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Kuklinski v. Lew

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

April 13, 2017

ANTHONY A. KUKLINSKI PLAINTIFF
v.
JACOB J. LEW, Secretary of the United States Treasury DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVE WHALIN, MAGISTRATE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on a “Motion to Extend Discovery for a Limited Purpose” (DN 72) filed by Plaintiff Anthony A. Kuklinski (“Kuklinski”). Defendant Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the United States Treasury Department (“Treasury”), has responded (DN 74), and Kuklinski has replied (DN 78). The parties disagree as to whether Kuklinski should be permitted to extend the discovery period to take four additional depositions in this Title VII case. For the following reasons, Kuklinski's motion to extend discovery is granted in part and denied in part.

         Background

         Anthony Kuklinski worked for many years as an Inspector with the U.S. Mint Police at the U.S. Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky (“U.S. Mint Facility”) where he supervised almost sixty employees, including shift lieutenants, shift sergeants, and subordinate officers. (DN 1, at ¶ 7-8). According to Kuklinski, in 2008, a female subordinate officer complained to him that another officer was sexually harassing her. (Id. at ¶ 8). After conducting an investigation on her complaint, Kuklinski recommended the harassing officer be removed from his position. (Id. at ¶ 10-12). Kuklinski additionally advised the harassed officer that she could seek assistance from an EEO counselor to remedy the workplace harassment. (Id. at ¶ 11-12). The female officer subsequently filed a formal complaint with the EEOC. (Id. at ¶ 13). Kuklinski provided a declaration to the EEOC's investigator that expressed his concerns over the potential sexual harassment and hostile work environment. (Id. at ¶ 13-14).

         During the EEOC's ongoing inquiry into the harassment claim, the Treasury placed Kuklinski under administrative investigation based on accusations that he maintained an “inappropriate social relationship” with the female officer that reported harassment. (Id. at ¶ 17). This “administrative investigation” was terminated after the accusations were found to be unsubstantiated. (Id. at ¶ 18).

         In April of 2011, the Treasury began a separate investigation of Kuklinski, through its Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) and the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”), based on “possible misconduct” unearthed in Kuklinski's routine security-clearance update. (Id. at ¶ 19). During this investigation, the Treasury stripped Kuklinski of his supervisory authority and law enforcement power, reassigning him to an administrative position. (Id.). Kuklinski states that the Treasury relocated his workspace to a maintenance building, where he either had to use a work bench for a desk or work from the building's break room. (Id.).

         Almost seven months into this investigation, the Treasury officially suspended Kuklinski's security clearance and access to classified information. (Id. at ¶ 20). In March of 2012, the Treasury lifted the suspension and reinstated Kuklinski's security clearance and access to classified information but did not restore his supervisory authority. (Id. at ¶ 23). Rather than returning him to his previous workspace, Kuklinski claims the Treasury converted a storage room in the maintenance building into his new office. (Id.). The same day his suspension ended, Kuklinski received notice of “directed reassignment” from his duty location in Fort Knox, Kentucky, to the United States Mint Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Id. at ¶ 24). Kuklinski states that if he refused the directed reassignment, his employment with the U.S. Mint would be terminated. (Id. at ¶ 35).

         After pursuing his case with the EEOC, Kuklinski commenced this action. He asserts that the Treasury violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1962 (Count I), sought to create working conditions so intolerable as to force his resignation (Count II), and breached a mediation agreement (Count III). (Id. at ¶ 42-29, 50-57; DN 83, at ¶ 66-71).

         In January of 2015, the Treasury sought partial dismissal of the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (DN 38). The Court granted the Treasury's motion in part, dismissing Kuklinski's Title VII claims “to the extent they challenge the merits underlying the decisions to investigate and suspend his security clearance” based on Dep't of the Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988). (DN 43, at p. 9). The Court specified that “[i]n all other respects, [Kuklinski's] claims remain intact.” (Id.).

         The original deadline for the parties to complete discovery in the case was December 9, 2016. (DN 52). On that date, Kuklinski filed the instant “motion for extension of time to complete discovery for a limited purpose.” (DN 72). Kuklinski seeks a sixty-day extension of discovery to take the depositions of Lester A. Leach and Irwin Ansher and the Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6) depositions of the U.S. Mint and the Treasury OIG. (Id.). The Treasury urges the Court to deny this motion.

         Standard

         Under Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when an act “may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time” if the request is made “before the original time or its extension expires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(A). In the instant case, the request for extension was made on the date of the discovery deadline. As such, Kuklinski must demonstrate good cause for the Court to grant an extension.

         The Court has wide discretion in dealing with discovery matters, including its evaluation of “good cause” for a deadline extension. See S.S. v. E. Ky. Univ., 532 F.3d 445, 451 (6th Cir. 2008); Chrysler Corp. v. Fedders Corp.,643 F.3d 1229, 1240 (6th Cir. 1981). The “scope of discovery” encompasses “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevance is to be “construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on” any party's claim or defense. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978) (citation omitted). In analyzing proportionality, the Court must consider the need for the information sought based upon “the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the ...


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