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Nunez v. Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 20, 2019

Karina Nunez
v.
Keurig Dr. Pepper, Inc., et al.

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

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Compel Mental Examination of Plaintiff Karina Nunez [Dkt. 31]

         On October 30, 2019, Defendants Keurig Dr. Pepper, Inc. (“KDP”) and Motts, LLP (“Motts”) (collectively, “Defendants”) filed a Motion to Compel (“Motion”) seeking to compel a mental examination of Plaintiff Karina Nunez (“Plaintiff”). Dkt. 31. The parties filed a Joint Stipulation pursuant to Local Rule 37-2 setting forth their positions. Dkt. 32. Defendants argue Plaintiff has put her mental health “in controversy” and there is good cause for the mental examination. Plaintiff argues she is seeking only “garden variety” emotional damages and a mental examination is, therefore, not warranted. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 29, 2018, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit in San Bernardino County Superior Court against Defendant KDP alleging causes of action for (1) Retaliation (Labor Code § 1102.5); (2) Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy; (3) Sexual Harassment (Gov. Code § 12940(j)); and (4) Failure to Prevent Sexual Harassment (Gov. Code §12940(k)). ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 4-1. On January 2, 2019, defendant KDP removed the action to this Court. Dkt. 1.

         On January 22, 2019, defendant KDP propounded initial written discovery on Plaintiff. Dkt. 31-1 at 3-5, Declaration of Amber L. Roller (“Roller Decl.”), ¶ 2. On February 20, 2019, Plaintiff served verified responses to Defendant KDP. Id. In her responses to Interrogatories Nos. 16 and 17, Plaintiff states she is seeking approximately $61, 022.00 in past and future lost wages and $200, 000.00 in emotional distress damages. Id., Ex. 1.

         On March 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against both Defendants alleging the same causes of action. Dkt. 16. Plaintiff alleges she was unlawfully terminated by Defendants from her employment for reporting sexual harassment. Id., ¶¶ 10-25. Plaintiff alleges, “The unlawful harassment and termination caused Plaintiff mental and emotional distress including anxiety, stress, depression, shame, embarrassment, and humiliation.” Id., ¶ 24. Plaintiff alleges her “damages include, but are not limited to, loss of earnings and benefits, humiliation, embarrassment, severe mental and emotional distress and discomfort.” Id., ¶ 32. In addition, Plaintiff alleges “[a]s a direct, foreseeable, and proximate result of Defendants' acts, Plaintiff . . . has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, and discomfort, all to Plaintiff's damage in an amount to be proven at trial, but which are in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of this court.” Id., ¶¶ 38, 43, 50.

         On April 5, 2019, Defendants filed an Answer to the FAC. Dkt. 20.

         On April 15, 2019, the Court issued a Civil Trial Scheduling Order setting a fact discovery cut-off date of December 2, 2019. Dkt. 21.

         On September 26, 2019, Defendants deposed Plaintiff. Roller Decl., ¶ 3, Ex. 2 (excerpts from Plaintiff's deposition). At her deposition, Plaintiff disclosed that, in June 2019, she sought counseling for emotional distress she attributed to Defendants' alleged wrongful conduct and the recent deaths of her brother-in-law and god-daughter. Id., Ex. 2 at depo. 130:8-20, 132:22-134:7; 136:17-25. Plaintiff explained the doctor she saw in June 2019 was her first and only visit to a doctor for mental health issues and she did not attend the therapy he recommended. Dkt. 31-7, Declaration of Mitchell J. Murray (“Murray Decl.”), ¶ 2, Ex. 1 (excerpts from Plaintiff's deposition) at 131:9-22. Plaintiff stated her depression began about a month after her termination and stated she was “more depressed” at the time of her deposition. Roller Decl., Ex. 2 at depo. 139:15-21.

         On October 9, 2019, Defendants' counsel requested that Plaintiff stipulate to a mental examination. Roller Decl., ¶ 4. On October 15, 2019, Plaintiff's counsel sent Defendants' counsel an email stating Plaintiff would not stipulate to a mental examination. Id., Ex. 3.

         On October 28, 2019, the Court granted the parties' stipulation to continue the expert discovery cut-off to January 31, 2020. Dkt. 30.

         On October 30, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Motion seeking to compel a mental examination of Plaintiff along with a Joint Stipulation pursuant to Local Rule 37-2 setting forth the parties' respective positions. Dkt. 31, Mot.; Dkt. 32, JS. Defendants seek to have Plaintiff examined by Dr. Judy Ho, a licensed psychologist, [1] and that the examination consist of “a detailed clinical interview and mental status examination, a review of medical records, and the administration of appropriate generally accepted standardized ...


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