In a decision yesterday, Judge Crotty denied a motion by a former People magazine editor, who claims that she was fired based on her race and that People magazine was only interested “in printing [articles] concerning . . . ‘White middle-class suburbia,’” to compel discovery concerning what stories People chose to publish. He found the requests were “burdensome and disproportionate”:
Unlike most discrimination cases where discovery is addressed to allegedly discriminatory conduct and/or comments, Plaintiff here seeks nearly unlimited access to People’s editorial files, including all documents covering the mental process of People staff concerning what would or would not be published in the magazine. To provide a few examples, Plaintiff requests all documents “concerning any of People Magazine’s regular meetings,” all documents “concerning any meeting at which discussions concerning which content would appear in People Magazine occurred,” all documents “concerning the decision-making process with regard to choosing who would be put on the cover of People Magazine,” and copies of all of People’s covers and published stories dating back to 2005. Plaintiff’s claims and would significantly burden Defendants. In addition, what Defendants decided to publish (or not publish) and its editorial decisions (as opposed to its business decisions in personnel hiring, firing, promoting, or demoting) are not relevant to Plaintiffs claims.
Judge Crotty also determined that the materials were protected from discovery by the qualified reporter’s privilege.