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Everett Lewis v. Tazewell County

June 17, 2011

EVERETT LEWIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TAZEWELL COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore United States Magistrate Judge

E-FILED

Friday, 17 June, 2011 03:24:26 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION BYRON G. CUDMORE, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE:

This matter comes before this Court on Plaintiff Everett Lewis's Motion to Compel Defendants to Produce Outstanding Responses and Answers to Plaintiff's Discovery Requests (d/e 19) (Motion). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Everett Lewis brings this action against Tazewell County, Illinois, Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston in his official capacity, and several officers (Defendant-Officers) in the Tazewell County Sheriff's Department (Department) arising out of an incident on December 9, 2009, in which Lewis was tazed while in custody at the Tazewell County Jail (Jail). Lewis brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against the Defendant-Officers and a claim against Sheriff Huston in his official capacity pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). Sheriff Huston admitted in his answer that the Defendant-Officers were acting pursuant to the customs and policies of the Jail. Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses (d/e 16), ¶ 104.*fn1

On November 9, 2010, Lewis sent Defendants written discovery requests. Motion, Exhibits 1, 2, and 3, Plaintiff's Requests to Produce, Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories to Defendant Huston, and Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories to the Defendant-Officers. Defendants objected to some of the interrogatories and document requests. Lewis's counsel has certified that he has conferred with defense counsel to resolve these objections, but some still remain. Motion, ¶ 4. Lewis now moves to compel production of documents responsive to certain disputed requests and answers to certain interrogatories.

LEGAL PRINCIPLES OF DISCOVERY 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. The rule gives the district courts broad discretion in matters relating to discovery. See Brown-Bey v. United States, 720 F.2d 467, 470-71 (7th Cir.1983); Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, U. A., 657 F.2d 890, 902 (7th Cir.1981); see also, Indianapolis Colts v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 775 F.2d 177, 183 (7th Cir.1985) (on review, courts of appeal will only reverse a decision of a district court relating to discovery upon a clear showing of an abuse of discretion). "[I]f there is an objection the discovery goes beyond material relevant to the parties' claims or defenses, the Court would become involved to determine whether the discovery is relevant to the claims or defenses and, if not, whether good cause exists for authorizing it so long as it is relevant to the subject matter of the action. The good-cause standard warranting broader discovery is meant to be flexible." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) Advisory Committee Notes, 2000 Amendment.

The federal discovery rules are to be construed broadly and liberally. Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177 (1979); Jeffries v. LRP Publications, Inc., 184 F.R.D. 262, 263 (E.D .Pa. 1999). Rule 26(b)(1) provides that the "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party . . .," but "[f]or good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). The party opposing discovery has the burden of proving that the requested discovery should be disallowed. Etienne v. Wolverine Tube, Inc., 185 F.R.D. 653, 656 (D. Kan. 1999); Golden Valley Microwave Foods, Inc. v. Weaver Popcorn Co., Inc., 132 F.R.D. 204, 207 (N.D. Ind. 1990); Flag Fables, Inc. v. Jean Ann's Country Flags and Crafts, Inc., 730 F. Supp. 1165, 1186 (D. Mass. 1989).

District Courts have broad discretion in discovery matters. Packman v. Chicago Tribune Co., 267 F.3d 628, 646 (7th Cir., 2001). A party must be diligent in pursuing the perceived inadequacies in discovery and the trial court does not abuse its discretion if a party untimely seeks to compel inadequate discovery responses. Packman at 647. However, even an untimely motion to compel may still be allowed if the party demonstrates actual and substantial prejudice resulting from the denial of discovery. Id. Remember, we are talking discovery, not admissibility at trial. With these principles in mind, the Court addresses Lewis' Motion.

ANALYSIS

I. Interrogatories to Huston

Lewis asks the Court to compel Huston to answer interrogatories 2,3, 4, and 10. Motion, at 4, and Exhibit 2, Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories to Defendant Huston. The Court ...


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