This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/04/2021 at 05:04:45 (UTC).

SHYJUANNA COLLINS VS TARGET CORPORATION, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 12/08/2020 SHYJUANNA COLLINS filed a Labor - Wrongful Termination lawsuit against TARGET CORPORATION. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are TERESA A. BEAUDET and KEVIN C. BRAZILE. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******6744

  • Filing Date:

    12/08/2020

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Labor - Wrongful Termination

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

TERESA A. BEAUDET

KEVIN C. BRAZILE

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

COLLINS SHYJUANNA

Defendants

TARGET CORPORATION

UREY MARGOT

LARA NORMA

VALENTINO MICHAEL

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Defendant Attorney

HOWARD RACHEL

Other Attorneys

MAGANTE EDZYL JOSEF GONZALES

 

Court Documents

Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

6/1/2021: Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

6/1/2021: Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

6/1/2021: Proof of Service by Mail - PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

5/17/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

5/17/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

5/17/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - PROOF OF SERVICE (NOT SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT) ATTACHMENT TO PROOF OF ELECTRONIC SERVICE (PERSONS SERVED)

5/18/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - PROOF OF SERVICE (NOT SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT) ATTACHMENT TO PROOF OF ELECTRONIC SERVICE (PERSONS SERVED)

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - PROOF OF SERVICE (NOT SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT) PROOF OF ELECTRONIC SERVICE

5/18/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) - PROOF OF SERVICE (NOT SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT) PROOF OF ELECTRONIC SERVICE

Order - RULING: MAY 20, 2021

5/20/2021: Order - RULING: MAY 20, 2021

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH DEFEND...)

5/20/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE; HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH DEFEND...)

Reply - REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA

5/7/2021: Reply - REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO QUASH SUBPOENA

Notice - NOTICE OF INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE

5/13/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF INFORMAL DISCOVERY CONFERENCE

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANT TARGET CORPORATION'S SUB...)

5/14/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANT TARGET CORPORATION'S SUB...)

Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUED HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANTS SUBPOENA TO THE CHILDREN'S CLINIC AND CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

5/14/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF CONTINUED HEARING ON PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANTS SUBPOENA TO THE CHILDREN'S CLINIC AND CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

Case Management Statement

4/30/2021: Case Management Statement

Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF RACHEL P. HOWARD IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT TARGET CORPORATIONS OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANTS SUBPOENA TO THE CHILDRENS CLINIC

5/3/2021: Declaration - DECLARATION DECLARATION OF RACHEL P. HOWARD IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT TARGET CORPORATIONS OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANTS SUBPOENA TO THE CHILDRENS CLINIC

Response - RESPONSE DEFENDANT TARGET CORPORATIONS RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFFS SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANTS SUBPOENA TO THE CHILDRENS CLINIC

5/3/2021: Response - RESPONSE DEFENDANT TARGET CORPORATIONS RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFFS SEPARATE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO QUASH DEFENDANTS SUBPOENA TO THE CHILDRENS CLINIC

Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

5/3/2021: Proof of Service (not Summons and Complaint)

36 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 08/19/2021
  • Hearing08/19/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 20 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Case Management Conference

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  • 06/03/2021
  • Hearing06/03/2021 at 11:00 AM in Department 20 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Informal Discovery Conference (IDC)

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  • 06/01/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail (PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS); Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/01/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail (PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS); Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/01/2021
  • DocketProof of Service by Mail (PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS); Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/20/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 20, Kevin C. Brazile, Presiding; Case Management Conference - Held - Continued

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  • 05/20/2021
  • Docketat 1:30 PM in Department 20, Kevin C. Brazile, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Quash (Defendant Target Corporation's Subpoena) - Held - Motion Granted

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  • 05/20/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Case Management Conference; Hearing on Motion to Quash Defend...)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/20/2021
  • DocketRuling: May 20, 2021; Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/18/2021
  • DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint) (ATTACHMENT TO PROOF OF ELECTRONIC SERVICE (PERSONS SERVED)); Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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39 More Docket Entries
  • 12/17/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/17/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/17/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/17/2020
  • DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/14/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Management Conference; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/08/2020
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/08/2020
  • DocketSummons (on Complaint); Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/08/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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  • 12/08/2020
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 12/08/2020
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by Shyjuanna Collins (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

b'

Case Number: 20STCV46744 Hearing Date: August 27, 2021 Dept: 20

Tentative Ruling

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Judge Kevin C. Brazile

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Department 20

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Hearing Date: Friday,\r\nAugust 27, 2021

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Case Name: Shyjuanna Collins v. Target Corp., et al.

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Case No.: 20STCV46744

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Motion: Compel\r\nIn-Person Deposition Attendance

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Moving Party: Defendant Target

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Responding Party: Plaintiff Collins

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Notice: OK

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Ruling: The Motion to Compel\r\nis GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Collins shall attend her deposition\r\nremotely within the next 30 days but is not required to personally attend.

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The\r\nrequests for sanctions are DENIED.

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Collins to give notice.

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If counsel do not submit on the\r\ntentative, they are encouraged to appear remotely rather than in person.

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BACKGROUND

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On December 8, 2020, Plaintiff Shyjuanna Collins filed a Complaint\r\nagainst Defendants Target Corporation, Michael Valentino, Margot Urey, Norma\r\nLara, and Does 1-50, stating causes of action for race and national origin\r\ndiscrimination, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate the disability,\r\nfailure to engage in the interactive process, retaliation or unlawful denial of\r\nCFRA leave, FEHA retaliation, FEHA harassment, failure to prevent\r\ndiscrimination, harassment and retaliation, wrongful termination, and Labor\r\nCode causes of action arising out of her employment with Target from December\r\n8, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

\r\n\r\n

On January 19, 2021, Collins filed a First Amended Complaint against\r\nDefendants Target, Valentino, Urey, Lara, and Does 1-50.

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On June 4, 2021, Target served a deposition notice on Collins noticing\r\nher deposition for July 15, 2021.

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On July 9, 2021, Plaintiff served an objection to the notice\r\n"elect[ing]" to appear remotely.

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On August 5, 2021, Target filed a Motion to Compel In-Person\r\nDeposition of Collins.

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On August 16, 2021, Collins filed an Opposition.

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On August 20, 2021, Target filed a Reply.

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DISCUSSION

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Applicable Law

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“The plaintiff may serve a deposition notice without leave of court on\r\nany date that is 20 days after the service of the summons on, or appearance by,\r\nany defendant.” (CCP sec. 2025.210(b).) Any party receiving a defective\r\ndeposition notice “waives any error or irregularity unless that party promptly\r\nserves a written objection specifying that error or irregularity at least three\r\ncalendar days prior to the date for which the deposition is scheduled, on the\r\nparty seeking to take the deposition and any other attorney or party on whom\r\nthe deposition notice was served.” (CCP sec. 2025.410(a).)

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CCP sec. 2025.450(a) authorizes a motion to compel deposition\r\nattendance when a noticed party, “without having served a valid objection under\r\nSection 2025.410, fails to appear for examination.” The motion to compel must\r\nbe supported by a meet and confer declaration unless the deponent “fails to\r\nattend the deposition and produce the documents,” in which case the moving\r\nparty must submit “a declaration stating that the petitioner has contacted the\r\ndeponent to inquire about the nonappearance.” (CCP sec. 2025.450(b)(2).)

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Application to Facts

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Defendant\r\nTarget seeks an order compelling Plaintiff Collins to attend her deposition in\r\nperson rather than remotely. Collins opposes this request, arguing she is\r\nimmunocompromised due to certain medical conditions at issue in this action\r\n(Collins’ diabetes and lupus) and arguing personal attendance would pose an\r\nundue risk to her four-year-old unvaccinated daughter. Collins argues this risk\r\nis enhanced by the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is substantially more\r\ncontagious than prior variants.

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Collins\r\nis amenable to a remote deposition; Target is not. Target argues it cannot\r\nassess Collins’ credibility unless its counsel is in the same room as Collins\r\nto assess her demeanor and body language. (Motion, p. 9-10.) Target also\r\nexpresses concerns that Frederick Harris, the “father of [Collins’] daughter,”\r\nmay be present to some degree during the deposition. (Motion, p. 10.) Target\r\ndisputes that Collins suffers from diabetes and lupus at all and contends\r\nCollins has been traveling out-of-state recently, arguing this undermines her\r\nbasis to resist personal attendance. (Motion, p. 11.) Finally, Target argues\r\nCalifornia Rules of Court (CRC) 3.1010(c) requires Collins attend her\r\ndeposition personally. (CRC 3.1010(c) (a "party deponent must appear at\r\nhis or her deposition in person and be in the presence of the deposition\r\nofficer.")) Target points out that Emergency Rule 11, which expanded the\r\nability to conduct remote depositions during the COVID-19 pandemic, was repealed\r\nin November 2020. (Motion, p. 8.)

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First,\r\nTarget argues it is entitled to require in person appearance because it cannot\r\nassess her credibility remotely. However, courts and litigants have been\r\nconducting remote hearings and depositions for some now without significant\r\nissue. As discussed further below, the Court is unpersuaded that Target’s\r\ndoubts regarding Collins’s credibility vis- -vis medical conditions are\r\nsufficient grounds to expose a purportedly immunocompromised person to a\r\npersonal deposition. Further, Collins’s medical conditions are central to the\r\nlitigation and Target is attempting to conduct discovery to dispute the\r\nexistence of these conditions. Permitting a particular form of discovery on the\r\npremise that Collins’s assertions of disability are not credible would\r\nprematurely resolve a core issue. Target also did not persuade the Court that a\r\nremote deposition would materially affect its ability to assess Collins’s\r\ncredibility.

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Next,\r\nTarget claims Collins "may live with a key witness, Harris, who is the\r\nfather of Plaintiff\'s child." (Motion, p. 10.) However, "[e]ven if\r\nnot living together," Target expresses concern that Harris might influence\r\nCollins\'s testimony or vice versa. (Motion, p. 10.) No evidence was provided\r\nfrom which the Court could conclude Harris might be present at Collins’s remote\r\ndeposition, particularly if they are not living together. To the extent Target\r\nis concerned Harris will tailor his testimony in response to Collins\'\r\ntestimony, it is unclear why Target is not concerned that Collins would share\r\nthe transcript with him—which is unavoidable and would have essentially the\r\nsame effect as Harris listening to the deposition. To the extent Target is\r\nconcerned Collins’s testimony would be affected by Harris’s presence, there is\r\nno evidence indicating Harris might be present. Moreover, Collins need not\r\nconduct a remote deposition from her home—this is a matter which can be\r\ndiscussed between counsel if necessary to locate another location which would\r\nminimize Collins’ exposure while limiting Harris’s access.

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Target\r\nalso contends Collins could be ordered to attend her deposition personally at a\r\nlater date if necessary, such as in January 2022, when “counsel will hopefully\r\nhave a better sense of the situation with the Delta variant and when the\r\ntesting positivity rate is below a certain number.” (Supp. Howard Decl., para.\r\n2.) However, the Court has no basis to think that Collins’ personal attendance\r\nwould be any safer in January 2022. It would be speculative to conclude that\r\nthe situation will improve by then. This cannot support entering an order right\r\nnow compelling Collins to attend at a future date on the assumption that\r\nattendance will be safer. On the contrary, COVID-19 has been a persistent\r\nhealth threat—the FDA recently approved booster shots for immunocompromised\r\npersons with the recognition that immunocompromised persons need to maintain\r\nprotection from COVID-19, particularly from the extra-contagious Delta variant\r\nor future variants which have not yet emerged.

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While\r\nby default parties are required to personally attend their depositions, CRC\r\n3.1010(e) permits the Court “in a specific action [to] make such other orders\r\nas it deems appropriate.”[1] An order relieving Collins\r\nof the obligation to appear in person is appropriate “in [this] specific\r\naction.” The dispute over whether Collins suffers from lupus and diabetes is\r\ncentral to this litigation; the Court cannot now conclude Collins is not in\r\nfact immunocompromised merely because Target disputes the existence of the\r\nmedical conditions. It would be an unjustifiable risk to force Collins to\r\nattend the deposition personally merely because the Court was unpersuaded\r\nCollins is in fact immunocompromised.

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Thus,\r\nthe Court declines to resolve that central issue at the discovery stage,\r\nparticularly where resolving it as requested by Target may endanger Collins.\r\nImmunocompromised persons are at severe risk of hospitalization or death from\r\nCOVID-19.[2] It clearly would not be in\r\nthe interests of justice if compelling personal attendance causes Collins to\r\nsuffer hospitalization or death. Target’s interest in assessing Collins’\r\ncredibility is insufficient to overcome this risk. Parties have conducted\r\nremote depositions and trials for well over a year now; remote proceedings are\r\nan adequate substitute for personal attendance, particularly “in [this]\r\nspecific action.” The Motion to Compel Attendance is GRANTED IN PART—the Court\r\norders Collins to attend a remote deposition within the next 30 days. The\r\nMotion is DENIED IN PART as to the requested requirement of personal\r\nattendance. (CRC 3.1010(e).)

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Sanctions\r\n

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Target\r\nrequests the Court sanction Collins under CCP sec. 2025.450(g)(1), which\r\nprovides that “the court shall impose a monetary sanction . . . in favor of the\r\nparty who noticed the deposition and against the deponent or the party with\r\nwhom the deponent is affiliated, unless the court finds that the one subject to\r\nthe sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances\r\nmake the imposition of the sanction unjust.” (Motion, p. 11-12.) Target also\r\nrequests the Court impose sanctions under CCP sec. 2023.010 for “[f]ailing to\r\nrespond or submit to an authorized method of discovery.” The request for\r\nsanctions is DENIED. Collins acted with substantial justification in opposing\r\nthe instant Motion and declining to appear personally for depositions in order\r\nto protect her health. (CCP sec. 2025.450(g)(1).) Collins justifiably declined\r\nto submit to personal deposition and therefore did not misuse the discovery\r\nprocess. (CCP sec. 2023.010.) Target’s request for sanctions is therefore\r\nDENIED.

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Collins\'\r\nrequest for sanctions is also DENIED. Target\'s position in the Motion was\r\nsubstantially justified, if unmeritorious, given the legal authority\r\nestablishing the default requirement of personal attendance. (CRC 3.1010(c).)\r\nWhile that requirement may be waived under CRC 3.1010(e), this does not render\r\na request for personal appearance a misuse of the discovery process. (CCP sec.\r\n2023.010(h).) The Court was unpersuaded that the request for personal\r\nappearance "cause[d] unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression,\r\nor undue burden and expense." (CCP sec. 2023.010(c).)

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CONCLUSION

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The\r\nMotion to Compel Deposition Attendance is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.\r\nCollins shall remotely attend her deposition within the next 30 days. Personal\r\nattendance is not required.

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The\r\nrequests for sanctions are DENIED.

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Collins\r\nto give notice.

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If\r\ncounsel do not submit on the tentative, they are strongly encouraged to appear\r\nremotely rather than in person in view of COVID-19.

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[1] Due to the\r\ndiscretion afforded by Rule 3.1010(e), the Court does not find significant the\r\nfact that Target waited until “California was not requiring social distancing\r\nand did not have capacity limits indoor.” The Governor’s (perhaps temporary)\r\nrelief of social distancing and capacity requirements does not preclude the\r\nCourt from taking necessary steps “in a specific action” to ensure the safety\r\nof the immunocompromised. (CRC 3.1010(e).) In other words, the Court may\r\nprovide greater protections to litigants than the minimum provided by the\r\nGovernor’s executive orders on health matters (though of course could not\r\nprovide lesser protections).

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[2]\r\nWhile the Court cannot take judicial notice of the factual accuracy of the\r\nCDC\'s conclusions, the Court can take notice of the fact that CDC has publicly\r\nmade recommendations that immunocompromised persons take preventive measures\r\nagainst COVID-19 due to increased risk of hospitalization. The Court can also\r\ntake judicial notice that the CDC has publicly concluded the Delta variant is\r\nmore contagious than earlier variants of COVID-19. While the truth of the CDC\'s\r\nconclusions is not subject to judicial notice, the fact that the CDC reached\r\nthese conclusions is nonetheless relevant. (Jolley v. Chase Home Finance,\r\nLLC (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 872, 888-89.)

\r\n\r\n

Regardless, the Court finds the increased\r\ncontagiousness of the Delta variant and the increased vulnerability of the\r\nimmunocompromised to COVID-19 to be facts “that are of such common knowledge\r\nwithin the territorial jurisdiction of the court that they cannot reasonably be\r\nthe subject of dispute.” (Evid. Code sec. 452(g)-(h).) There are absolutely no\r\ngrounds to dispute either of these points. The Court therefore takes judicial\r\nnotice on its own motion of these facts in addition to judicial notice of the\r\nCDC’s conclusions (not the truth thereof).

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Case Number: 20STCV46744    Hearing Date: May 20, 2021    Dept: 20

Tentative Ruling

Judge Kevin C. Brazile

Department 20


Hearing Date: Thursday, May 20, 2021

Case Name: Shyjuanna Collins v. Target Corp., et al.

Case No.: 20STCV46744

Motion: Quash Subpoena

Moving Party: Plaintiff Collins

Responding Party: Defendant Target

Notice: OK


Ruling: The Motion to Quash is GRANTED.

Plaintiff to give notice.

If counsel do not submit on the tentative, they are encouraged to appear remotely rather than in person.


BACKGROUND

On December 8, 2020, Plaintiff Shyjuanna Collins filed a Complaint against Defendants Target Corporation, Michael Valentino, Margot Urey, Norma Lara, and Does 1-50, stating causes of action for race and national origin discrimination, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate the disability, failure to engage in the interactive process, retaliation or unlawful denial of CFRA leave, FEHA retaliation, FEHA harassment, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation, wrongful termination, and Labor Code causes of action arising out of her employment with Target from December 8, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

On January 19, 2021, Collins filed a First Amended Complaint against Defendants Target, Valentino, Urey, Lara, and Does 1-50.

On February 25, 2021, Target propounded a deposition subpoena for production of records on the Children’s Clinic, a third party where Dr. Peter Yeh treated Collins.

On March 17, 2021, Collins filed a Motion to Quash the Children's Clinic subpoena.

On May 3, 2021, Target filed an Opposition.

On May 7, 2021, Collins filed a Reply.

DISCUSSION

Applicable Law

“If a subpoena requires the . . . production of books, documents, electronically stored information, or other things . . . the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b) . . . may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders.” (CCP sec. 1987.1(a).) “In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.” (CCP sec. 1987.1(a).

“The state Constitution expressly grants Californians a right of privacy.” (Williams v. Superior Court (2017) 3 Cal.5th 531, 552; Cal. Const., Art. I, sec. 1.) “The party asserting a privacy right must establish a legally protected privacy interest, an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the given circumstances, and a threatened intrusion that is serious.” (Id.; see Hill v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1) A “legally protected privacy interest” includes “an interest ‘in precluding the dissemination or misuse of sensitive and confidential information (informational privacy).’” (Pioneer Electronics USA, Inc. v. Superior Court (2007) 40 Cal.4th 360, 370.) Confidential or sensitive information “is deemed private ‘when well-established social norms recognize the need to maximize individual control over its dissemination and use to prevent unjustified embarrassment or indignity.’” (Id.) “A ‘reasonable’ expectation of privacy is an objective entitlement founded on broadly based and widely accepted community norms.” (Id. at 371.) The claimed invasion of privacy “must be ‘serious’ in nature, scope, and actual or potential impact to constitute an ‘egregious’ breach of social norms,” not a “trivial invasion[.]” (Id.) In response, the propounding party “may raise . . . whatever legitimate and important countervailing interests disclosure serves,” to be balanced against any “feasible alternatives that serve the same interests or protective measures that would diminish the loss of privacy.” (Williams, supra, 3 Cal.5th at 552.)

Application to Facts

Target’s subpoena to the Children’s Clinic seeks, for the period January 1, 2011 to present, any and all "WRITINGS and ESI [electronically stored information] which evidence refer to, reflect, or constitute" or identify the following: (1) medical records pertaining to Collins (including "intake documents, patient questionnaires, patient history notes, clinical notes, results, surgical records, radiology reports, pathology reports, [and] laboratory test results"); (2) communications between the Children's Clinic and Collins; (3) evidence of Collins' "physical, mental, or emotional status or condition at any time"; (4) writings regarding the same; (5) evidence of "physical, mental, or emotional examinations or tests" of Collins and the results thereof; (6) evidence of “any treatment, therapy, prognosis, diagnosis, prescription, evaluation and/or examination” including “medical records, medical legal reports, intake documents, patient questionnaires, treatment records, patient diaries, psychological records, patient charts, and files”; (7) "notes" relating to Collins (including "therapy notes, patient history notes, clinical notes, and session, process, or progress notes"); (8) evaluations and opinions of Collins' "physical, mental, or emotional status or condition at any time"); (9) surgical procedures for Collins (including records such as "tests, notes, charts, results, or reports"); (10) appointment records for Collins' treatment, evaluation, and therapy; (11) test results and records for Collins (including "laboratory tests, blood chemistry tests, notes, charts, results, and reports"); (12) billing records and invoices regarding Collins; (13) referrals to or from other health care providers regarding Collins; (14) "reports or records" of other health care providers regarding Collins; (15) records of applications or claims by Collins for disability, social security, or other unemployment insurance benefits; (16) certification of Collins' disability and/or eligibility for workers' compensation benefits; (17) records regarding any restrictions on Collins' "employment activities"; (18) records regarding "any restriction, limitation, and/or inability of Collins to perform" major and/or daily life activities; and (19) prescription or OTC medication "prescribed, administered, suggested, or recommended" to Collins.

Collins’ Initial Showing

Collins argues Target’s subpoena is overbroad in seeking private health information not relevant to the claims asserted herein. Collins recognizes that stating a cause of action based on a medical condition or disability implies a partial waiver of the right to privacy as to matters "directly relevant" to and "essential to the fair resolution" of the claim. (See Vinson v. Superior Court (1987) 43 Cal.3d 833, 842; Harris v. Superior Court (1992) 3Cal.App.4th 661, 665.) However, Collins argues the subpoena exceeds this standard because (1) the time period in question (January 1, 2011 to present) is unjustifiably overbroad where she started working for Target on December 2, 2019, and (2) that there are no substantive limitations on the documents sought, essentially seeking her entire medical history with the Children’s Clinic.

At the outset, the Court finds Collins has a legitimate interest in the privacy of her medical records. Th California Constitution “protects against the unwarranted, compelled disclosure of various private or sensitive information regarding one's personal life [citation], including his or her financial affairs [citation], political affiliations [citation], medical history [citation], sexual relationships [citation], and confidential personnel information [citation].” (Tien v. Superior Court (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 528, 539 (emphasis added).) She has a reasonable expectation of privacy in her medical records and history except to the extent that history is “essential to the fair resolution of the lawsuit.” (Vinson, supra, 43 Cal.3d at 842.) “[T]he scope of such ‘waiver’ must be narrowly rather than expansively construed, so that plaintiffs will not be unduly deterred from instituting lawsuits by the fear of exposure.” (Id. (emphasis added)) The subpoena at issue would constitute a serious invasion of that reasonable expectation of privacy on its face, essentially an omnibus request for the last decade of records for Collins from the Children’s Clinic.

Target’s Showing

Thus, it is Target’s burden to “raise . . . [any] legitimate and important countervailing interests disclosure serves.” (Williams, supra, 3 Cal.5th at 552.) The Court considers “the purpose of the information sought, the effect that disclosure will have on the affected persons and parties, the nature of the objections urged by the party resisting disclosure and availability of alternative, less intrusive means for obtaining the requested information.” (Tien, supra, 139 Cal.App.4th at 539.) “[T]he more sensitive the nature of the personal information that is sought to be discovered, the more substantial the showing of the need for the discovery that will be required.” (Id. at 540; see Williams, supra, 3 Cal.5th at 553 (finding contact information “not particularly sensitive” compared to medical information.))

Here, Target argues the information sought “is ‘directly relevant’ and ‘essential to the fair resolution’ of the lawsuit.” Target argues Collins’ “medical, prescription, and treatment histories are all relevant” and argues it is “entitled to know the extent of the disabilities, including any medications she took for them or treatment she received,” “Plaintiff’s visit history and billing history,” evidence of past emotional distress for the last ten years, and evidence regarding Collins’ subsequent efforts to obtain work after termination. (Opposition, p. 11-12.) Target also argues it needs these records to dispute Collins’ allegation that “she was diagnosed with two medical conditions [lupus and diabetes] at some point prior to her hire date in December 2019,” arguing this justifies the request for “information pre-dating Plaintiff’s hire date and pre-dating Plaintiff’s 2020 leave of absence.” (Opposition, p. 10.) Target points out Collins’ discovery responses failed to identify any medical providers other than Dr. Yeh at the Children’s Clinic and, rather than providing supporting documentation, instead referred Target to Plaintiff’s medical provider. (Howard Decl., Exh. A-B.)

Target cites Vinson as holding that a “plaintiff’s prior and current ‘mental and emotional condition is directly relevant to her claims [for emotional distress damages] and essential to a fair resolution of her suit.” (Opposition, p. 12 (citing Vinson, supra, 43 Cal.3d at 842.) However, the Vinson court did not reach that conclusion. Vinson held that the “Plaintiff's present mental and emotional condition is directly relevant to her claim and essential to a fair resolution of her suit,” finding she “waived her right to privacy in this respect by alleging continuing mental ailments,” thereby putting her current mental condition at issue (Id. at 842.)

In re Lifschutz (1970) 2 Cal.3d 420 also does not support Target’s position. In Lifschutz, the plaintiff alleged “‘mental and emotional distress’ arising out of a physical assault [without] specifically identify[ing] the nature of the ‘mental or emotional condition’ at issue.” (Id. at 436.) In so alleging, the “plaintiff obviously neither disclosed his entire medical history of treatment for mental or emotional conditions nor realistically waived his interest in maintaining the confidentiality of that treatment”—contrary to a claim of entitlement to Plaintiff’s medication and treatment history vis-à-vis emotional distress damages. (Id. (emphasis added).) The Lifschutz court merely found “the possibility that some feature of plaintiff’s psychological history will be directly relevant to . . . whether his emotional or mental distress can be properly attributed to the alleged assault.” (Id.) The court could not determine “whether plaintiff’s . . . distress is merely the ‘normal’ distress experienced as a result of physical assault or whether it includes unusual or particularly serious elements upon which prior history may be directly relevant.” (Id. (emphasis added).)

Here, Collins asserts emotional distress arising out of her termination—an entirely normal cause of distress given the facts alleged—and Target is merely speculating that her emotional distress may have preexisted to support an omnibus medical records request. This is an insufficient showing that the discovery is so essential and directly relevant as to override the right to privacy. The scope of a waiver of privacy, including as to emotional distress, “must be narrowly rather than expansively construed, so that plaintiffs will not be unduly deterred from instituting lawsuits by the fear of exposure.” (Vinson, supra, 43 Cal.3d at 842.) This request, and speculative assertions that Collins may be lying or lacking credibility, do not support a finding that Collins waived her interest in the privacy of ten years of virtually any medical records.

Next, Target argues the medical records predating allegations of unlawful activity are directly relevant to Collins’ credibility because they may "reveal not only an alternate source of her emotional, mental, and physical condition [or injuries], but also whether [she] has made misrepresentations in this lawsuit." (Opposition, p. 14.) Target also argues there is a facial credibility concern in Collins seeing Dr. Yeh of the Children's Clinic "given that he is a children's doctor and she is a 40-year old adult." (Opposition, p. 14 (emphasis original).) However, this is highly speculative—there is no evidence before the Court that Dr. Yeh only treats children and no factual basis to conclude production of Collins’ entire medical history with the Children’s Clinic is “essential” merely because it may impinge on her credibility. The bare interest in challenging Collins’ credibility, without some showing that the discovery is likely to impinge on it, does not overcome her constitutional right to privacy here, particularly given the overbreadth of the subpoena.

The Court recognizes Target’s position that this broad discovery is warranted because Collins has only identified a single medical provider, the Children’s Clinic, for Target to investigate. But Target has not shown justification for the ten-year scope of its discovery or any basis to conclude Collins’ records from the Children’s Clinic will impact her credibility. Even where there is one source for third-party discovery, the discovery must be appropriately tailored if the information sought is constitutionally protected. The instant subpoena was not sufficiently tailored to the facts of this case or Collins’ legitimate privacy interests.

Finally, Target argues any privacy objections raised are sufficiently addressed by the parties' protective order entered March 8, 2021 because it "is willing to mark all responsive documents as 'confidential'" under that order. (Howard Decl., para. 2.) In response, Collins argues this does not protect her privacy rights because Target itself would still have access to documents it lacks entitlement to review. The Court concurs—Target has not established entitlement to the broad range of documents sought and there is no indication from either party as to how the subpoena could be narrowed to address Collins’ concerns.

Reply Arguments

In the Reply, Collins argues Lonicki v. Sutter Health Central (2008) 43 Cal.4th 201 precludes Target from seeking further information regarding her disability. (Reply, p. 2.) Gov. Code section 12945(k)(1) “limits the type of information that an employer can require an employee to provide in a certification” and precludes the employer from denying a request for medical leave “for failing to provide” information beyond what is required. (Id. at 211.) “This statutory provision also limits an employer's right, in litigation arising out of an employee's medical leave request, to claim that the employer acted reasonably because the information provided by the employee was inadequate.” (Id.) “If an employer fires an employee who has given the employer a facially valid certification in support of a request for medical leave and the employee then sues for violation of the CFRA, the employer may not defend the suit by asserting that the employee, when requesting leave, provided insufficient evidence that the employee fell within the provisions of the CFRA.” (Id. (emphasis added))

However, the Lonicki court concluded there is nothing in this section which “estops the employer from denying in the litigation that the employee suffered from a serious health condition” when sued for denial of CFRA leave. (Id. at 212.) This is precisely the information Target seeks—records supporting its argument that Collins in fact did not suffer from a disability, contrary to her certification. Target is not arguing Collins initially provided inadequate information, but rather that Collins provided potentially false information which Target seeks to dispute in litigation. Nothing in Lonicki precludes this argument. (See id. at 213 (finding employer not barred “from asserting, in this litigation, that it was justified in firing plaintiff because she did not meet the statutory requirement of having a serious health condition that made her unable to do her job.”)) Further, the statutes Collins relies upon regarding minimum information for a CFRA certification are simply inapposite as they solely govern production of information by the employee to the employer before litigation. (Reply, p. 3-5.)

Collins additionally argues the Opposition was late-filed and should not be considered. However, no prejudice was shown from this late filing given that Collins filed a full Reply. The Court therefore considered it above and concluded the Motion should nonetheless be granted—further showing that Collins was not prejudiced.

CONCLUSION

The Motion to Quash is GRANTED.

Plaintiff to give notice.

If counsel do not submit on the tentative, they are encouraged to appear remotely rather than in person.

Case Number: 20STCV46744    Hearing Date: May 14, 2021    Dept: 20

Tentative Ruling

Judge Kevin C. Brazile

Department 20


Hearing Date: Friday, May 14, 2021

Case Name: Shyjuanna Collins v. Target Corp., et al.

Case No.: 20STCV46744

Motion: Quash Subpoena

Moving Party: Plaintiff Collins

Responding Party: Defendant Target

Notice: OK


Ruling: The Motion to Quash is CONTINUED to May 20, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 20 of the Stanley Mosk courthouse.

Target to give notice.


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