Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Amy J. St. Eve than Assigned Judge
The Court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiff's motion to compel .
O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.
On September 21, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint alleging that Defendants Thomas J. Dart, the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois and Cook County, Illinois violated their constitutional rights based on Defendants' policy of shackling female pre-trial detainees at the Cook County Department of Corrections before, during, and immediately after they give birth. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs are suing Sheriff Dart in both his official and individual capacities. Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(3) motion to compel Defendant Dart to provide responsive answers to Plaintiffs' Second Set of Interrogatories. For the following reasons, the Court, in its discretion, grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffs' motion. Defendant is to serve complete responses to Plaintiffs' interrogatories 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, and 15 by no later than February 4, 2011.
The federal discovery rules are liberal in order to assist in the preparation for trial and settlement of litigated disputes. See Bond v. Utreras, 585 F.3d 1061, 1075 (7th Cir. 2009); see also Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 450 (N.D. Ill. 2006) ("the scope of discovery should be broad in order to aid in the search for truth"). Pursuant to 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "The burden rests upon the objecting party to show why a particular discovery request is improper." Kodish, 235 F.R.D. at 450. In the context of motions to compel, the Seventh Circuit instructs that a "district court may grant or deny the motion in whole or in part, and similar to ruling on a request for a protective order under Rule 26(c), the district court may fashion a ruling appropriate for the circumstances of the case." Gile v. United Air Lines, Inc., 95 F.3d 492, 496 (7th Cir. 1996). As with all discovery matters, district courts have broad discretion in determining motions to compel. See Peals v. Terre Haute Police Dept., 535 F.2d 621, 629 (7th Cir. 2008); Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 761 (7th Cir. 2007).
Plaintiffs maintain that their Second Set of Interrogatories contain contention interrogatories. A contention interrogatory allows a plaintiff to learn the factual bases of the opposing party's defense, see Pratt v. Tarr, 464 F.3d 730, 733 (7th Cir. 2006), and is not objectionable if it asks for an opinion that relates to a fact or the application of a law to fact. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2). Rule 33, however, does not allow interrogatories that ask for pure legal conclusions. See Nautilus Ins. Co. v. Raatz, No. 08 C 6182, 2011 WL 98843, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 12, 2011); 8B Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 2167 (Rule 33 "does not authorize interrogatories calling for legal conclusions").
Here, Plaintiffs argue that interrogatories 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 14 should have been answered with a simple yes or no and that interrogatories 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 15 pertain to the Sheriff's reasoning for its yes or no answers. Indeed, interrogatories 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 15 merely restate the questions in interrogatories 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 14. For example, Plaintiffs' Interrogatory No. 2 states: "Unless your answer to the preceding interrogatory is an unqualified "no," state with reasonable specificity the manner in which restraining by leg restraints and/or handcuff[s] a pregnant female detainee in the custody of the Sheriff of Cook County, who is being transported to a hospital for the purpose of delivering her child, is related to any security interest?" In response, Defendant answered:
Defendant Thomas Dart objects to interrogatory 2 as vague, overly broad, ambiguous, and burdensome. Moreover, Sheriff Dart objects to interrogatory 2 for failing to provide any foundation for the question. Subject to and not waiving these objections, Sheriff Dart is aware that detainees are guarded and require security upon being transported to and while at hospitals outside of the Cook County Department of Corrections. However, Sheriff Dart is unaware of the specific procedures and means by which officers ensure detainees are transported and secured. Finally, although Sheriff Dart did not personally participate in the specific contents, creation or implementation of such documents, the Cook County Department of Corrections relies on the substance of External Operations, written policy No. EO-32 (2006) ...