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SCHAID v. WOODWARD GOVERNOR COMPANY

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


September 28, 2005.

WALTRAUD ("TRUDY") SCHAID, Plaintiff,
v.
WOODWARD GOVERNOR COMPANY, a corporation, Defendant.

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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on Defendant's August 5, 2005 Motion to Strike Plaintiff's July 21 Supplemental Disclosures or Alternatively to Compel Plaintiff to Comply with the Disclosure Requirements of FRCP 26(a)(1) and FRCP 26(a)(3).*fn1 For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. History

  On July 21, 2005, Plaintiff provided opposing counsel with her fifth supplemental Rule 26(a)(3) disclosure. The disclosure identified the following four categories of individuals as potential witnesses on the following subjects: (1) "employees in defendant's Rockton facility" to rebut Defendant's claims concerning Plaintiff's performance, conduct and dress; (2) "employees in defendant's Rockford facility" to rebut Defendant's claims concerning Plaintiff's performance, conduct and dress and to rebut Mr. Moist's claim regarding his use of a freight elevator; (3) "individuals identified in any document produced by defendant and/or plaintiff" in Schaid or Bell to testify about the subject of the document in which he or she is named; and (4) "individuals deposed and/or identified in deposition testimony" in Schaid or Bell to testify about the subject of the deposition testimony he or she provided or in which they were identified.

  Now, Defendant comes before the court contending that the July 21 disclosures are inadequate under the Federal Rules because they do not specifically name witnesses, do not provide contact information, and do not provide an adequate designation of potential testimony. Defendant claims it is prejudiced by the disclosures because the "broad categories of unnamed persons" do not help "refine the factual disputes in this case" and make it difficult to prepare for trial. (Def.'s Mtn., at 5). In support of this statement, Defendant notes that thousands of people have worked at Woodward, one hundred witnesses have been deposed, and thousands of documents have been produced in the Schaid and Bell cases. (Id.).

  Plaintiff, defending her disclosures, states they provide "sufficient information" when viewed in the context of "defendant's broad assertions in this case" and "defendant's habit of questioning witnesses deposed in Bell . . . concerning facts and issues related to this case." (Pl.'s Resp., at 1, 3). Plaintiff also argues that Defendant "has not established that it needs more information than what it already has." (Id.). Finally, Plaintiff points to deficiencies in Defendant's own disclosures to undercut Defendant's Motion. (Id. at 6-7).

  II. Analysis

  The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rules implicated by this discovery dispute indicate a straightforward solution. Under Rule 26(a)(3), a party shall disclose to other parties, and the court, the following information regarding the evidence that it may present at trial (other than solely for impeachment): the name and, if not previously provided, the address and telephone number of each witness, separately identifying those whom the party expects to present and those whom the party may call if the need arises. . . . Unless otherwise directed by the court, these disclosures must be made at least 30 days before trial.

 Fed.R.Civ.P. 26.

  However, in the Western Division of the Northern District of Illinois, Rule 26(a)(3) is subsumed within the Standing Order for the Final Pretrial Order, approved by the court April 1, 1999. See Local Rule 16 and Final Pretrial Order Form. Typically, the court does not set a schedule for 26(a)(3) disclosures. Rather, these issues are dealt with at the Final Pretrial Conference. No Final Pretrial Conference has been set in this case as the parties have yet to even complete their Rule 56 briefing schedule.

  Plaintiff calls her disclosures 26(a)(3) disclosures; not 26(a)(1) supplemental disclosures. She titles her disclosures as "FRCP 26(a)(3)" disclosures. If this were correct, the above paragraph would end the Opinion of the court. The mislabeling is probably because Plaintiff's disclosures do not comply with Federal Rule 26(a)(1). First, Plaintiff's disclosures do not identify names as required by Rule 26(a)(1). Instead, Plaintiff lists broad categories of individuals, which is not authorized by the Rule. Second, Plaintiff's disclosures do not provide the address and telephone number of each witness.*fn2

  While Plaintiff concedes her disclosure is broad, she states she provided the fifth supplemental disclosure out of "an abundance of caution." (Pl.'s Resp., at 5). This is plainly not in keeping with the purpose of Rule 26, which is to remove surprise by narrowing and clarifying the issues for trial. See, e.g., Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 613 (7th Cir. 2000) (stating the purpose of the discovery rules is to allow "both sides to prepare their cases adequately and efficiently and to prevent the tactic of surprise from affecting the outcome of the case); Bosaw v. Nat'l Treasury Employee's Union, 887 F. Supp. 1199, 1216 (S.D. Ind. 1995). Further, full compliance is required by both parties automatically.*fn3 In fact, signature of disclosures constitutes a certification that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief, the disclosure is complete and correct as of the time it is made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(g)(1).

  Thus, Plaintiff's July 21, 2005 disclosure, which the court treats as a Rule 26(e) supplemental disclosure of her 26(a)(1) responsibilities, is struck pursuant to Rule 37(c)*fn4 and 37(b)(2) as: (1) unhelpful; (2) non-compliant with the statute; and (3) just plain nonsense.

  III. Conclusion

  Accordingly, Defendant's August 5, 2005 Motion to Strike Plaintiff's July 21 Supplemental Disclosures or Alternatively to Compel Plaintiff to Comply with the Disclosure Requirements of FRCP 26(a)(1) and FRCP 26(a)(3) is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's July 21, 2005 disclosure, which the court treats as a Rule 26(e) supplemental disclosure of her 26(a)(1) disclosures, is struck.

20050928

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