United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeffrey Cummings, Magistrate Judge.
hearing held on plaintiff's motion to compel discovery
from defendant Murillo . For the reasons stated below,
and on the record in open court, plaintiff's motion to
compel is granted. Defendant Murillo shall provide amended
responses to plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories by
12/10/19. Defendant Thomas shall respond to outstanding
discovery requests by 11/26/19. Status hearing set for
12/19/19 at 10:00 a.m.
Ezra Hill has sued the City of Harvey, two Harvey police
officers, Cook County, and Cook County Assistant State's
Attorneys Thomas Reardon and Ed Murillo pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for malicious prosecution and false arrest.
Hill's claims arise out of his arrest and prosecution for
an attempted murder that took place on March 12, 2014. A jury
found Hill not guilty on March 8, 2017. This action followed.
in this matter is ongoing. On April 5, 2019, Cook County
produced a “Fact Sheet” documenting the events
leading to the approval of a warrant for Hill's arrest.
(Dkt. 121 at Ex. A.) The Fact Sheet revealed that on March
20, 2014, Assistant State's Attorney Murillo (1) obtained
a McDonald's surveillance video; and (2) described the
video as showing Hill ordering food at McDonald's moments
after the shooting. (Id. at 11.) It is undisputed
that Murillo approved the arrest warrant for Hill on March
20, 2014 and that he subsequently approved felony charges
against Hill on September 3, 2014.
took Murillo's deposition on September 30, 2019 and
questioned him about the McDonald's video. Despite having
reviewed the video in advance of the deposition, Murillo
denied plaintiff's counsel's repeated requests to
identify Hill in the video at the deposition. According to
Murillo, he could not identify Hill without also reviewing
all of the reports and information he would have reviewed
back in 2014 before approving the charges against Hill.
days after the deposition, plaintiff served Murillo with
three interrogatories asking that Murillo identify where in
the video he contends that Hill is shown and to identify each
document he relied on to assist in his identification.
Murillo responded to each interrogatory with the following
Defendant objects to Interrogatory no. [1-3] because it is
harassing in that it was previously asked at Defendant's
deposition on September 30, 2019. Without waiving said
objection, Defendant states that he has nothing to add to his
deposition testimony at this time. See transcript of
Deposition of Ed Murillo, September 30, 2019.
(Dkt. 121 at Ex. E.) Plaintiff subsequently filed the instant
motion to compel, seeking an order compelling Murillo to
provide adequate, non-evasive answers to the interrogatories.
For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion is
although the Court does not view Murillo's responses as
intentionally evasive, his attempt to respond by referring
plaintiff back to his deposition testimony is insufficient to
fulfil his responsibility under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 33. Under Rule 33, answers to interrogatories must
be “complete, explicit and responsive.” Brock
v. Hooker Chem. & Plastics Corp., No. 83 C 8383,
1985 WL 2120, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 24, 1985), quoting
Milner v. National School of Health Technology,
73 F.R.D. 628, 632-33 (E.D. Pa. 1977); Trane Co. v.
Klutznick, 87 F.R.D. 473, 476 (W.D. Wis. 1980)
(“Under Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, a party must give full and complete answers to
interrogatories served on him by another party.”) It is
well-settled that “[i]ncorporation by reference to a
deposition is not a responsive answer.” Hoffman v.
United Telecommunications, Inc., 117 F.R.D. 436, 440 (D.
Kan. 1987); Brock, 1985 WL 2120, at *1;
Starlight Int'l Inc. v. Herlihy, 186 F.R.D. 626,
640 (D. Kan. 1999) (“A party may not properly answer an
interrogatory by referring generically to testimony given
upon deposition”); Dana Corp. v. Am. Standard,
No. 3:92-CV-581RM, 1994 WL 228537, at *1 (N.D. Ind. Apr. 15,
1994) (explaining that answers to interrogatories
“should not refer to the pleadings, or to
depositions…or to other interrogatories, at least
where such references make it impossible to determine whether
an adequate answer has been given without an elaborate
comparison of answers.”) (internal quotation marks
omitted) (citing cases). In sum: Murillo's attempt to
respond with a generic reference to his deposition transcript
even if Murillo could properly levy an “asked and
answered” objection to these interrogatories, see
e.g. Starlight, 186 F.R.D. at 640 (contemplating such an
objection may be appropriate under some circumstances if the
information sought is duplicative), a review of the relevant
portions of the transcript reveals that Murillo did
not answer these questions at his deposition. Instead,
as explained above, Murillo responded that he could not
identify Hill in the video without first reviewing the
reports and information he would have reviewed in 2014 before
approving the charges. It is well-settled that Murillo
“cannot answer [an] interrogatory simply by referring
[plaintiff[ to an equally unresponsive answer.”
Kleppinger v. Texas Department of Transportation,
No. 5:10-CV-124, 2013 WL 12138545, at *4 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 3,
2013) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing cases).
plaintiffs motion to compel is granted. Murillo is directed
to review the underlying case file that remains in Cook
County's possession to determine whether he can identify
Hill in the McDonald's video and, if so, which documents
he relied on to make that identification. If Murillo is
unable to identify Hill in the video even after his ...