Note: This is an unpublished decision. Check your jurisdiction’s rules about citing unpublished decisions before citing this case to a court.
Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Ansonia-Milford
November 05, 2007
Tieman & Schneider, Shelton, for Cheryl Olah.
Durant Nichols Houston Hodgson & Co, Bridgeport, for Brooklawn Country Club, Inc.
Durant Nichols Houston Hodgson & Co, Durant Nichols Houston Hodgson & Co, Bridgeport, for Judy Barbagallo.
*1 On October 1, 2007, the defendants, Brooklawn County Club, Inc. (Brooklawn) and Barbara Bargagallo, filed a motion to compel the plaintiff, Cheryl Olah, to respond to the defendants' first set of interrogatories and requests for production. The defendants argue that a motion to compel is proper because the plaintiff's objections were untimely. The defendants are requesting that the plaintiff produce all documents relating to her 2004 and 2005 tax returns, her entire cellular and telephone records for 2004 and 2005, and request that the plaintiff turn over her personal computer for inspection to retrieve relevant documents and to determine what caused it to crash.
The objections were filed with the court on April 4, 2007. Although filed after the due date, the objections were sustained by the court on April 4, 2007. Practice Book § 1-8 provides: “The design of these rules being to facilitate business and advance justice, they will be interpreted liberally in any case where it shall be manifest that a strict adherence to them will work surprise or injustice.” “The Connecticut Supreme Court historically has placed a liberal interpretation upon the rules of discovery.” Housing Authority v. Boyd, 36 Conn.Sup. 47, 49, 410 A.2d 494 (1979); see also Sanderson v. Steve Snyder Enterprises, Inc., 196 Conn. 134, 140, 491 A.2d 389 (1985) (holding that Connecticut has liberal discovery policies and practices). “The rules are not set in stone. Every case has to be considered separately, but the spirit of the rules is more greatly enhanced by liberal discovery.” Vargas v. Yale-New Haven Hospital, 47 Conn.Sup. 1, 4, 768 A.2d 967 (2000) [37 Conn. L. Rptr. 135].
1. The defendants are requesting all documents relating to the plaintiff's 2004 and 2005 tax returns in order to find any sources of income that may have prevented the plaintiff from working overtime for Brooklawn. Although the plaintiff is willing to produce the first page of her tax returns, she objects to having to produce the remaining materials because the information is irrelevant, personal and confidential. Connecticut courts have shown a reluctance to require production of tax returns even when the information is relevant. See Karwoski v. Rappa, 25 Conn.Sup. 147, 147-48, 198 A.2d 226 (1964) (sustaining plaintiff's objection to production of tax returns because the relevant information from the tax returns may be obtained elsewhere); Opotzner v. Bass,
Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Docket No. 96 254963 (December 30, 1998, Beach, J.) (23 Conn. L. Rptr. 565) (holding that “[p]roduction of personal and corporate income tax returns and 1099 forms is not required. Although there arguably is some relevance to the information, there is also an expectation of confidentiality in tax returns which is not to be lightly ignored”). The information sought by the defendants in the tax returns may be obtained just as easily by interrogatory or by deposition. The plaintiff's objection to production of all documents relating to her 2004 and 2005 tax returns is sustained, except with regard to the first page of the tax returns, which the plaintiff is ordered to produce within fourteen days of this order pursuant to § 13-10(c).
*2 2. The defendants have also requested the plaintiff's phone records because the plaintiff relied on such information to help determine her overtime hours. The defendants also claim that a complete telephone record could help to counter some of the plaintiff's overtime claims. Although the plaintiff is willing to produce redacted phone records revealing relevant work calls, the plaintiff objects to giving the defendants a complete copy of her entire phone record because the defendants never specifically asked for the records in a discovery request and complete production would necessitate revealing her mother's confidential phone records. Although the phone records may reveal relevant information, the court recognizes the plaintiff's privacy concerns and the potentially burdensome task of protecting her mother's privacy by review and further redaction of the records. Therefore, the plaintiff's objection to production of her entire 2004 and 2005 phone records is sustained, except with regard to the redacted records that the plaintiff has already agreed to provide. These redacted records are ordered to be produced within fourteen days of the date of this order pursuant to § 13-10(c).
3. Additionally, the defendants seek to examine the plaintiff's computer because they want to recover relevant documents and investigate the cause of the computer crash. The plaintiff contends that the defendants should not get broad access to her personal computer because the defendants can obtain many of the relevant documents from other sources. Although the court is aware of the defendants' spoliation concerns, the plaintiff correctly points out that courts are reluctant to grant a party access to an opposing party's personal computer. See Geer v. The Gilman Corp.,
United States District Court, Docket No. 3:06 CV 889 (D.Conn. February 2, 2007) (holding that defendant may not investigate plaintiff's computer because such action would be overly drastic under the circumstances). The plaintiff's objection to the defendants' request to search her computer is sustained. The plaintiff, however, is ordered to produce all relevant documents from the computer, and if it is claimed that no such documents are recoverable, the plaintiff must produce an affidavit from a qualified technology expert explaining the reasons for lack of recovery.
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