United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER  AND
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III, United States District Judge
Jeffrey Wynes brings this section 1983 action against police
officer Michael Paramo and Paramo's current employer, the
City of Royal Oak. Wynes served Royal Oak, as well some of
Paramo's previous employers, with subpoenas for
production of documents related to Wynes. Defendant Royal Oak
objects to providing the requested documents and filed the
instant motion. For the reasons below, the Court will grant
the motion in part and deny it in part.
case arises out of Wynes's arrest on Halloween night
2015. Wynes alleges that Michael Paramo, a police officer for
the City of Royal Oak, mistreated him in making the arrest.
Six of the seven counts in Wynes's complaint are solely
against Paramo. One of the counts is against Royal Oak and
claims that the City "knew, or should have known, of
Defendant Paramo's propensity to violate the rights of
individuals in the manner alleged" because "[p]rior
to the date of this incident Defendant Paramo had been sued
in his capacity as police officer on at least one prior
occasion for allegations including excessive force, false
arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, and
intentional infliction of emotional distress, in Oakland
County Circuit Court[.]" ECF 1, ¶¶ 46-47.
Wynes alleges that Royal Oak failed to properly screen its
police officers. Id. at ¶ 51.
instant motion concerns Wynes's subpoenas, which command
Paramo's former employers-the City of Pontiac, the City
of Sylvan Lake, and Washtenaw County-to produce personnel
files concerning Paramo. The files are to include "all
citizen complaints" made against Paramo and "all
materials pertaining to any discipline imposed" against
him. Subpoenas, ECF 14-2, 14-3, 14-4. The Pontiac subpoena
additionally seeks "a copy of any settlement agreement
in Ortiz v. City of Pontiac, et al., " the case
mentioned in the complaint and in which Paramo had allegedly
been sued. ECF 14-2, PgID 79.
now move for a protective order to prevent the release of
personnel files and the settlement agreement on the grounds
that they are privileged and irrelevant.
general, the scope of discovery is broad, Lewis v. ACB
Bus. Servs., Inc., 135 F.3d 389, 402 (6th Cir. 1998).
Materials that would not admissible at trial may nevertheless
be discoverable under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)
if they are "reasonably calculated to lead to the
discovery of admissible evidence." Id. But
discovery is not boundless; the Court may limit or regulate
the disclosure of materials "to protect a party or
person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1).
Accordingly, the Court may quash or modify a subpoena under
certain circumstances. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3).
begin, Defendants argue that the material sought is not
relevant. Wynes alleges that Royal Oak inadequately screened,
trained, and supervised its officers, including Paramo. He
argues that Royal Oak "may be held liable if it knew
about Defendant Paramo's prior instances of misconduct
and . . . nonetheless hired him" or if it failed to
uncover such instances due to an inadequate screening
process. Resp., ECF 17, PgID 102. But Defendants argue that
the personnel files of the other municipalities are
irrelevant to what Royal Oak knew or did in its own hiring
and training of Paramo.
Court disagrees. When Royal Oak hired Paramo, it hired a
career police officer. Paramo had worked for three other
municipalities before joining the ranks of Royal Oak's
police force. It stands to reason that Royal Oak, like many
other employers, may have reached out to Paramo's former
employers to check references or otherwise inquire about him.
If Paramo left a trail of misdeeds behind him, the
particulars of those deeds-and the ease of their discovery-is
relevant to the claim against Royal Oak. Thus, what matters
is not just "what Royal Oak knew upon hiring him, "
Mot., ECF 14, PgID 75, but what Royal Oak should
have known through appropriate diligence. Paramo's
personnel files are therefore relevant.
settlement agreement, on the other hand, is not. Generally, a
settlement agreement is inadmissible to "either to prove
or disprove the validity or amount of a disputed claim,
" yet may be admissible "for another purpose, such
as proving a witness's bias or prejudice, negating a
contention of undue delay, or proving an effort to obstruct a
criminal investigation or prosecution." Fed.R.Evid. 408.
An inadmissible agreement may nevertheless be discoverable,
however, if the party seeking it makes a showing that his
request is "reasonably calculated to lead to admissible
evidence." Doe v. Aramark Educ. Res., Inc., 206
F.R.D. 459, 461 (M.D. Tenn. 2002). The Court finds that the
information contained in the settlement agreement would not
tend to make a fact of consequence more or less probable, and
further finds that Wynes has not shown that his pursuit of
the agreement is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible
evidence. The agreement is therefore not discoverable.