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Cheryl Lanigan v. P.O. Thomas Babusch #105 and the Village of Hometown

October 27, 2011

CHERYL LANIGAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
P.O. THOMAS BABUSCH #105 AND THE VILLAGE OF HOMETOWN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Nan R. Nolan

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On October 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel. In her Motion, Plaintiff seeks an order compelling Defendants to provide full responses to Interrogatory Nos. 11, 14, 15 and 20, and Production Requests 8 and 19--22. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 16, 2011, Cheryl Lanigan filed a civil rights complaint, alleging § 1983 claims of excessive force and false arrest and a state law claim of battery against Thomas Babusch. (Compl. 1--4.) The Complaint also asserts a claim of indemnification against the Village of Hometown. (Id. 5.) At all relevant times, Babusch was a police officer with the Hometown Police Department. (Id. 2.)

On June 29, 2010, the police were called to Plaintiff's residence in Hometown after an altercation started between some of her guests. (Compl. 2.) Babusch was one of the officers who arrived on the scene. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that without provoca- tion, Babusch "attacked" her, throwing her on a car and slamming her to the ground. (Id.) She also contends that to cover up the unlawful and excessive force, Babusch arrested her without probable cause that she had committed any crimes. (Id. 3.)

II. DISCUSSION

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow parties to "obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Thus, the "requested discovery must be tied to the particular claims at issue in the case." Sykes v. Target Stores, 2002 WL 554505, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 15, 2002); see Moore v. Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc., 2008 WL 4681942, at *2 (N.D. Ill. May 30, 2008). A party may move to compel discovery where another party fails to respond to a discovery request or where the response is evasive or incomplete. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)--(4).

"In ruling on motions to compel discovery, courts have consistently adopted a liberal interpretation of the discovery rules." Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 450 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (citation omitted); see Cannon v. Burge, 2010 WL 3714991, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 14, 2010) ("The federal discovery rules are liberal in order to assist in trial preparation and settlement."); Bond v. Utreras, 585 F.3d 1061, 1075 (7th Cir. 2009). "Courts commonly look unfavorably upon significant restrictions placed upon the discovery process" and the "burden rests upon the objecting party to show why a particular discovery request is improper." Kodish, 235 F.R.D. at 450; accord Cannon, 2010 WL 3714991, at *1. As with all discovery matters, the Court has broad discretion whether to compel discovery. See Kodish, 235 F.R.D. at 450.

A. Interrogatory No. 11

Interrogatory No. 11 inquires about Babusch's employment history with other law enforcement agencies. (Mot. Ex. 1 at 4.) Defendants object that the request is irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Id.; Resp. 2.)

Plaintiff's request to compel an answer to Interrogatory No. 11 is GRANTED. The Court finds that Defendant's employment history with other law enforcement agencies appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Defendant's employment files from previous employers likely contain disciplinary records. Defendant's disciplinary records "are discoverable because evidence of other 'bad acts' may be relevant to establishing one of the permissible matters under Rule 404(b)." Lepianka v. Village of Franklin Park, 2004 WL 626830, at *1 (N.D. Ill. March 26, 2004); see Fed. R. Evid. 404(b) ("bad acts" evidence may be admissible to show "motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident").

B. Interrogatory Nos. 14, 15 and 20

Interrogatory Nos. 14, 15 and 20 ask if Babusch has ever been a defendant in a civil or criminal trial; if Defendant has ever been the subject of investigation by any law enforcement agency; and whether an order of protection has ever been entered against Defendant. (Mot. Ex. 1 at 4--6.) Defendants object to these requests as overly broad, irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. (Id.; Resp. 2--3.)

Plaintiff's requests to compel an answer to Interrogatory Nos. 14, 15 and 20 are GRANTED. The Court finds that the history of complaints made against Babusch-whether as a defendant in a civil or criminal trial, the subject of investigation by a law enforcement agency, or by the entry of a protective order-appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Plaintiff has made a claim for excessive force and ...


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