United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MICHAEL MINER, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
GOVERNMENT PAYMENT SERVICE, INC. d/b/a GOV PAY NET, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge
putative class action, Plaintiff Michael Miner complains
about fees charged by Defendant Government Payment Service,
Inc., d/b/a GovPayNet, to Illinois residents who used their
credit or debit cards to make cash bail payments in the
state. Plaintiff claims that Defendant's charges for bail
and bond services violate the Illinois Consumer Fraud and
Deceptive Business Practices Act (“ICFA”), 815
ILCS 505/1 et seq. (Count I), and that Defendant is
also liable for unjust enrichment (Count III) and conversion
(Count V). Currently before the Court is
Plaintiff's motion  regarding the scope of class
discovery. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's
motion  is granted in part and denied in part. This case
is set for further status on September 27, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.
Plaintiff is given leave to re-file a motion for class
certification by September 26, 2017 if he believes such a
motion is necessary at this time despite the overruling of
the Damasco decision in Chapman v. First Index,
Inc., 796 F.3d 783 (7th Cir. 2015). The now-pending
motion for class certification , which is not yet ready
for briefing as class discovery remains ongoing, will be
stricken on September 27, 2017.
is a credit card processor that provides bail and bond
payment processing services to various law enforcement and
county agencies.  at ¶ 7. Generally, a card
processor charges merchants a fee for the services it
provides. Some government entities that accept credit cards,
however, require contractual terms that direct the card
processor to charge a convenience fee directly to the
consumer so that the government entity is not charged a fee.
such county that contracted with Defendant in this way was
Cook County, Illinois. In a contract effective in 2005,
Defendant agreed to provide Cook County with “Credit
Card Bail Service.” See [75-1] (Contract for Service).
The contract makes clear that Defendant “shall not
charge the County any fees or costs for the Credit Card Bail
Service * * * . [Defendant's] fee shall be limited to the
service fees charged to Arrested Individuals” who used
credit cards to post bail service fees. See id. at
3, 7. The service fees ranged from $20 to 8% of the total
bail amount. Id. at 7. According to Plaintiff, the
contractual relationship between Cook County and Defendant
lasted until 2012. See  at ¶ 17. Defendant has
entered into “separate, independent” contracts
with other Illinois counties as well. See  at 7.
availed himself of Defendant's services to make a bail
payment in September 2011, presumably pursuant to the
contract between Cook County and Defendant. Specifically,
Plaintiff used his credit card to pay the Clerk of Circuit
Court of Cook County (“Clerk”) a bail deposit of
$2, 612 for two traffic citations he received in East Hazel
Crest, Illinois. Id. at ¶¶ 20, 21.
Defendant charged Plaintiff for the $2, 612 bail deposit and
an additional 8% (or $208.96) for providing him bail and bond
services. Id. at ¶ 21. The Village of East
Hazel Crest then voluntarily dismissed Plaintiff's
citations, and the court directed the Clerk to refund the
full amount of bail paid. Id. at ¶ 23.
Defendant did not refund or reimburse Plaintiff the 8%
additional charge for the bail and bond services.
Id. at ¶ 24.
to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) and (b)(3),
Plaintiff brought this action on behalf of himself and a
class of similarly situated Illinois residents. Id.
at ¶¶ 1, 31, 34.
specifically seeks to represent a class of individuals
defined as follows:
All residents of the State of Illinois who paid a bail
deposit with a credit or debit card and who were charged a
fee by [Defendant] for purported bail bond services during
the period September 25, 2009, through the date of final
Id. at ¶ 26. However, the specific allegations
of wrongdoing involving Plaintiff-the single named class
representative-alleged in the amended complaint pertain
solely to his transaction in Cook County. The amended
complaint does not contain any allegations that relate to
other Illinois counties. See generally id.
propounded interrogatories and document requests on Defendant
in October 2015. Defendant provided initial written responses
in June 2015 and amended responses in May 2016. Defendant
also has produced some 1, 300 documents and a spreadsheet
identifying potential Cook County class members. See .
The parties have conducted three meet-and-confer conferences
regarding issues with these requests and responses. Unable to
resolve the disputes through those efforts, Plaintiff has
requested Court intervention. Specifically, the parties have
reached an impasse regarding the geographic scope of
discovery requested. Plaintiff propounded discovery requests
seeking “discoverable information and documents for a
putative class of all Illinois residents who paid a bail
deposit with a credit or debit card and were charged a fee by
Defendant for purported bail bond services.”  at 4.
Defendant characterizes these requests as
“oceanic” and has limited its responses to
payments “utilizing the card processing services
promulgated and authorized by the County of Cook and the
State of Illinois and processed by” Defendant. See,
e.g., [75-2] (Defendant's First Amended Answers
to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories) at 1
(“Unless otherwise indicated, [Defendant's]
responses are limited to the payment of cash bail utilizing
the card processing services promulgated and authorized by
the County of Cook and the State of Illinois and processed by
[Defendant]”), 4 (“based on the allegations in
the Amended Complaint, any purported class must be limited,
at its broadest, to Illinois residents paying a credit or
debit card processing fee to [Defendant] when using a credit
card to post cash bail in Cook County”); [75-3]
(Defendant's First Amended Responses to Plaintiff's
First Request for Production) at 13 (objecting to Request No.
23 “to the extent it seeks information related to said
items outside Cook County”). Accordingly, Plaintiff has
submitted a Federal Rule of Procedure 12(c) motion for a
“judicial determination of the appropriate scope”
of Plaintiff's class discovery. See  at 1. Plaintiff
also takes issue with other of Defendant's discovery
responses that Plaintiff believes to be insufficient because
Defendant's responses direct Plaintiff to seek the
information from third parties without first demonstrating
that Defendant lacks possession, custody, or control of such
information. Plaintiff appears to seek an order compelling
the production of such information. See id. at 5-6.
the Court previously indicated that a Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c) motion appeared to be an appropriate vehicle
for presenting the issues concerning the proper scope of this
litigation, after consideration of the briefs and the
pertinent case law, the Court concludes that this is actually
a discovery dispute between the parties over the proper scope
of class discovery-not a motion for a judgment of any kind.
Accordingly, the Court will issue a ruling that comports with
its current understanding of how best to move this case
forward to disposition.
well-established that the federal discovery rules permit
liberal discovery in an effort to facilitate the trial or
settlement of legal disputes. Bond v. Utreras, 585
F.3d 1061, 1075 (7th Cir. 2009). 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a) permits a
party to “move for an order compelling disclosure or
discovery.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Under Rule 37(a),
“an evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or
response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or
respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). A party objecting to
the discovery request-here, Defendant-bears the burden of
showing why the request is improper. See Kodish v.
Oakbrook Terrace Fire Protection Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447,
449-450 (N.D. Ill. 2006). The Court has broad discretion when
reviewing a discovery dispute and “should consider the
totality of the circumstances, weighing the value of material