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Santiago v. Smithson

August 11, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge


A. Introduction and Background

On July 25, 2005, Santiago filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that various defendants assaulted him, threatened him, and refused to provide adequate medical treatment. Santiago's amended complaint states that he is suing Defendants in their individual capacities (Doc. 11).

During the course of discovery, Santiago has filed numerous motions to compel along with motions requesting that the Defendants be sanctioned for discovery fraud. Magistrate Judge Proud has repeatedly denied Santiago's motions. Now before the Court are Santiago's objections to the Magistrate Judge's rulings.

B. Analysis

FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 72(a) provides that where a party objects to the Magistrate Judge's ruling on a non-dispositive pre-trial matter, "the district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law."

1. Discovery Disputes and Santiago's Motions for Sanctions

First, the Court addresses Santiago's objections regarding discovery disputes and the Court's refusal to issue sanctions against the Defendants. Santiago complains that various defendants have not been adequately forthcoming when responding to discovery requests about FBI and Illinois State Police investigations regarding the alleged assaults against Santiago. Magistrate Judge Proud has repeatedly declined to sanction the defendants, noting that Santiago has presented no proof of fraud in the discovery process (Docs. 112 & 113).

Judge Proud also denied Santiago's motion to compel the Defendants to identify investigating agents and obtain reports prepared during the course of any internal investigations, because Santiago failed to submit copies of his specific discovery requests accompanied by the Defendants' responses as required by Local Rule 26.1(b)(3) (Doc. 112).

Similarly, Judge Proud denied Santiago's motions to compel the Defendants to turn over internal affairs records maintained by the Illinois Department of Corrections on the grounds that the individual Defendants do not actually possess these documents (Doc. 158).*fn1

Additionally, Judge Proud denied Santiago's request that the Court compel FBI Special Agent David Hardy to produce unredacted investigatory materials in response to Santiago's Freedom of Information Act requests (Doc. 159). Judge Proud found that a FOIA denial is not within the scope of this action, since Hardy is not a Defendant and the FOIA request is separate and distinct from the discovery mechanisms employed by the Court. In the same Order, Judge Proud denied Santiago's motion to compel the defendants to turn over disciplinary records, administrative directives, and fitness evaluations. Judge Proud found these requests irrelevant and tangential to the proceedings. Moreover, in prior rulings, the Court already found that the defendants' disciplinary records were irrelevant and confidential under 80 Ill.Admin.Code 304.40 (see Doc. 151).

Finally, Judge Proud denied Santiago's motion asking the Court to sanction the Defendants for their refusal to turn over July 2003 log books and work assignment sheets (Doc. 138). The Defendants claimed that these files do not exist, but Santiago asserted that the Defendants were lying. Lacking any actual evidence that the Defendants' discovery response was fraudulent, the Court denied Santiago's sanctions request.

Santiago objects to each of these rulings (Docs. 120, 121, 139, & 161). Though each objection deals with a slightly different aspect of discovery, all of them must be overruled due to Santiago's complete failure to support his claims of discovery fraud with any actual evidence. Rather, his motions and the instant objections amount to little more than angry rants that disagree with the Court's rulings. The Court cannot grant sanctions against a Defendant, however, simply because the Plaintiff forcefully asserts that they are hiding the ball. In short, there is no actual evidence that the Defendants have lied to Santiago or otherwise engaged in fraudulent conduct. Indeed, as to some of Santiago's discovery requests, Defendants initially claimed that they lacked sufficient information to respond, but later amended their responses to directly answer Santiago's questions. Amending their responses after investigation reveals pertinent information supports the conclusion that the Defendants are making a good faith effort to fully respond to Santiago's discovery requests-not that they were lying in the first instance.

Additionally, Santiago has not provided the Court with anything that would suggest his motions to compel were wrongfully denied. The Defendants are not required to turn over information that is irrelevant or not in their possession. Moreover, the Court cannot force non-parties to submit information to Santiago where he has failed to properly obtain and execute a subpoena. Santiago's dissatisfaction ...

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