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CLARK v. BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF AMERICA

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division


June 9, 2005.

KENYADA CLARK, CELINA JACKSON, PRICILLIA BEASLEY, and MELISSA SNYDER Plaintiffs,
v.
THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF AMERICA, a corporation, THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB ASSOCIATION OF ROCKFORD, a corporation, and ROBERT CAIN Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. MICHAEL MAHONEY, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs' Complaints seek redress for sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliatory discharge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and other common law theories of recovery, against Defendants. On or about October 8, 2004, this court consolidated Plaintiffs' four separately filed lawsuits for discovery purposes. This matter is now before the court on Plaintiffs' May 2, 2005, Motion to Strike and Compel to Defendant Boys and Girls Club of America ("BGCA"). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Discussion

  After exchanging written discovery and attempting to resolve discovery disputes pursuant to Local Rule 37.2, the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the proper scope of thirteen of Plaintiffs' production requests and seven of Plaintiffs' interrogatories. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel/Strike raises five main discovery issues, each of which is discussed separately below. Under the Federal Rules, parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. Nonetheless, the court has authority to limit discovery that is unreasonably cumulative, unduly burdensome, or expensive. See Patterson v. Avery Dennison Corp., 281 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2002). Generally, when a party objects to a discovery request, it is that party's burden to show the request is improper. The court's determination will be based on a balance of the propounding party's need for the requested items or information and the objecting party's burden of production.

  A. Production Requests 8, 27, 31, and Interrogatory 8

  Plaintiffs seek documentation regarding BGCA's employee handbooks, personnel manuals, supervisor manuals, or any document that describes BGCA's policies and practices (Request 8); BGCA's standard employment forms (Request 27); BGCA's sexual harassment, discrimination, EEO, or discipline policies (Request 31); and descriptions of BGCA's policies and practices, specifically on sexual harassment, discrimination, EEO, or discipline policies (Interrogatory 8). BGCA objects to production, stating as an affirmative defense that it is not Plaintiffs' employer, which makes its internal policies and procedures irrelevant to Plaintiffs' lawsuit. Plaintiffs argue they are not obligated to accept BGCA's representation and are entitled to discovery that may support their position.

  The court looks to a plaintiff's complaint to define the scope of discovery. Because Plaintiffs allege within their Complaints that BGCA is their employer, Defendant's contentions on its employer status (alone) are not enough to limit the scope of discovery.*fn1 Thus, this court orders Defendant to produce materials responsive to Requests 8, 27, 31, and Interrogatory 8 within twenty-one days of receipt of this Order. The court, however, limits the time period of the Order to 2002 through the present in keeping with the time restraints in other Requests and the time period of the Complaints.

  B. Production Requests 16, 18, 22, and Interrogatory 10

  Plaintiffs seek documents and information regarding prior complaints by BGCA's employees and by member clubs' employees of retaliation, discrimination, and harassment based on sex, with no time limitations. BGCA contends that its provided information (from January, 1999, through the present) regarding Title VII complaints is more than sufficient. This court agrees. While the court recognizes that Plaintiffs wish to examine patterns and practices of BGCA's handling of sexual discrimination/harassment complaints, Plaintiffs have not shown how BGCA's practices of more than five year ago, and before the time periods at issue in Plaintiffs' Complaints, is relevant to their case. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel further responses to Production Requests 16, 18, 22, and Interrogatory 10 is denied.

  C. Production Requests 29, 30

  Plaintiffs seek financial information and tax documents from BGCA. BGCA states that it has already produced its Annual Report containing detailed information about its income and net worth. After reviewing BGCA's Annual Report, this court concludes that Defendant has adequately responded to Plaintiffs' Requests. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel further responses to Production Requests 29 and 30 is denied. D. Production Request 36

  Plaintiffs seek documents related to contacts made between BGCA and the Boys and Girls Club Association of Rockford. BGCA states it has truthfully and completely responded to Request 36. Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(g), every discovery response must be accompanied by the signature of the attorney or party constituting a certification that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after a reasonable inquiry, the response is complete and correct. Thus, this court accepts BGCA's representation that its response is complete, but reminds Defendant of its responsibilities under the Federal Rules to supplement production that it learns was incorrect or incomplete when made. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel further responses to Production Request 36 is denied.

  E. Production Requests 21, 38, 40, 44, and Interrogatories 2, 11, 20, 21, 24

  Plaintiffs generally object to Defendant's responses that are "subject to" an objection, stating they are concerned that word playing may be being used to withhold otherwise relevant and discoverable documents. BGCA states it has produced all non-privileged documents in its possession, and notes that it clearly identified instances where it limited its responses.

  Again, this court accepts BGCA's representation that its response is complete, but reminds Defendant of its responsibilities under the Federal Rules, including its responsibility to complete a privilege log so that the court and counsel can assess the applicability of the privilege. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. Therefore, Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike BGCA's responses to Production Requests 21, 38, 40, 44, and Interrogatories 2, 11, 20, 21, 24 is denied. However, if a privilege log has not been produced to Plaintiffs, the court orders one to be produced within twenty-one days of receipt of this Order. II. Conclusion

  For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel/Strike is granted in part and denied in part. Defendant shall produce within twenty-one days of receipt of this Order: (1) materials responsive to Requests 8, 27, 31, and Interrogatory 8 (limited to 2002 through the present), and (2) a privilege log if one has not been previously produced. Plaintiffs' Motion compelling any further production is denied.


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