United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge.
are employees of the Shreve Memorial Library who filed this
civil action against the library and city officials to
complain of employment discrimination. Before the court is
the Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 87), which seeks
an order from this court compelling defendant Shreve Memorial
Library to produce responses to requests for production and
interrogatories. For the reasons that follow, the motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
at the Library
No. 2, Plaintiffs request copies of all investigative reports
and summaries thereof prepared by or for library
administrators concerning “problems” at the
Hamilton South Caddo Branch (HSCB) of the library during the
relevant time period. Defendants objected to the request as
overly broad, unduly burdensome, vague, and ambiguous.
Defendants also asserted that the request sought confidential
grievance and investigation documents concerning persons who
were not parties to the lawsuit.
Nos. 4 and 5 (which are almost identical), Plaintiffs request
all library intra-office communications addressing
“problems” at HSCB and the West Shreveport Branch
at any time in the past ten years. Defendants objected to the
requests as overly broad, unduly burdensome, vague as to the
term “problems, ” and ambiguous.
response to these three requests, counsel for Defendants
agreed to produce responsive documents subject to a
protective order that would require the records to be treated
as confidential and not be divulged or used outside of this
litigation. Plaintiffs argue that, although they are
requesting the documents pursuant to the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, a protective order for the documents would
not be necessary because the documents are subject to the
Louisiana Public Records Law, La. R.S. 44:1 et seq, and could
be obtained by anyone who requests them pursuant to that law.
Plaintiff cites In re Kemp, 32 So.3d 1050, 1054
(La.App. 2d Cir. 2010), which states, “When doubt
exists about the right to access certain records, the doubt
must be resolved in favor of the public's right to see. A
claim of annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burdens or expense is not enough to overcome the public's
right of access to public records.”
respond that grievance records and other records regarding
comments or complaints about a particular employee's
work-related problems are not subject to mandatory production
under the Public Records Law. Defendants cite Trahan v.
Larivee, 365 So.2d 294, 299 (La.App. 3d Cir. 1978), in
which the court held that performance ratings completed by
employee supervisors are protected by the right to privacy
where such reports include detailed comments of the rater
concerning an employee's personal attitude and
attributes. Defendants also cite Brock v. State, Dept. of
Environmental Quality, 761 So.2d 713 (La.App. 1st Cir.
2000), in which the court held that grievance records that
contained information with the potential to cause
embarrassment to various individuals due to the private
nature of the concerns raised therein were not subject to
disclosure pursuant to a public records request. Defendants
argue that there is no reason why complaints or grievances by
employees about persons who are not parties to the suit
should be given less protection than performance ratings and
personal comments. Defendants also point out that protective
orders that limit access to non-party personnel records are
often granted in cases that do not involve public entities.
Soule v. RSC Equipment Rental, Inc., 2012 WL 425166
(E.D. La. 2012).
requests for information regarding “problems” at
the HSCB is very vague. However, through the briefs, it has
become apparent that Plaintiffs are probably seeking only
employment-related grievances made by other employees at the
library and any investigations that resulted. In any event,
the court will limit these requests to information regarding
employment-related grievances made by other employees at the
library. Grievances of any other nature are not relevant.
Defendant is ordered to respond as follows: Defendant shall
produce the information in its possession, custody, or
control regarding each such grievance during the relevant
time period without the need for a protective order, but
Defendant shall redact the personal identifiers of the
complaining employees or former employees and assign a number
to each so that each grievance may be referenced
individually. Other information in the employees'
personnel files need not be produced.
No. 7, Plaintiffs seek production of the directive to, and
the final report of, Gayla Godfrey as part of her
investigation into the operation of HSCB. Plaintiffs contend
that Godfrey investigated alleged improprieties at the
branch. As part of the investigation, she interviewed all
employees confidentially and prepared a report to send to all
interested parties. Plaintiffs allege that Director John
Tuggle relied on the report to remove all of the managers at
the branch, including the three defendants, from their
argue that the requested documents are subject to production
pursuant to Louisiana Public Records law. Plaintiffs argue
that according to Hilbun v. State ex rel Div. of
Admin., 745 So.2d 1189 (La.App. 1st Cir. 1999), the
Godfrey report does not fall within a statutory exception,
and employees interviewed during an investigation have no
constitutional right to privacy regarding contents of their
interviews. In Hilbun, the plaintiff was an employee
for the State of Louisiana, Division of Administration
(“DOA”) Id. at 1189-90. The DOA
contracted with an investigator to explore allegations of
improprieties against the plaintiff. The investigator
interviewed plaintiff and parties named in the complaint and
provided a written report detailing his findings.
Id. at 1190. The plaintiff sought disclosure of the
report pursuant to public records law. Id. The First
Circuit held that although the disclosure of the report would
cause those questioned about plaintiff's conduct
“discomfort, ” the facts concerning the daily
operation of the DOA are not protected from disclosure
because they are not private in nature. Id. The
court stated that a Louisiana public employee “has no
reason to expect that his or her interviews concerning
personnel problems will be kept private.” Id.
However, the court did note that private matters contained in
the report “may not be disclosable if disclosure would
expose the employee to public disgrace or would constitute an
unreasonable invasion into a person's seclusion,
solitude, or private life.” Id.
their response, Defendants point out that it was counsel for
the library who hired the outside investigator, rather than
the library itself. Defendants argue that, if they release
the report, Plaintiffs may be able to claim that Defendants
have waived the attorney-client privilege with respect to any
other communications between counsel and the library.
Defendants claim that they are willing to produce the
protected document if Plaintiffs will stipulate that the
production does not constitute a waiver of attorney-client