United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Jeffery T. Gilbert Magistrate Judge
Status hearing held on 7/17/15. Defendant City of Chicago's Renewed Motion to Bifurcate Section 1983 Claims and to Stay Discovery and Trial on Those Claims 122 is denied for the reasons stated on the record and summarized in the Statement below. The Court's ruling on the record is expressly incorporated in this Order. Any motion for review of this ruling before the District Judge must be accompanied by a transcript of today's hearing. Plaintiff shall serve her Rule 30(b)(6) deposition notice concerning Monell issues by 7/31/15. A continued status hearing is set for 8/12/15 at 9:15 a.m. to establish dates for expert disclosures. Defendants disclosed their medical expert to Plaintiff yesterday and they will provide Plaintiff with the material noted on the record in 60 days or by 9/17/15. See Statement below for further details.
The basic underpinnings of the Court's decision not to bifurcate for trial Plaintiffs Section 1983 claims against the individual police officer Defendants and her Monell claim against Defendant City of Chicago are as follows:
(1) Additional fact discovery relevant only to the Monell claim is minimal. Plaintiff proposes to take one Rule 30(b)(6) deposition on her policy, custom and practice claim. Plaintiffs counsel represents that it may not have been necessary to notice a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition at all if Defendant Evans had not invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege in refusing to answer virtually every question put to him during his deposition. Even if Defendant City of Chicago needs to produce more than one Rule 30(b)(6) witness to comply with Plaintiffs Rule 30(b)(6) notice, however, that discovery will not be unduly burdensome. Further, the one expert witness on Monell issues that Plaintiff proposes will not overly complicate or delay discovery or preparation for trial.
Simply put, the spectre of much expanded discovery on 2i Monell claim that has led some courts to bifurcate individual liability claims and Monell claims does not exist in this case. The additional Monell discovery that Plaintiff proposes to take here is not of a kind or nature that will unduly delay or complicate the preparation of this case for trial or dispositive motion practice. Other judges have authorized much more expansive discovery in denying motions to bifurcate. See, e.g, Cadiz v. Kruger, 2007 WL 4293976*4 (N.D.
Ill. Nov. 29, 2007)Cwe are not persuaded that the 12-13 witnesses who would speak to the Monell claim dramatically expands the scope of the case from what it otherwise would be.").
(2) Plaintiffs underlying Section 1983 claim against the individual police officer Defendants is straightforward, well-plead and very well may have merit if the allegations are proven to be true. She alleges that Defendant Evans, a police lieutenant at the time, was summoned to the police lockup when Plaintiff objected to being fingerprinted and "violently pressed his fist into plaintiffs nose for several minutes saying he would push her nose through her brain." Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 95] at para. 9. Plaintiff further alleges that other individual Defendants specifically summoned Evans to the lockup saying "we know someone who can get your fingerprints." Id. at para. 8.
Plaintiff alleges a "widespread practice" in the Chicago Police Department to support members of the department who engage in unlawful and excessive use of force. Specifically, she alleges as follows in paragraph 13 of her Second Amended Complaint for Monell purposes:
"a. Chicago Police officers who frequently receive citizen complaints, like Evans, remain employed with the department;
b. Chicago Police officers, like Evans, are not disciplined or provided remedial supervision;
c. Subordinates within the department are aware supervisors, like Evans, are not disciplined for the use of excessive force;
d. Chicago Police officers fail to document the application offeree by department members;
e. Chicago Police officers know IPRA fails to meaningfully investigate allegations of misconduct; and
f. Certain police officers, like Evans, are routinely called on by members of the department to ...