Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Suzanne B. Conlon than Assigned Judge Jeffrey Gilbert
Motion hearing held on 10/3/12 on Defendants' Motion to Compel  and Defendants' Second Motion to Compel . The Court reserved ruling at the end of that hearing on Defendants' request that Plaintiff be required to produce eight months of video surveillance tapes preserved on a back-up hard drive. The Court now grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motions [95, 114] as to certain of those video surveillance tapes. (See Statement below for further details.)
O[ For further details see text below.] .Notices mailed by Judicial staff.
1. Plaintiff shall produce on or before 10/12/12 the video surveillance tapes that have been preserved on a back-up hard drive for the time period from December 1, 2010 through and including May 31, 2011. Plaintiff is not required to produce the tapes covering the time period beyond May 31, 2011, at this time.
2. The Court finds that these tapes contain information that is relevant to the claims and defenses in this case or appears reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence at least with respect to (a) police activity in the vicinity of Plaintiff's home in a case in which Plaintiff alleges that she and her family have been harassed by Defendant police officers during the time period captured by the video tapes (Pl's Second Amended Complaint  at ¶¶23-30), and (b) the comings and goings of Plaintiff's son, John Doe, in a case in which such activity is made relevant at least by Plaintiff's allegation in her Second Amended Complaint that "[a]s a result of the repeated and constant harassment, Plaintiff does not allow her son outside the home alone. He is not allowed to socialize with friends outside the home for fear he will be falsely arrested by Defendant Handzel or other 8th District police officers." [Id. at ¶39].
3. Further, Plaintiff's own conduct supports the notion that the tapes contain relevant information or reasonably may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Plaintiff's counsel estimates that Plaintiff already has turned over between 10 and 20 video clips filmed in December 2010. Defendants say Plaintiff has produced "approximately twelve clips" filmed in December 2010. [114 at pp.2-3] In addition, Plaintiff took affirmative steps to back-up approximately eight months of video surveillance tapes beginning with tapes created in December 2010, thus ensuring that tapes covering that time period would be preserved and not re-recorded in the ordinary course of the video surveillance system's continuous loop every two weeks. ("The Morados have a home surveillance system that can only store two weeks worth of video at a time.") [Plaintiff's Opposition Br.  at p.4].
4. The period of time covered by these specifically preserved video surveillance tapes overlaps with the log Plaintiff and her mother began to keep in September 2010 that contains detailed descriptions of events that allegedly occurred between April 28, 2010 and May 25, 2011, including alleged police activity and harassment in the vicinity of Plaintiff's home. Plaintiff subsequently turned that log over to her attorneys, and the Court ordered the log produced to Defendants at the hearing held on Defendants' Motions on October 3, 2012 . Accordingly, there is a fair inference that Plaintiff backed-up and preserved these particular video surveillance tapes because she believed they might contain relevant information relating to the claims that ultimately were brought in this lawsuit.
5. Although Plaintiff maintains that she has produced all of the video clips from the surveillance tapes in her possession that she intends to introduce into evidence, Defendants are entitled to review the tapes for other evidence they may use in their case or to contest Plaintiff's case. In particular, Defendants contend the tapes may show police activity in the vicinity of Plaintiff's home on a regular basis not because Defendants are harassing Plaintiff but because Plaintiff's home is located across from a park to which police regularly are dispatched. Defendants contend this evidence may be relevant or reasonably lead to admissible evidence that could blunt or undercut Plaintiff's contention that the presence of Defendant police officers outside or in the vicinity of her home was intended to harass and intimidate Plaintiff and her family. (Pl's Second Amended Complaint  at ¶¶23-30) Whether or not the evidence on the tapes is susceptible to the interpretation Defendants would place on it, or instead would support Plaintiff's claims, the Court is convinced the information is at least discoverable at this juncture.
6. Defendants also seek to challenge or mitigate Plaintiff's allegation that she does not allow her son outside the house and that he is not allowed to socialize with friends outside the home for fear he will be arrested. (Pl's Second Amended Complaint  at ¶39) Video cameras that are sensitive enough to be triggered by a leaf blowing across the lawn, as Plaintiff says the cameras are here, very well may have captured John Doe coming out of or going into his home, alone or in the company of others, and any activity he engaged in outside his home within reach of the video cameras. Therefore, it is very possible and even likely that the tapes contain material that is relevant or that reasonably could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Again, whether the evidence ultimately supports or undercuts Plaintiff's claims or Defendants' defenses, or is admissible at trial, is beyond the scope of the Court's determination that the evidence at least is discoverable at this time.
7. Finally, in addition to the kinds of evidence described above, it is possible that the video surveillance tapes contain other material that is relevant or reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence in a case that centers on whether Defendants, for example, conducted a "campaign to drive Plaintiff and her family from his neighborhood," "participated in a continuing pattern of harassment of John Doe," and whether one of the Defendant police officers "parked on Plaintiff's block and placed her home and her family under surveillance, without legal justification." (Pl's Second Amended Complaint  at ¶¶23, 24, 27).
8. Although video surveillance back-up tapes apparently exist for a period of time extending beyond May 31, 2011, potentially into July or August 2011, the Court is limiting production to the tapes covering the period ending on May 31, 2011 because the last concrete event alleged in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint occurred on May 10, 2011, and the last event recorded in Plaintiff's log of activity occurred on May 25, 2011.
9. While Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint alleges that "[s]ince April 28, 2010 and continuing to the present, Defendant Hanzel, and other 8th District Chicago Police Officers have participated in a continuing pattern of harassment of John Doe" (Pl's Second Amended Complaint  at ¶24), which arguably puts in issue the entire period of time captured on the video tapes Plaintiff has preserved on a hard drive, these more general allegations do not, in the Court's view, justify the production of tapes for a period of time that extends much beyond the date in May 2011 that Plaintiff stopped making entries in her log (May 25, 2011) and the last specific date on which Plaintiff ...