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Yahnke v. County of Kane

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 27, 2013

STEVEN YAHNKE, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF KANE, [1] KANE COUNTY SHERIFF PATRICK PEREZ, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

On June 27, 2012, Plaintiff Steven Yahnke ("Yahnke") filed a three-count Complaint against Defendants Kane County and Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez ("Sheriff Perez" or "Perez") alleging a First Amendment political affiliation claim (Count I) and a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim (Count II). See 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the alternative, Yahnke brings a retaliatory discharge claim under Illinois law (Count III) pursuant to the Court's supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Before the Court is Yahnke's motion to compel discovery and motion for sanctions brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. For the following reasons, the Court, in its discretion, grants in large part and denies in part Yahnke's motion to compel. The Court denies Yahnke's motion for sanctions without prejudice. Defendant must produce the OPS files and grievances against Sheriff Perez, as discussed below, to the Court for an in camera review by no later than September 5, 2013. The parties must file an agreed upon protective order addressing Defendant's HIPAA concerns on or before September 11, 2013. After the Court enters the protective order, Defendant must produce the discovery discussed in this order by no later than September 25, 2013.

In addition, the Court denies Defendant's motion for summary judgment and Defendant's motion for leave to file a motion for summary judgment without prejudice with leave to reinstate after Defendant has complied with this discovery order. Moreover, the Court strikes Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts for failing to comply with Rule 56.1's requirements. See Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 883-84 (7th Cir. 2012) (district courts are entitled to strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1). Defendant, for example, relies upon Yahnke's allegations in his Complaint as evidence supporting his facts. Allegations in a complaint, however, are not evidence, and courts may only consider admissible evidence when determining summary judgment motions. See Gunville v. Walker, 583 F.3d 979, 985 (7th Cir. 2009); Nisenbaum v. Milwaukee County, 333 F.3d 804, 810 (7th Cir. 2003). Defendant's bare-boned legal memorandum in support of his summary judgment motion fares no better because there is no fact or analysis section, but simply numbered paragraphs with little or no explanation of how the law applies to the facts of this case. See Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 585 (N.D. Ill. 2000) ("A memorandum in support of (or in opposition to) summary judgment preferably contains two major parts: a fact section and an analysis section. In turn, the analysis section should contain a review of the relevant legal standards supported by citation to caselaw and a thorough application of that law to the specific facts of the case.").

The Court now turns to the present motion to compel.

LEGAL STANDARD

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). Accordingly, "[c]ourts commonly look unfavorably upon significant restrictions placed upon the discovery process." Sauer v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 280 F.R.D. 404, 407 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (citation omitted). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged 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). Indeed, it is well-established that:

The very integrity of the civil justice system depends on compliance with the discovery rules. Discovery cannot be a game of hide-and-seek. Our discovery system depends in large part on self-reporting. When discovery requests are made by a party, the party to whom the request is made has an obligation to respond accurately and fully.

Hogue v. Fruehauf Corp., 151 F.R.D. 635, 639 (C.D. Ill. 1993).

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). "The burden rests upon the objecting party to show why a particular discovery request is improper." Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 450 (N.D. Ill. 2006). "The burden is not satisfied by a reflexive invocation of the same baseless, often abused litany that the requested discovery is vague, ambiguous, overly broad, unduly burdensome, or that it is neither relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.'" Osada v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 290 F.R.D. 485 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (citation omitted). Finally, the Court has broad discretion when resolving discovery disputes. See Central States, Se. & Sw. Areas Pension Fund v. Waste Mgmt. of Mich., Inc., 674 F.3d 630, 636 (7th Cir. 2012).

BACKGROUND

According to the allegations in Yahnke's Complaint, in the fall of 2001 both Perez and Yahnke - who were Kane County Deputy Sheriffs at the time - were interested in running against Sheriff Kenneth Ramsey, a Republican, for Sheriff of Kane County, Illinois. (R. 1, Compl. ¶ 10.) Yahnke wanted to run against Sheriff Ramsey in the Republican primary, and thus, he hired a campaign manager and had approximately $15, 000 in money and pledges. ( Id. ¶ 11.) Sometime thereafter, Yahnke decided that he would not pursue the campaign. ( Id. ¶ 12.) After Yahnke decided not to pursue his campaign for Sheriff, Perez, as a Democrat, ran against Sheriff Ramsey and lost in the general election. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

After Sheriff Ramsey resigned in 2006, Perez planned to run unopposed as a Democrat. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Also, Joe Pena ("Pena") announced that he would run on the Republican ticket for Sheriff of Kane County. ( Id. ) At that time, Yahnke tried to convince Perez to run as a Republican, but Perez refused to do so. ( Id. ¶ 15.) Meanwhile, Kevin Williams ("Williams") then announced that he was running against Pena in the Republican primary and Yahnke vocally supported Williams during the Republican primary. ( Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.) Williams won the Republican nomination and Yahnke continued to vigorously and vocally support Williams' campaign for Sheriff of Kane County after the primary, including, but not limited to, raising funds, attending campaign meetings, and placing signs. ( Id. ¶¶ 18, 19.) On December 2006, Perez won the election and became the Sheriff of Kane County. ( Id. ¶ 20.)

On June 28, 2007, just over six months after Perez was elected Sheriff, Yahnke was injured on the job. ( Id. ¶ 21.) Yahnke alleges that after he was injured "a multitude of fictitious complaints and investigations arose into Yahnke's job, including, but not limited to: his previously approved secondary employment, his alleged failure to submit a travel request when off work due to his work injury, his comp time, and his light duty work which had previously been granted through the chain of command." ( Id. ¶ 22.)

In 2008, Sheriff Perez sought out Steven Ziman ("Ziman") to hold the position of Undersheriff. ( Id. ¶ 23.) Thereafter, Ziman was second in command to Perez. ( Id. ) Yahnke alleges that during the discussion of what discipline would be meted out to Yahnke based upon the fictitious complaints, Ziman asked Sheriff Perez what type of discipline he would give Yahnke, to which Perez responded, "I am going to fire him because some day he is going to run against me for Sheriff." ( Id. ¶ 24.) In addition, Yahnke alleges that upon information and belief, Perez thought that out of all the possible ...


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