Court Quashes Non-Party Subpoenas in Sexual Harassment Case [Hughes v. Twenty-First Century Fox]

In Hughes v. Twenty–First Century Fox, Inc., 17-cv-7093, 2018 WL 1936096 (S.D.N.Y. April 24, 2018),  a sexual harassment case, the court quashed defendants’ non-party subpoenas.

From the decision:

This Court need not consider Defendants’ argument that the subpoenaed information will assist them in formulating the defense of absolute truth with respect to Hughes’ defamation claims because this Court has already granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss those claims. The relevant question then is whether the four non-parties have information demonstrating that Hughes was a serial seductress who engaged in a pattern of pursuing relationships with men—like Charles Payne—for the purpose of advancing her career. To substantiate their position, Defendants submitted third party affidavits attesting to Hughes’ sexual proclivities with these men.

Injecting this case with Hughes’ rendezvous with non-parties who have no connection to the subject matter of this litigation will only detract the parties—and later, a jury—from the real issues underlying Hughes’ grievance. Defendants’ purported strategy is superficially appealing, but advances a boorish, reductive narrative that Hughes was predisposed to engaging in self-serving sexual relationships. Hughes’ prior sexual history has no relevance to her claims against Payne, or the defense that she used Payne to advance her career at Fox.

After discussing the interplay between Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 and Federal Rule of Evidence 412, the court determined that the non-party subpoenas were “unlikely to elicit information relevant to the defense.”