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JONES v. HOOD
June 2, 2005.
MARKEYTA Y. JONES, as Mother and Next Friend of LAMAR D. HILL, a minor, Plaintiffs,
WALTER HOOD, CLIFFORD FIELDS, VERNON EDWARDS and EAST ST. LOUIS SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 189, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CLIFFORD PROUD, Magistrate Judge
Before the Court is plaintiff Markeyta Jones' motion to
overrule defendants East St. Louis Scool District 189's
objections to interrogatories 12 and 13, and to compel the
defendant to answer those interrogatories. (Doc. 29). The
interrogatories at issue are aimed at discovering whether School
District 189 was ever made a defendant in any court case where
one of its employees, agents ore representatives was involved in
the search of the person or property of a student. The defendant
objected that the interrogatory was overly broad and unduly
burdensome, and not calculated to lead to the discovery of
admissible evidence. The interrogatory has now been limited to a
ten year period, going back to April 21, 1994. The defendant
explains that it does not maintain permanent litigation files,
which would require it to search all its records and/or court
files to respond to the request. (Doc. 30).
As a preliminary matter, the Court must note that the delay in
attending to this discovery dispute is due to plaintiff's failure
to submit a proposed order to the Court, as required by Local
Rule 7.1(a). Now that the Court utilizes an electronic filing
system, a proposed order serves to alert the Court of a pending
motion, and facilitates a prompt ruling. The defendant's assertion that interrogatories 12 and 13 are
not calculated to lead to admissible evidence is not well taken.
The search of a student and his property is at the heart of this
case, and prior similar incidents would certainly go to showing
knowledge of procedures and the practices in the school district.
Therefore, the request is relevant to the case, and a ten year
period does not seem unreasonable.
The defendant need not comb all public court records to answer
the interrogatories; those records are equally available to
plaintiff. However, it is certainly reasonable for plaintiff to
inquire of the defendant in an effort to more expeditiously
obtain the information sought. The defendant can certainly detail
its efforts, in its signed response under oath, which will evince
its efforts to satisfy its burden under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 26 and 33. However, the Court finds it odd that the
defendant school district makes no mention of asking its
attorneys to search their records, which would likely be the
easiest way to answer the question. In any event, Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 26(e) and (g) provide the proper mechanism for
this situation and require that "reasonable inquiry" be exerted
which defendant has declined to even attempt.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff Markeyta Jones' motion to
compel (Doc. 29) is GRANTED. On or before June 24, 2005,
defendant East St. Louis School District 189 shall answer
plaintiff's interrogatories 12 and 13.
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