United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MILOWE ANGER DAVID V. SIMUNOVICH OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY
On behalf of Plaintiff United States of America.
M. HOFFMAN, ANDREW M. ERDLEN, HANGLEY ARONCHICK SEGAL PUDLIN
& SCHILLER On behalf of Defendant Nobel Learning
Communities d/b/a Chesterbrook Academy.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns Defendant's alleged violation of Title III
of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(“ADA”). Presently before the Court is
Defendant's Objection to Discovery Order Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72.
Objection will be denied for the reasons that follow.
Court takes its facts from Plaintiff's January 18, 2017
complaint and various letters, opinions, orders, and
transcripts concerning the discovery dispute. Defendant Nobel
Learning Communities (“NLC”) is the owner and
operator of the Chesterbrook Academy
(“Chesterbrook”) in Moorestown, New Jersey
(“Chesterbrook Moorestown”). Chesterbrook offers
daycare services and an educational foundation program for
young children in several states. M.M., born on July 11, 2011
with Down syndrome, enrolled at Chesterbrook Moorestown on
January 5, 2012.
at Chesterbrook, diaper-changing services are provided to
children enrolled in its “Infants, ”
“Toddlers, ” and “Beginners”
programs. Diaper-changing services are not provided to
children enrolled in its “Intermediates” or
December 2014, Chesterbrook Moorestown informed M.M.'s
parents of its intention to move M.M. into the
“Intermediates” program. At this time, M.M. still
required diapers. M.M. was moved into the
“Intermediates” program on January 21, 2015.
Chesterbrook Moorestown worked with M.M. to try to get her
toilet trained, setting a deadline pursuant to their alleged
corporate policy for M.M. to be toilet trained by April 1,
March 26, 2015, Chesterbrook Moorestown informed M.M.'s
parents that M.M. was being expelled effective April 1, 2015
because she was not toilet trained. Plaintiff alleges the
real reason for M.M.'s expulsion was her disability.
M.M.'s last day was March 31, 2015.
brought a claim under Title III of the ADA asking for a
declaration that Defendant violated Title III of the ADA, for
Defendant to be enjoined from engaging in discrimination
against individuals with disabilities and from failing to
comply with Title III of the ADA, for an award of
compensatory damages to M.M. and M.M.'s parents, and for
a civil penalty against Defendant to vindicate the public
filed its Motion to Stay or, Alternatively, for Partial
Dismissal on March 24, 2017. Defendant argued, in part, that
the request for injunctive relief was too broad and not based
upon sufficient factual allegations. Defendant insisted that
the complaint only concerns one individual and one facility -
not a nationwide wrong. After being fully briefed, this Court
decided in an October 19, 2017 Order and Opinion that it was
premature to dismiss the request for injunctive relief. In
doing so, the Court opined that full discovery was necessary
and that only after liability was determined on all claims
could it determine whether to grant injunctive relief.
parties entered the discovery phase of this case, a
disagreement sparked over the proper scope of discovery.
Plaintiff asserted (based on Defendant's admissions) that
NLC did not have a corporate policy concerning toilet
training, but rather had a general practice - with exceptions
- of not permitting diapering in the Intermediate classrooms.
Plaintiff wished to explore this assertion and served various
discovery requests upon Defendant relating to this policy.
These discovery requests sought information for the five
years preceding the expulsion of M.M. and specified various
Chesterbrook facilities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
Maryland run by NLC. Defendant resisted these discovery
requests on grounds that the only permissible scope was one
limited to the two-year time period preceding the expulsion
of M.M. and the Chesterbrook Moorestown facility.
the parties could not resolve this issue on their own, the
discovery dispute was presented to United States Magistrate
Judge Joel Schneider through letters in April 2018 from both
parties. On April 10, 2018, Judge Schneider held oral
argument. Judge Schneider ruled orally at the hearing and
distilled his rulings into a written order filed on April 17,
2018. This Court will discuss the details of the oral ruling
as relevant, infra. Generally, however, Judge
Schneider ruled that discovery was appropriate into
facilities other than Chesterbrook Moorestown for children
other than M.M. and for five years preceding the incident.
April 30, 2018, Defendant NLC filed an objection to Judge
Schneider's ruling. This objection has been fully briefed
by both parties and is ripe for adjudication.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331, as Plaintiff's claims ...