Sexual Assault Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Granted in Part

In Crandall v. Equinox Holdings, Inc., No. 157373/2018, 2021 WL 1253808, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 31063(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Apr. 05, 2021), a sexual assault case, the court ruled on the plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery.

The court summarized the facts, and plaintiff’s motion, as follows:

In this case, plaintiff alleges that he was the victim of sexual assault in a steam room at the Greenwich Avenue Equinox by an unknown third party. Plaintiff contends that defendants have refused to turn over discovery concerning defendants’ knowledge about similar incidents that purportedly occurred at Equinox gyms across the city. Plaintiff argues that it was considered an epidemic amongst Equinox staff. He points to another case in which there was an alleged sexual harassment incident at a Blink Fitness, which plaintiff says is owned by Equinox.

Plaintiff seeks incident reports relating to sexual assault, groping and sexual misconduct at all Equinox gyms. He demands the contact information, including, names, addresses and emails of all complainants, persons and witnesses who made complaints and received a **2 “template response” email that plaintiff says was generated by Equinox after these incidents. Plaintiff also demands information about prior insurance claims made against Equinox for similar incidents.

In ruling of plaintiff’s motion to compel, the court held that, under the governing statute (CPLR 3101(a)), plaintiff’s request swept too broadly.

Judge Bluth explained:

Plaintiff is entitled to discovery relating only to the Equinox gym at issue here. He did not cite any binding case law for the proposition that he is **3 entitled to incident reports from every Equinox gym in New York City. That request is the essence of an overbroad request. There is no reason to believe that such discovery would yield facts that would shed light on plaintiff’s claim. It appears plaintiff is attempting to argue that because similar incidents allegedly occurred at other Equinox gyms, that somehow means that it was foreseeable that it would happen at the gym at issue here. Such evidence is utterly irrelevant to defendants’ potential liability of the incident that allegedly occurred in this case.

To grant plaintiff’s motion would mean that every incident at an establishment with multiple locations would entitle a plaintiff to discovery at every location. An assault at a bank branch in Midtown would permit discovery of prior assaults at all of that bank’s branches in the five boroughs. There is nothing material or relevant about such a request.

The court distinguished the case cited by plaintiff (Jacqueline S. by Ludovina S. v City of New York (81 NY2d 288, 598 NYS2d 160 [1993]), which (unlike here) involved incidents at a single residential complex.

It held that plaintiff was “entitled to information about similar incidents at the specific gym at issue” and permitted plaintiff to “serve additional discovery requests that conform to this ruling.”

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