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Davis v. City of Springfield

January 30, 2009

RICKEY B. DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Rickey B. Davis' Motion to Compel Discovery (d/e 181). Plaintiff asks the Court to compel Defendant City of Springfield, Illinois to provide full responses to Plaintiff's First Interrogatories Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 and Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents Nos. 1 and 2. Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant's objections to Plaintiff's First Interrogatory No. 6 and Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents Nos. 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, and 23 are untimely and, thus, waived. This Court has jurisdiction to consider these matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

Plaintiff's Motion to Compel contains the requisite Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1) certification. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is allowed, in part, and denied, in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (d/e 172) alleges claims of race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII (Count I) and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 & 1983 (Count II). Plaintiff is an African-American who was at all relevant times employed by the Defendant as a police officer with the rank of Lieutenant. According to the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has previously filed claims of race discrimination and retaliation against Defendant and has spoken out against race discrimination in the City of Springfield and the Springfield Police Department (SPD). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated and retaliated against him by taking action affecting the terms and conditions of his employment, issuing unwarranted discipline against him, mishandling Internal Affairs matters against him, transferring him from the criminal investigations division to the patrol unit, transferring him from the day shift to the midnight shift and then to the second shift, and releasing confidential medical information about Plaintiff to the general public without his consent.

On September 5, 2008, Plaintiff served Defendant with Plaintiff's First Interrogatories and Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents. Defendant failed to respond within thirty days as required under Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2) and 34(b)(2)(A). Plaintiff's attorney Donna Harper sent a letter, dated October 15, 2008, to Assistant Corporation Counsel Frank Martinez addressing Defendant's overdue discovery responses. Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of his Motion to Compel Discovery (d/e 182) (Plaintiff's Memorandum), Ex. 3. The letter stated as follows:

On September 5, 2008, I served you with Plaintiff's First Request for Production and First Interrogatories. Your objections and responses were due on October 8, 2008. Your responses are now one week overdue. Your objections, if any, are waived.

This is my request to confer as required by the Court's May 28, 2008 Scheduling Order and Rule 37 F. R. Civ. P. Please call me at your earliest convenience to advise what you plan on doing about answering this discovery, and when. If you do not plan to respond to this discovery, please do me the courtesy of advising me so I may promptly file a motion to compel.

Id. (emphasis added).

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant failed to respond to the October 15, 2008 letter. Defendant does not contest this. The record reveals that Plaintiff's counsel raised the overdue discovery issue again in an October 27, 2008 email regarding deposition scheduling. Defendant's Response to Motion to Compel Discovery [sic] (d/e 184) (Defendant's Response), Ex. A, p. 2. Defense counsel responded by email, dated October 30, 2008, that he was working on the discovery and would have it ready by the end of the next week. Id., p. 1. Plaintiff's counsel responded that afternoon by emailing defense counsel a deposition schedule that began on November 12, 2008 and cautioned "I must have your discovery responses by the end of next week or this entire schedule will be thrown off. I am relying on your statement below that you will get it to me by the end of next week." Id. In an email, dated November 5, 2008, Plaintiff's counsel again raised the issue of the overdue discovery as follows: "Are you still expecting to send me your answers and the documents by the end of this week? I need to know for planning purposes so I have enough time to review what's been produced before incurring the expense of depositions." Defendant's Response, Ex. C. Defense counsel responded by email that he planned to send out the responses and documents the next day. Id.

Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's First Interrogatories bears a date of November 6, 2008. See Plaintiff's Memorandum, Ex. 1. Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents bears no date; however, the parties agree that Defendant served its response to the Request for Production along with its Response to Plaintiff's First Interrogatories on November 6, 2008. See Plaintiff's Memorandum, p. 2 & Ex. 2; Defendant's Response, Ex. B & C. Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Compel on December 5, 2008. According to Plaintiff, Defendant's objections to Plaintiff's First Interrogatory No. 6 and Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents Nos. 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, and 23 are untimely and, thus, waived. Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant's responses to Plaintiff's First Interrogatories Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 and Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents Nos. 1 and 2 are insufficient. Plaintiff asks the Court to compel Defendant to provide complete responses to the identified discovery requests.

ANALYSIS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) allows parties to obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the claim or defense of any party. Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. A party may seek an order compelling disclosure when an opposing party has failed to respond or has provided evasive or incomplete responses. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(2)(B)(iii), (iv) & (a)(4). The Court has broad discretion when reviewing a discovery dispute and "should independently determine the proper course of discovery based upon the arguments of the parties." Gile v. ...


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