefinite in
time and scope, irrelevant, overbroad, unduly burdensome,
vague, and outside the scope of discoverable material.
(Filing No. 97).
adverse party has standing to object to a third-party
subpoena on grounds of relevance or to protect a personal
right or privilege in the information requested.”
Jenkins v. Pech, No. 8:14CV41, 2015 WL 728305, at *3
(D. Neb. Feb. 19, 2015)(quoting Streck, Inc. v. Research
& Diagnostic Sys., Inc., No. 8:06CV458, 2009 WL
1562851, at *3 (D. Neb. June 1, 2009)). As such, Plaintiff
does not have standing to lodge objections to the issuance of
the non-party subpoenas to protect those non-parties from
undue burden, inconvenience, and the like. However, Plaintiff
does have standing to object based on relevance. See
Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Southeast Floating Docks,
Inc., 231 F.R.D. 426, 429 (M.D. Fla. 2005). The scope of
permissible discovery is extremely broad. “Parties may
obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is
relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional
to the needs of the case[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).
“Information within this scope of discovery need not be
admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”
Id. If requested discovery is facially relevant, the
party resisting discovery has the burden to establish that
the discovery is not relevant or is “of such marginal
relevance that the potential harm occasioned by the discovery
would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad
disclosure.” Moses v. Halstead, 236 F.R.D.
667, 671 (D. Kan. 2006).
Court finds that the United States' subpoenas seek
documents relevant to Plaintiff's claims and damages.
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges a survival claim
against Defendants and seeks damages for the decedent's
next of kin for loss of financial support, loss of care,
comfort, companionship, assistance, and earnings, as well as
past and future loss of the decedent's earnings, earning
capacity, and wages. (Filing No. 42 at p. 10). The United
States' document requests seek information relevant to
that claim. However, the time frame of the United States'
requests is overly broad. The Court will limit the beginning
date of the United States' requests to eight years prior
to the decedent's death on March 23, 2016. The United
States may serve the non-party subpoenas with that date
also objects to the scope of Defendant Harris' requests
for the decedent's records from the SSA; specifically,
the Plaintiff objects to the relevance of decedent's
monthly benefit or income payment amounts and the time frame
for records dating back to 2001. Given the broad scope of
relevance, the Court finds that Defendant Harris'
requests are relevant. As discussed and agreed during the
telephone conference, Defendant Harris may receive all
applications for benefits to the SSA, regardless of date. The
other records sought by Defendant Harris from the SSA will be
limited to eight years prior to the decedent's death.
Plaintiff shall sign a revised Consent for Release within