Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Grayson v. City of Aurora

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 19, 2013

JONATHAN GRAYSON, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF AURORA, ILLINOIS, Aurora Police Sergeant KEARBEY, Aurora Police Investigators WALLERS, SOTO, KINNEY, and ROBERTSON, Aurora Police Detectives WEST, THOMPSON, GUMZ, and as-yet Unknown Current or Former City of Aurora, Illinois Employees and/or as-yet Unknown Aurora Police Department Employees, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jonathan Grayson sued the City of Aurora, Illinois; Aurora Police Sergeant T. Kearby (Star 454); Aurora Police Investigators Robb Wallers (Star 279), Alvin Soto (Star 210), Kinney (Star 109), and R. Robertson (Star 225); Aurora Police Detectives Dan West (Star 245), J. Thompson (Star 309), and Michael Gumz (Star 165); and as-yet Unknown Current or Former City of Aurora, Illinois Employees and/or as-yet Unknown Current or Former Aurora Police Department Employees ("Defendants") for violations of his constitutional rights stemming from being wrongfully imprisoned for eleven years. Grayson seeks to compel discovery of the individual Defendants' personnel files, citizen complaint files, and complete employee complaint histories by Defendant City of Aurora ("Aurora"). For the following reasons, Grayson's Motion to Compel Discovery is granted, subject to the limitations outlined below.

BACKGROUND

On June 19, 2013, Grayson sent Aurora his First Set of Requests for Production. (Dkt. No. 44-2 at pp. 5-12.) Paragraphs 15 through 17 therein request: "All files maintained by the Department relating to any Defendant Officer, including a complete personnel file, disciplinary history, employee complaint history and general history printout;" "All employment evaluations maintained by the Department relating to each Defendant;" and "All Documents maintained by the Department relating to any Complaints of any kind (internal or citizen, etc.) regarding each Defendant Office. This request specifically includes but is not limited to all Complaints and Lawsuits filed against each officers. [ sic ] This Request seeks all such Documents without temporal limitation." ( Id. at p. 8.) Aurora's responses to paragraphs 15 through 17 of Plaintiff's First Set of Production Requests on August 6, 2013[1] were: "Objection, relevance;" "Objection, relevance;" and "Objection, request #17 is vague, overbroad in time and scope and unduly burdensome. It is not reasonably calculated to lead to any relevant discovery admissible as evidence in this matter. Without waiving said objections, Defendant will produce any OPS files for the past five years upon entry of the appropriate protective order, " respectively. ( Id. at p. 21.)

On August 22, 2013, Grayson's attorney sent a letter to Aurora providing further explanation as to why he believes the documents requested are relevant and not overbroad in time, vague, or unduly burdensome. (Dkt. No. 44-3 at pp. 1-3.) Grayson's attorney sent another letter on September 10, 2013 indicating that she had not heard from Aurora regarding the August 22nd letter. ( Id. at p. 4.) A phone conversation subsequently took place and was memorialized in a letter Grayson's attorney sent to Aurora's attorney on September 18, 2013. ( Id. at 6-7.) Therein, Grayson's attorney describes an impasse regarding Aurora's refusal to produce the individual Defendants' personnel files, citizen complaint files, and complete employee complaint histories. ( Id. )

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The federal notice pleading system contemplates that parties will have broad discovery to investigate the facts and help define and clarify the issues. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978); United States v. Farley, 11 F.3d 1385, 1390 (7th Cir. 1993). Accordingly, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) gives expansive power to discover information "regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id .; see also Oppenheimer, 437 U.S. at 351 (information is relevant if it "bears on" or might reasonably lead to information that "bears on" any material fact or issue in the action); EEOC v. Konica Minolta Bus. Solutions U.S.A., Inc., 639 F.3d 366, 369 (7th Cir. 2011). Because discovery is concerned with "relevant information"-not "relevant evidence"-the scope of relevance for discovery purposes is necessarily broader than it is for trial evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence ("FRE") 401. See, e.g., Konica Minolta, 639 F.3d at 369 (EEOC subpoena); EEOC v. United Air Lines, Inc., 287 F.3d 643, 649 (7th Cir. 2002) (EEOC subpoena) (citing United States v. Arthur Young & Co., 465 U.S. 805, 814 (1984) (IRS subpoena)).

District courts addressing discovery-related disputes in cases involving Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv. of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) claims have routinely recognized that such claims often require a broad and substantial amount of discovery that would not be involved if the plaintiff sued only the individuals directly involved in the deprivation of his rights. See Castillo v. City of Chicago, 2012 WL 1658350, *2 (N.D. Ill. May 11, 2012); Tanner v. City of Waukegan, 2011 WL 686867, *8 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 2011); Medina v. City of Chicago, 100 F.Supp.2d 893, 894 (N.D. Ill. 2000) ("[T]he decision of a plaintiff to pursue a Monell claim carries with it a heavy burden of discovery and proof.") However, liberal discovery does not mean unlimited discovery, Oppenheimer, 437 U.S. at 351-52, and Rule 26 vests the trial judge with broad discretion to tailor discovery narrowly and dictate its sequence. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 598 (1998).

Motions to compel discovery are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, which requires the movant to certify that it has tried in good faith the resolve the discovery dispute without court interference. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Furthermore, under Local Rule 37.2, the moving party must show that (1) after consultation in person or by telephone and good faith attempts to resolve differences the parties are unable to reach an accord, or (2) counsel's attempts to engage in such consultation were unsuccessful due to no fault of counsel's. L.R. 37.2. District courts enjoy broad discretion when considering motions to compel, Packman v. Chicago Tribune Co., 267 F.3d 628, 646 (7th Cir. 2001), and have "consistently adopted a liberal interpretation of the discovery rules." See, e.g., Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 450 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (quoting Wilstein v. San Tropai Condominium Master Assoc., 189 F.R.D. 371, 375 (N.D. Ill. 1999)).

DISCUSSION

First, Grayson has satisfied the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 and has complied with Local Rule 37.2. He made good faith efforts to resolve discovery issues with Aurora before filing his Motion to Compel Discovery. Attached to his motion are copies of the letters he sent to Aurora regarding their discussions, in which he explains the extent to which Aurora is objecting to his requests. Aurora does not dispute that it received these letters and discussed production of the documents at issue with Grayson. Accordingly, Grayson's Motion to Compel Discovery is properly before the Court.

Grayson asks Aurora to produce the individual Defendants' complete personnel files, citizen complaint files, and complete employee complaint histories. Aurora's objection is that Grayson's Monell claims do not entitle him to any records dated after his 2002 conviction. (Dkt. No. 50 at p. 4.)

I. Grayson's Monell Claim

A. Relevance of Requested ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.