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O'Malley v. Public Belt Railroad Commission for City of New Orleans

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 6, 2018

BRIAN O'MALLEY
v.
PUBLIC BELT RAILROAD COMMISSION FOR THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

         SECTION: “H” (1)

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO JUDGE

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANIS VAN MEERVELD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Motion to Compel filed by Public Belt Railroad Commission for the City of New Orleans (“NOPB”). (Rec. Doc. 41). For the following reasons, the Motion to Compel is DENIED. Oral argument set for February 7, 2018, is hereby cancelled.

         Background

         This case arises out of an incident that occurred on March 19, 2017, at approximately 10:30 a.m. when O'Malley says he was struck by a locomotive. At the time of the incident, O'Malley was employed by the Public Belt Railroad Commission for the City of New Orleans (“NOPB”) as a switchman/freight conductor. O'Malley alleges that on the day of the incident, there were two work crews, one working on the interchange lead (Job 100R) and one working on the switching lead (Job 102). O'Malley was working on the Job 100R crew, and says he was struck by the east facing Job 102 locomotive while he was performing his assigned duties. He complains that he did not hear any bell, whistle, or other warning that Job 102 was moving. He says that the two crews should have been using the same radio channel so that he might have received notice that the Job 102 locomotive was moving. O'Malley alleges that he suffered severe and debilitating injuries to his lower back, ribs, and left side of the body as a result of the accident.

         He filed this lawsuit on May 9, 2017, asserting claims under the Federal Employer's Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51 (“FELA”). He seeks to recover his expenses incurred for medical treatment and for his future medical expenses. He claims he suffered emotional injury, lost wages, and mental pain and anguish. He also seeks to recover lost past and future wages, benefits, and earning capacity. He claims that his injuries may be permanent resulting in a loss of life's pleasures.

         Discovery Issue

         Two of NOPB's requests for production of documents are at issue here. Request for Production 13 asks O'Malley to produce

all documents relating to your financial information from March 19, 2017 to the present including, but not limited to, checks that you have received, your saving and checking bank account(s) statements, your credit card(s) statements, and your debit card(s) statements.

         Request for Production 14 asks O'Malley to produce “all documents relating to all activity on your social media accounts identified in Interrogatory No. 21 from March 19, 2017 to the present.” NOPB insists that the financial request are relevant to the alleged expenses claimed by O'Malley. NOPB adds the financial records could be relevant to O'Malley's physical activity. NOPB says social networking data is relevant to O'Malley's alleged physical and emotional injuries because it may show his post-accident activities and his emotional state. NOPB notes that its requests have a narrow time frame.

         O'Malley insists that NOPB's request for financial information is overbroad. He points out that he has not claimed “related expenses.” The past medical expenses he claims are reflected in his medical bills. The possibility that his financial records would show his post-accident activity, he insists, does not justify the onerous and obtrusive request for these records. With regard to his social media activity, O'Malley points out that courts do not typically allow unfettered access to social networking records as sought by NOPB here.

         Law and Analysis

         1. ...


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