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Loof v. Upland Unified School District

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 15, 2019

Rite Loof, et al.
v.
Upland Unified School District

          Present: The Honorable KENLY KIYA KATO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings: Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Compel Production of Mental Health Records and for Discovery Sanctions [Dkt. 26]

         On October 18, 2019, Defendant Upland Unified School District ("Defendant") riled a Motion to Compel Production of Mental Health Records ("Motion") seeking to compel Plaintiff Rachel Loof ("Rachel") to execute authorizations to release her mental health records from her therapist Stacy Donaldson (formerly Maggard) ("Donaldson") and Kaiser Permanence ("Kaiser"). ECF Docket No. ("Dkt.") 26. Defendant also seeks $9, 744.00 in attorneys' fees incurred in seeking to obtain the mental health records and bringing die instant Motion. Dkts. 26, 28. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is granted and Defendant's request for attorney's fees incurred in bringing the Motion is granted in part.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 6, 2019, Plaintiffs Rachel Loof, Rita Loof, and Rene Loof ("Plaintiffs") filed a Complaint seeking damages for retaliation under the Americans wkh Disabilities Act ("ADA"), damages for breach of contract, and enforcement of the parties' settlement agreement. Dkt. 1. Rachel was identified as a student with a disability and received special education and related services from Defendant while a student diere. Id.. ¶ 10. Rachel graduated from high school in June 2014 and began studies at Cal Polv. Id., ¶¶ 9, 25. Plaintiffs allege a delay in providing an agreed-upon assessment to "fully assess and identify all of Rachel's educational needs" resulted in Rachel being unable to provide documentation of her disabilities to university staff and professors so that she could obtain necessary accommodations. Id., ¶¶ 15, 24. Plaintiffs allege "Rachel has developed anxiety as a result of her inability to access an education without necessary accommodations [, ] has been unable to complete educational requirements, to timely and reasonably earn credits towards a college degree, and, as a direct result, has been delayed in her ability to enter the workforce and be a productive citizen.” Id., ¶ 39.

         On March 21, 2019, Defendant filed an Answer. Dkt. 10.

         On May 10, 2019, the Court issued a Scheduling Order setting a discovery cut-off (including hearing of discovery motions) of January 6, 2020 and trial for May 12, 2020. Dkt. 19.

         On September 16, 2019, Defendant served a subpoena on Kaiser seeking:

Any medical and hospital records pertaining to RACHEL LOOF (DOB: . . ., SSN . . .), in paper, photographic, microfilm or any electronic form, for diagnosis, treatment, counseling for any medical or mental condition including psychiatric, psychological, or drug dependency, related to or regarding conditions of stress, anxiety, panic attacks, eczema, and “feelings of academic inadequacy and feelings of an external locus of control, ” from 2009 to the present.

Dkt. 26-1, Declaration of Shiva Stein (“Stein Decl.”), Ex. 4.

         On September 17 and 18, 2019, Defendant's counsel sent Plaintiffs' counsel several emails seeking to determine whether Rachel would agree to sign authorizations releasing her records from Kaiser and her therapist, Donaldson. Stein Decl., ¶¶ 6, 7, Exs. 6-8. Plaintiffs' counsel did not respond.

         On September 23, 2019, Defendant served a subpoena on Donaldson seeking:

Any and all records pertaining to RACHEL LOOF (DOB: . . ., SSN . . .), in paper, photographic, microfilm or any electronic form for diagnosis, treatment, counseling and or therapy records for any medical or mental condition including psychiatric, psychological, or drug dependency regarding and/or related to stress, anxiety, panic attacks and eczema, from 2009 to the present.

         Stein Decl., Ex. 3.

         On September 23, 2019, Defendant's counsel sent Plaintiffs' counsel a meet and confer letter by email attaching a proposed authorization for Donaldson and an authorization required by Kaiser. Stein Decl., ¶ 8, Ex. 9. Plaintiffs' counsel responded that evening, stating: “Of course. And the release I have had Rachel Loof sign is attached.” Stein Decl., Ex. 9. However, the only release attached to the email from Plaintiffs' counsel stated: “I, the undersigned, hereby authorize Gunn Psychological Services, including Stacy Maggard and Dr. Timothy Gunn to communicate with the following Persons: Name: Tania Whiteleather.” Id.

         On September 24, 2019, Defendant's counsel sent Plaintiffs' counsel an email reflecting her confusion regarding the authorization attached to Plaintiffs' counsel's September 23, 2019 email and requesting Rachel execute the authorizations for Kaiser and Donaldson. Id., Ex. 10. Plaintiffs' counsel promptly responded objecting to the requested one-day turn around on the authorizations and stating she “hop[ed] to have it to” Defendant's counsel later that day. Id., Ex. 11. Defendant's counsel responded stating she has been attempting to obtain authorizations since early September and thanked Plaintiffs' counsel for agreeing to provide the authorizations. Id. Plaintiffs' counsel responded and explained: “I had asked Rachel to create a release and then, when I was out of the office yesterday at mediation, asked that it be forwarded to you. My apologies for the unanticipated limitation of that release; it was not what I had asked for but was not reviewed by me in my haste to get it to you.” Id.

         On October 1, 2019, Defendant's counsel sent Plaintiffs' counsel an email requesting a status update on the authorizations. Stein Decl., Ex. 12. Plaintiffs' counsel promptly responded attaching releases for Kaiser and Donaldson. Id., Ex. 13. However, the authorizations were not on the forms provided, but were re-typed, contained various typos, permitted disclosure to Defendant's counsel three days after production to Plaintiffs' counsel, expired in two weeks (instead of one year), and limited the records to be released as follows:

Any and all medical and hospital records pertaining to Rachel Loof (DOB: . . ., SSN . . .) in paper, photographic, microfilm, or any electronic for, for diagnosis, treatment, counseling for any medical or mental condition including psychiatric, psychological, or drug dependency, related to or regarding conditions of stress, anxiety, panic attacks, exczema, and “feelings of academic inadequacy and feelings of an external locus of control, ” as related to academic performance from 2014 to the present.

Id., Ex. 13 (emphasis added). Defendant's counsel sent Plaintiffs' counsel an email objecting to the added limitations and requesting again that Rachel sign the authorizations previously provided by Kaiser and Donaldson. Id.

         On October 10, 2019, Plaintiffs' counsel emailed Defendant's counsel a second set of authorizations. Stein Decl., Ex. 5. However, the authorizations were not on the forms provided by Kaiser or Donaldson, expired ...


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