M.S. v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., 13-CV-3719 (RRM) (VMS)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF
PartiesM.S. and J.S., individually and on behalf of M.S., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendants-Appellee.
Docket Number13-CV-3719 (RRM) (VMS)
Decision Date27 November 2013

M.S. and J.S., individually and on behalf of M.S., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

13-CV-3719 (RRM) (VMS)


Dated: November 27, 2013


ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States District Judge.

On July 2, 2013, plaintiffs M.S. and J.S., individually and on behalf of M.S, a minor, commenced this action, alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (Doc. No. 1.) Before the Court is an appeal of a ruling issued by Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs' motion for discovery. (See Doc. Nos. 16, 18.) The Court reviews discovery orders to determine whether the order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72. "An order is contrary to law 'when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.'" DeFazio v. Wallis, 459 F. Supp. 2d 159, 163 (E.D.N.Y. 2006) (quoting Catskill Dev., L.L.C. v. Park Place Entm't Corp., 206 F.R.D. 78, 86 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)). The Court will reverse only if it "is 'left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'" Mental Disability Law Clinic v. Hogan, 739 F. Supp. 2d 201, 203 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (quoting Easley v. Cromartie, 532 U.S. 234, 235 (2001)).

The Court presumes familiarity with the facts and procedural posture of this case, as set forth in the thorough and well-reasoned opinion of Magistrate Judge Scanlon. (See Doc. No. 16 at 1-4.) The Court finds no error in the magistrate judge's ruling, and affirms it all respects.

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Briefly, plaintiffs moved for leave to conduct two depositions of a teacher and paraprofessional at the Robert Randall School concerning the September through June portion of the 2011-2012 school year. (See Pl.'s Mot. For Disc. (Doc. No. 9).) Defendant opposed plaintiffs' request essentially on the grounds that such evidence would be retrospective, speculative, and cumulative. Magistrate Judge Scanlon denied plaintiffs' motion to the extent that it sought the identities of the teacher and paraprofessional that would have worked with M.S., but permitted plaintiffs to conduct two brief depositions of one teacher and one paraprofessional that were assigned to teach in September 2011 and, in fact, taught students of the same age and from the same class in which M.S. would have been enrolled.1 (See Doc. No. 16 at 13-18.) Magistrate Judge Scanlon limited the depositions, however, to facts known to the witnesses as of June 2011. (Id.)

Typically, the "source of the evidence in IDEA cases generally will be the administrative hearing record." Town of Burlington v. Dep't of Educ. for Com. of Mass., 736 F.2d 773, 790 (1st Cir. 1984), aff'd sub nom. Sch. Comm. of Town of Burlington, Mass. v. Dep't of Educ. of Mass., 471 U.S. 359 (1985). However, the IDEA also provides that a "court . . . shall hear additional evidence at the request of a party." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C)(ii). What constitutes permissible "additional evidence" is not defined in the statute. However, courts in this circuit have required that...

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