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.

Green v. City of Southfield

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 20, 2017

Dawn Green, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Southfield, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' SECOND MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER (D.E. NO. 139)

          Sean F. Cox United States District Court Judge

         The Southfield Defendants (hereinafter “Defendants”) filed two different motions for protective orders, which were referred to the magistrate judge. This matter is currently before the Court on Plaintiff's objections to the magistrate judge's order on Defendants' Second Motion for Protective Order. (D.E. No. 139).

         On November 22, 2016, Magistrate Judge Whalen issued an Order granting the first motion for protective order filed by Defendants. (D.E. No. 103). That order stated that “[f]or the reasons and terms stated on the record on November 17, 2016, City of Southfield Defendants' Motion for Protective Order Preventing the Depositions of Chief Hawkins, Deputy Chief Fitzgerald, and City Administrator Zorn [Doc. #86] is GRANTED, without prejudice to Plaintiff seeking to depose these individuals if justified by their interrogatory responses.” (Id.).

         The transcript of the November 17, 2016 states as follows:

THE COURT: I'm going to grant Southfield's motion, Southfield defendant's motion for the protective order, but without prejudice to raising the issue again, depending upon the responses to the interrogatories that have been propounded.
Now, what I mean by that is if - and I have no idea what the interrogatories say or what the responses are going to be, but if the chief of police or these other two individuals were to indicate in their interrogatories that they have personal knowledge of the underlying - it's the underlying investigation that's critical here. If the interrogatories reveal that they had knowledge of the underlying investigation or they somehow participated in the underlying investigation, then a deposition, at least a limited deposition - deposition might be warranted.
At this point - and I'm familiar with the Serrano case. At this point the plaintiff has not overcome the presumption as to these - these high-level executives, certainly not the - city manager. So on that basis I'll grant the motion without prejudice to raising it if necessary following the interrogatory responses. I'll enter a written order incorporating those comments.

(D.E. No. 118 at Pg ID 2441) (emphasis added). Thus, the magistrate judge precluded the depositions as issue under the apex doctrine, because he concluded the individuals at issue lacked personal knowledge relating to Plaintiff's claims.

         On December 22, 2016, Defendants filed their “Second Motion for Protective Order” (D.E. No. 116) wherein they asked the Court to preclude the depositions of: 1) Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins; 2) Southfield Deputy Police Chief John Fitzgerald; 3) Southfield City Administrator Frederick Zorn; 4) an unidentified front desk police officer; 5) an unidentified “person in IT” at the City of Southfield, and 6) City Administrator Zorn's secretary. Defendants asked the Court to preclude the depositions of Hawkins, Fitzgerald, and Zorn under the “Apex Doctrine” because those persons lack personal knowledge and because “[t]he Apex Doctrine presumes that the depositions of high-level officers are harassing and abusive.” (Defs.' Motion at 1) (emphasis added). Defendants also argued that the Court should preclude all of the depositions because they are irrelevant to Plaintiff's cause of action and not likely to lead to admissible evidence. Defendants also asked the Court to preclude Plaintiff from propounding requests for admission for the remainder of the case, arguing that Plaintiff's Counsel had drafted them in an improper manner.

         On March 14, 2017, the magistrate judge issued an Order (D.E. No. 139) in which he ruled that “[f]or the reasons and under the terms stated on the record on February 7, 2017, City of Southfield Defendants' Second Motion for Protective Order [Doc. #116] is GRANTED.” That order set forth two rulings in connection with the motion. First, the magistrate judge ruled that “Plaintiff will not be permitted to depose Eric Hawkins (Southfield Police Chief), John Fitzgerald (Deputy Police Chief), Frederick Zorn (Southfield City Administrator), Mr. Zorn's secretary, a City of Southfield IT representative, or any other City of Southfield personnel regarding what Plaintiff has characterized as her ‘citizen's complaint.'” (Id. at Pg ID 3058). Second, the magistrate judge ruled that the “motion for protective order is also granted with respect to the Requests for Admission submitted by Plaintiff. However, Plaintiff is permitted to resubmit properly framed Requests for Admission, as stated on the record.” (Id. at Pg ID 3059).

         Notably, the transcript of the motion hearing reflects that the magistrate judge was making the ruling on the depositions under the apex doctrine. (2/7/17 Hrg. Tr. at 24). He stated that “the depositions of these individuals would be irrelevant, and balanced against the burden of producing these individuals under the apex doctrine would be disproportional. So I'll grant the protective order.” (Id. at 24-25).

         Pursuant to Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when a magistrate judge issues an order pertaining to a nondispositive motion, a party may file objections to that order within 14 days after being served with it. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). “The district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.”

         On March 28, 2017, Plaintiff filed objections to the magistrate judge's Order on Defendants' Second Motion for Protective Order.

         I. Objection To Portion Of Order Pertaining To ...


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.