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.

Vukadinovich v. Hanover Community School Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

February 20, 2014

BRIAN VUKADINOVICH, Plaintiff,
v.
HANOVER COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL R. CHERRY, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the following 22 motions:

1. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Hanover Community School Corporation [DE 66], filed September 26, 2013;
2. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Carol A. Kaiser [DE 67], filed September 26, 2013;
3. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Justin Biggs [DE 68], filed September 26, 2013;
4. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Mary Joan Dickson [DE 69], filed September 26, 2013;
5. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Julie Mueller [DE 70], filed September 26, 2013;
6. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Pat Kocot [DE 71], filed September 26, 2013;
7. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories as to Dana Griner [DE 72], filed September 26, 2013;
8. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Production of Documents from Defendant Hanover Community School Corporation [DE 73], filed September 26, 2013;
9. Defendants' Motion for Protective Order [DE 84], filed October 23, 2013;
10. Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion for Protective Order and to Admonish Defendants' Counsel to Comply with F.R.C.P. 37(a)(1) and Local Rule 37-1 and to Comply with the Standards for Professional Conduct Within the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit [DE 89], filed October 28, 2013;
11. Motion to Strike Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Motions to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories and Motion to Compel Requests for Production Served on Defendants [DE 96], filed November 7, 2013;
12. Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories as to Tony Hiatt [DE 99], filed November 7, 2013;
13. Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories as to Carol A. Kaiser and Justin Biggs [DE 132], filed December 10, 2013;
14. Motion to Extend Discovery Deadline [DE158], filed January 10, 2014;
15. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Hanover Community School Corporation [DE 161], filed January 10, 2014;
16. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to requests for Admissions as to Justin Biggs [DE 162], filed January 10, 2014;
17. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Mary Joan Dickson [DE 163], filed January 10, 2014;
18. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Julie Mueller [DE 164], filed January 10, 2014;
19. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Pat Kocot [DE 165], filed January 10, 2014;
20. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Dana Griner [DE 166], filed January 10, 2014;
21. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Tony Hiatt [DE 167], filed January 10, 2014;
22. Motion to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions as to Carol A. Kaiser [DE 168], filed January 10, 2014.

The Court has considered all of the motions, briefs, responses, replies, objections, and arguments.

I. General Context

This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Vukadinovich was terminated from his employment as a middle school teacher for Hanover Community School Corporation. The School Corporation defends that, in terminating his employment, it was making a reduction in work force.

Plaintiff Vukadinovich contends in his Complaint that his termination was unlawful in five respects:

1. It was retaliation against him because he obtained a settlement in a lawsuit against his former employer (Hammond School District);
2. It was motivated by age discrimination;
3. It was in violation of his civil rights (Section 1983 claim);
4. He was denied due process of law;
5. It was in breach of his employment contract (pendent state law claim).

II. Motion to Strike Defendants' Response [DE 96]

In his Motion to Strike Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Motions to Compel Non-Evasive and Complete Responses to Interrogatories and Motion to Compel Requests for Production Served on Defendants [DE 96], Plaintiff Vukadinovich asks that the Court strike Defendants' response because it exceeds the 25-page limit set by Local Rule 7-1. Defendants did not file a response to this Motion.

Parties do not have a right to insist that other parties strictly comply with a court's local rules. Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 887 (7th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff Vukadinovich has also filed a brief in this case exceeding the page limit. The Defendants filed a similar motion to strike that brief, but later withdrew it.

This Motion [DE 96] is DENIED.

III. Conferral Certification

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(1) requires that motions brought under Rule 37 "must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). An ongoing dispute in this case is whether email correspondence can suffice as a conference. Defendants' counsel will communicate with Plaintiff Vukadinovich only by email. Vukadinovich prefers that they communicate by telephone. Defendants' counsel is wary that communicating by telephone may result in Vukadinovich falsely accusing her of saying things she did not say.

Generally, courts have held that the threshold for what counts as a conference is rather low. See, e.g., Kidwiler v. Progressive Paloverde Ins. Co., 192 F.R.D. 193 (N.D. W.Va. 2000) (holding a single correspondence was sufficient under the totality of the circumstances); Alloc, Inc. v. Unilin Beheer B.V., 03-C-1266, 2006 WL 757871 (E.D. Wis. Mar. 24, 2006) (multiple letters were sufficient). Other courts have held the bar somewhat higher. For example, in Shuffle Master, Inc. v. Progressive Games, Inc., a Nevada district court explained that Rule 37(a)(1) "requires a party to have had or attempted to have had an actual meeting or conference." 170 F.R.D. 166, 171 (D. Nev. 1966). That court, however, did not exclude doing so by written communication. What matters is that "a moving party must personally engage in two-way communication with the non-moving party to meaningfully discuss each contested discovery dispute in a genuine effort to avoid judicial intervention." Id. Wright's Federal Practice And Procedure likewise emphasizes the efforts at communication, not the method of the conference. 8A Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure Civ. ยง 2285 (3d ed. 2013).

In this district, moreover, many cases have held email communication to be sufficient. See, e.g., Forest River Hous., Inc. v. Patriot Homes, Inc., 3:06-CV-841-AS, 2007 WL 1376289 (N.D. Ind. May 7, 2007); In Re FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 3:05-MD-527 RM, 2007 WL 79312 (N.D. Ind. Jan. 5, 2007); The Hartford v. Schindler Elevator Corp., 1:09-CV-132, 2010 WL 5463293 (N.D. Ind. Dec. 29, 2010). This Court thus finds that a Rule 37 conference can be accomplished by a face-to-face meeting, a telephone conversation, or written communication (including email). What matters is that there is a true-back-and-forth dialogue. Under the circumstances of this case, the Court ORDERS Defendants' counsel and Plaintiff Vukadinovich to make all Rule 37(a)(1) and Local Rule 37-1 conferrals by back-and-forth email or other written communication.

IV. Motion to Strike Motion for Protective Order [DE 89]

Plaintiff Vukadinovich filed a Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion for Protective Order and to Admonish Defendants' Counsel to Comply with F.R.C.P. 37(a)(1) and Local Rule 37-1 and to Comply with the Standards for Professional Conduct Within the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit [DE 89]. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1) provides that "the motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). For the same reasons discussed in the section immediately above, this Motion [DE 89] is DENIED.

The Court does note, however, that both sides resort to calling each other names and including snarky comments in their filings. The Court ADMONISHES both Plaintiff and Defendants (and their attorneys) to adopt a more civil tone.

V. Motion for Protective Order [DE 84]

Defendants filed a Defendants' Motion For Protective Order [DE 84]. In addition to his interrogatories and requests for admissions, Plaintiff Vukadinovich has also used Indiana's Access to Public Records Act (APRA), Ind. Code 5-14-3-1, et seq., to obtain thousands of documents from Defendant Hanover Community School Corporation.[1]

In this Motion, Defendants ask for two measures of relief. First, they ask that they not be required to respond to future duplicative discovery requests. Second, they ask that they not be required to respond to future discovery requests seeking documents Defendants have already ...


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.