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Campbell v. Mack

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

November 7, 2017

KEVIN CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL MACK et al., Defendants.

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL [37] AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL [48]

          MONA K. MAJZOUB, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Kevin Campbell's Motion to Compel Discovery from Defendant Allen Park (docket no. 37) and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendants to Provide Unredacted Files of Any Other Persons Strip Searched or Bodily Cavity Searched by Defendant Mack (docket no. 48). Defendants responded to Plaintiff's Motions, and Plaintiff replied to Defendants' Response to the second Motion. (Docket nos. 40, 41, 52, 53.) The parties have also filed Joint Statements of Resolved and Unresolved Issues regarding Plaintiffs' Motions. (Docket nos. 46, 54.) The Motions have been referred to the undersigned for consideration. (Docket nos. 38, 49.) The Court has reviewed the pleadings and dispenses with oral argument on Plaintiff's first Motion to Compel pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2). The Court heard oral argument regarding Plaintiff's second Motion to Compel on October 30, 2017 at 1:30 p.m., at which the Court took the matter under advisement. The Court is now ready to rule pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 10, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Allen Park and three of its police officers: Daniel Mack, P. Morris, and an Unknown Officer. (Docket no. 1.) The parties stipulated to the dismissal of Defendant Morris on December 20, 2016, and Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint on February 23, 2017, adding Allen Park Police Officers Patrick Moore and Kevin Gersky as Defendants. (Docket nos. 21, 28.) In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Mack pulled him over on June 7, 2016, for not having a visible license plate, and upon determining that Plaintiff's driver's license was suspended, he arrested Plaintiff, searched Plaintiff's car with the assistance of a canine, and took Plaintiff to the Allen Park Police Station. (Docket no. 28 ¶¶ 8-12, 14.) At the police station, Defendant Mack allegedly performed strip searches and body cavity searches of Plaintiff in the presence of and with assistance from Defendants Moore and Gersky. (Id. ¶¶ 15-28, 39.) Plaintiff alleges that the actions of Defendants Mack, Moore, and Gersky violated his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from wrongful stop, search and seizure, and use of excessive force, as well as his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and fair treatment during a stop, search, seizure, and arrest. (Id. ¶ 35.) Plaintiff also asserts a municipal liability claim against Defendant City of Allen Park and a state-law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Id. ¶¶ 40-47.) Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of twenty million dollars.

         The instant Motions to Compel arise from Plaintiff's Combined Discovery Request Directing Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents, and Defendants' responses thereto. (See docket nos. 37-2, 37-3.) In particular, Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery from Defendant Allen Park concerns Plaintiff's Interrogatory nos. 5, 7, 22, 23, and 24 and Request for Production (“RFP”) nos. 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14, 18, 23, 24, 27, and 28. (Docket no. 37 at 7-13.) Plaintiff does not identify a specific discovery request at issue in his Motion to Compel Defendants to Provide Unredacted Files of Any Other Persons Strip Searched or Bodily Cavity Searched by Defendant Mack;[1] however, in their Response to the Motion, Defendants indicate that the Motion concerns documents that they provided as part of their supplemental response to Plaintiff's Interrogatory no. 18. (See docket no. 48, docket no. 52 at 7.) According to the Joint Statements of Resolved and Unresolved Issues filed in this matter, the parties have resolved their disputes regarding Interrogatory no. 22 and RFP nos. 6 and 23. The Court will now address the parties' arguments regarding the remaining fourteen discovery requests at issue.

         II. GOVERNING LAW

         The scope of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is traditionally quite broad. Lewis v. ACB Bus. Servs., 135 F.3d 389, 402 (6th Cir. 1998). Parties may obtain discovery on any matter that is not privileged, is relevant to any party's claim or defense, and is proportional to the needs of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Relevant evidence” is “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. Information need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). But the scope of discovery is not unlimited. “District courts have discretion to limit the scope of discovery where the information sought is overly broad or would prove unduly burdensome to produce.” Surles ex rel. Johnson v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 474 F.3d 288, 305 (6th Cir. 2007).

         Rules 33 and 34 allow a party to serve interrogatories and requests for production of documents on an opposing party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33, 34. A party receiving these types of discovery requests has thirty days to respond with answers or objections. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2), 34(b)(2)(A). If the party receiving discovery requests under Rules 33 or 34 fails to respond properly, Rule 37 provides the party who sent the discovery the means to file a motion to compel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). If a court grants a Rule 37 motion to compel, or if discovery is received after a Rule 37 motion is filed, then the court must award reasonable expenses and attorney's fees to the successful party, unless the successful party did not confer in good faith before the motion, the opposing party's position was substantially justified, or other circumstances would make an award unjust. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery from Defendant Allen Park

         1. Interrogatory no. 5 and Request for Production nos. 5, 9, and 14

         Plaintiff's Interrogatory no. 5 requests the complete disciplinary history of Defendant Mack. (Docket no. 37-3 at 4.) Defendant City of Allen Park objected to this interrogatory as follows:

Defendant objects to interrogatory number 5 as it seeks information precluded by the Order of the Court granting a stay as to Defendant Mack and also seeks information which is overbroad, unduly burdensome and seeks information which is wholly irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims. Without waiving this objection, Ofc. Mack has never been disciplined for actions related to the search of a subject.

(Id.) Plaintiff's RFP nos. 5, 9, and 14 seek similar information from Defendant City of Allen Park:

5. Complete disciplinary, internal affairs, personal affairs, citizen complaints and personnel files including any and all psychological evaluations in hiring for Defendant Mack.
9. Complete psychological testing records in the hiring process or otherwise of defendant Mack.
14. The complete investigation files for any citizen complaints for Defendant Mack.

(Id. at 9, 10.) Defendant submitted the following response to RFP no. 5:

Defendant objects to this Request to Produce as it seeks information precluded by the Order of the Court granting a stay as to Defendant Mack and also seeks information which is overbroad, unduly burdensome and seeks information which is wholly irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims. Without waiving this objection, Ofc. Mack has never been disciplined for actions related to the search of a subject, has not been the subject of a citizen complaint related to the search of a subject and the City does not maintain and/or possess the psychological evaluation dating back to Ofc. Mack's date of hire.

(Id. at 9.) For its responses to RFP nos. 9 and 14, Defendant referred Plaintiff to its response to RFP no. 5. (Id. at 10.)

         In response to Plaintiff's Motion, Defendant City of Allen Park argues that Plaintiff's requests are overly broad because they lack any temporal or substantive restraints. (Docket no. 40 at 15.) Defendant explains that it has employed Defendant Mack for twenty-two years and argues that “[i]t is unclear how discipline dating back to 1995, for example, and unrelated to the search of a subject, is in any way relevant to the issues raised in Plaintiff's Complaint.” (Id. at 8, 9.) Defendant also argues that Defendant Mack's personnel file contains highly personal information unrelated to Plaintiff's claims, and he therefore has a tremendous interest in preventing it from being disclosed to the general public. (Id. at 16.) Defendant claims that there are less intrusive ways for Plaintiff to get the information he seeks from Defendant Mack's personnel file, e.g., through narrower RFPs or through his deposition testimony. (Id. at 16-17.) In reply, Plaintiff asserts that the records he seeks should be produced because he has brought claims not only for wrongful search but for wrongful stop, wrongful arrest, excessive force, and failure to stop another officer from violating a citizen's rights. (Docket no. 46 at 5, 6.)

         Having considered Plaintiff's Interrogatory no. 5 and RFP nos. 5, 9, and 14, Defendant City of Allen Park's responses thereto, and the parties' arguments for and against the discovery of the information sought through these requests, the Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion in this regard. The Court acknowledges that the discovery stay in place with regard to Defendant Mack has expired and that the production of information responsive to these requests could lead to the discovery of relevant, admissible evidence. Nevertheless, the Court finds that these discovery requests are overbroad as written, as they seek irrelevant information and documents that are outside the scope of discovery in this matter. Specifically, Plaintiff failed to appropriately tailor these requests to the aspects of Defendant Mack's disciplinary history, personnel file, etc. (if any) that are relevant to Plaintiff's claims of wrongful stop, wrongful arrest, wrongful search, and excessive force. Additionally, with regard to RFP no. 9, Defendant has indicated that it does not have any psychological records related to Defendant Mack in its possession, custody, or control, and the Court cannot order Defendant to produce that which it does not have. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel the production of information and documents responsive to Interrogatory no. 5 and RFP nos. 5, 9, and 14 will therefore be denied.

         2. ...


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