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Stimeling v. Board of Education Peoria Public Schools District 150

January 26, 2010

STEVEN STIMELING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION PEORIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS DISTRICT 150, KENNETH HINTON, THOMAS BRODERICK, CHARLES DAVIS, AND RON SCALES, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Plaintiff pursues claims under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the Equal Protection Clause, based on alleged reverse discrimination and retaliation against him for complaining about that discrimination. Plaintiff has moved to compel the disclosure of all complaints of race discrimination or retaliation made by School District employees, district-wide. Defendants object to producing complaints by employees outside of the Campus Security Department, where Plaintiff works. They also object to producing complaints regarding discrimination against minorities, as opposed to reverse discrimination complaints. For the reasons below, Plaintiff's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

Background and Discovery Requests at Issue

Plaintiff filed this case in December 2007. After the Complaint survived a motion to dismiss, scheduling deadlines were set on September 24, 2008, with discovery closing February 1, 2010. On or about August 27, 2009, Defendants responded to Plaintiff's First Continuing Set of Interrogatories and First Request for Production of Documents, objecting to some of those requests. (d/e 30, Ex. 1, 2). The requests at issue are:

Interrogatory 11 to School District: Identify any formal or informal, verbal or written, complaints (internal and/or to third parties), grievances, EEOC charges, IDHR charges and/or lawsuits against the School District, its employees and/or agents, regarding race discrimination, racial harassment, a hostile work environment based on race, and/or legally prohibited retaliation from January 1, 2003, through the present. For each, identify the name of the complainant and person(s) accused of wrongdoing; the date and substance of the complaint; and, the resolution, outcome and/or result of the complaint.

Document Request 20:All documents related to official or unofficial, formal or informal reports and/or complaints made by anyone regarding race discrimination, racial harassment, hostile work environment on the basis of race, any genre of retaliation, and/or Due Process by any employee, agent, and/or official of the Peoria Public Schools District 150 from January 1, 2003 through the present.

Document Request 21: All documents relating to any investigation conducted as a result of any report or complaint referred to in Request No. 20 above.

Document Request 22:All documents related to any charge of legally prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliation filed against Peoria Public School District 150 or any of its agents with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and/or EEOC from January 1, 2003 to the present.

Document Request 29:To the extent not sought by a previous request and provided in response thereto, all documents from or relating to all lawsuits, administrative proceedings, investigations and/or other proceedings or procedure related to any formal or informal complaints, claims, and/or charges made by anyone alleging a violation of his or her federal and/or constitutional civil rights by Peoria Public Schools District 150 and/or any Defendant and/or any of its employees and/or agents.

On November 6, 2009, Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendants summarizing the discovery disputes and explaining his position. (d/e 30, Ex. 3). Defendants responded and further correspondence followed, but the parties were unable to agree on whether discrimination and retaliation complaints made by employees outside Plaintiff's department were discoverable. (d/e 30, Exs. 4-6). Plaintiff accordingly filed the instant motion to compel on December 7, 2009, in accordance with this Court's extension of the deadline for filing that motion. (11/23/09 text order). The Court has extended fact discovery to March 1, 2010. (1/11/10 text order).

Legal Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense--.... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Discovery of relevant information is subject to Rule 26(b)(2)(C), which allows limitations on discovery if, for example, the burden of the discovery "outweighs its likely benefit" or if it is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2).

The party opposing discovery has the burden of proving that the requested discovery should be disallowed. Golden Valley Microwave Foods, Inc. v. Weaver Popcorn Co., 132 F.R.D. 204, 207 (N.D. Ind. 1990). "A request for discovery should be considered relevant if there is 'any possibility' that the information sought may be relevant to the subject matter of the action." Id. at 212 (quoted cite omitted). "For the purpose of discovery, relevancy will be construed broadly to encompass 'any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case.'" Chavez v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 206 F.R.D. ...


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