United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. ALONSO United States District Judge
the Court is defendants' motion  for ruling on their
objections to Magistrate Judge Mason's ruling in his
April 27, 2016 Order . For the reasons stated below, the
Court overrules defendants' objections.
Kelly Hespe, a Chicago police officer, filed this lawsuit
against the City of Chicago and two individual Chicago police
officers. Plaintiff's central claim is sex discrimination
and hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. As
Magistrate Judge Mason summarized in the Order defendants now
challenge, plaintiff alleges that her supervisor, defendant
Gerald Breimon, “sexually harassed her by pursuing a
romantic relationship with her for over three years, . . .
the City created a hostile work environment by failing to
take prompt action to protect her, and . . . [defendant
threatened to harm plaintiff, in part, because she rebuffed
Breimon's attention.” (Apr. 27, 2016 Order, ECF No.
147, at 1.) The defendants' position is that Breimon and
plaintiff were in a fully consensual, romantic relationship,
and there was no unwelcome harassment or discrimination.
response to discovery requests, plaintiff produced numerous
photographs, voice mail messages, emails and text messages
that she had received from Breimon. Defendants learned during
the October 22, 2015 deposition of plaintiff's mother,
Susan McKay, that McKay was in possession of thousands of
additional voice mail and text messages. At plaintiff's
November 30, 2015 deposition, plaintiff confirmed that she
had sent these materials to her mother for safekeeping
because she was running out of space on her computer.
December 30, 2015, pursuant to subpoena, McKay produced to
defendants all the electronically stored information
(“ESI”) concerning plaintiff and Breimon that was
in her possession. In particular, she produced 5, 748 text
messages, a number that dwarfed the 850 plaintiff had
initially produced in this case. Based in part on the
discovery of this additional information, defendants filed a
motion to extend the discovery deadline and compel plaintiff
to submit to an extension of her deposition. Magistrate Judge
Mason, who supervised discovery in this case (see
ECF No. 67), granted the motion in part, extending the
discovery deadline to March 16, 2016, and granting defendants
leave to depose plaintiff for three and a half additional
hours. (See Jan. 7, 2016 Order, ECF No. 118; Feb.
17, 2016 Order, ECF No. 131.) Judge Mason warned that no
further discovery extensions would be granted. (ECF No. 131,
deposed plaintiff again on March 2, 2016. At the conclusion
of the deposition, defense counsel informed plaintiff that
she “would like an opportunity to inspect
plaintiff's computer . . . and her cell phone” to
search for any unproduced communications with Breimon.
(Excerpts of Pl.'s Dep., 516:3-7, ECF No. 133-2, at 96.)
Plaintiff's counsel stated that he opposed the request.
attempting to confer with plaintiff, as required under Rule
37(a)(1), defendants filed a motion to extend discovery and
compel plaintiff to produce her electronic devices for
inspection, arguing that they could not rely on
plaintiff's representation that she had produced all the
ESI documenting her correspondence with Breimon because, at
her March 2, 2016 deposition, she had made ambiguous
statements about the manner and completeness of her
production. According to defendants, plaintiff admitted at
the March 2 deposition that “the McKay text messages
were saved on her (Plaintiff's) home computer, ”
although McKay produced them to defendants and plaintiff did
not; plaintiff gave her attorneys “some” of the
McKay text messages at one point, but she was unsure when or
whether she gave them all of them; and plaintiff took no
specific steps to preserve electronically stored information
(“ESI”), although she did not intentionally
delete anything other than “dirty” pictures
Breimon had sent her. (Mot. ¶ 18, ECF No. 133; Mot., Ex.
3, Excerpts of Pl.'s Dep., 501:16-503:22, 506:6-510:21,
512:4-516:9, ECF No. 133-2, at 84-96.) Defendants sought to
perform a forensic inspection of plaintiff's devices to
search for unproduced ESI and attempt to recover any relevant
ESI that may have been deleted.
April 27, 2016 Order (ECF No. 147), Magistrate Judge Mason
denied the motion to compel. Judge Mason explained that the
requested forensic inspection of plaintiff's electronic
devices was not proportional to the needs of the case,
especially considering plaintiff's privacy and
confidentiality interests in her personal devices. Further,
Judge Mason reasoned that the motion was not based on any new
developments that truly arose at the March 2 deposition;
rather, to the extent there was any reason to doubt the
completeness of plaintiff's production, it had arisen
months before then.
timely filed objections to Judge Mason's Order.
as here, a district court considers timely objections to a
magistrate judge's rulings on nondispositive matters, the
magistrate judge's rulings will be modified or set aside
only if they are “clearly erroneous or . . . contrary
to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also Domanus v.
Lewicki, 742 F.3d 290, 295 (7th Cir. 2014). Under the
clear-error standard of review, “the district court can
overturn the magistrate judge's ruling only if the
district court is left with the definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been made.” Weeks v. Samsung
Heavy Indus. Co., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997).
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) defines the scope of
discovery as follows:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, ...