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D.O.H. v. Lake Central School Corp.

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

December 8, 2014

D.O.H., a minor, by OSAMA HADDAD and HIND HADDAD, individually, and as his parents and natural guardians, Plaintiffs,
v.
LAKE CENTRAL SCHOOL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANDREW P. RODOVICH, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the court on the Motion to Quash Subpoena [DE 64] filed by nonparty, Town of St. John Police Department, Lake County, Indiana, on October 27, 2014. For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED.

Background

The plaintiff, David Haddad, alleges that he was physically assaulted at Lake Central High School in November 2011 by a member of a group of bullies. Haddad claims that the bullies harassed, taunted, and threatened him for over a year, nearly every day. Additionally, Haddad states that the defendants were aware of the incidents because Haddad and his parents reported the incidents to the defendants. Furthermore, he claims that the Dyer and St. John police departments informed Lake Central High School about conflicts between Haddad and other students.

Following the alleged physical assault, Haddad brought the instant lawsuit, which includes: Count I - State Law Negligence; Count II - Equal Protection; Count III - Procedural Due Process Deprivation; Count IV - Civil Rights Violation; Count V - Substantive Due Process Violation; and Count VI - State Law Respondeat Superior. On October 13, 2014, Haddad issued a subpoena to non-party, Town of St. John Police Department. The subpoena included four separate requests:

(1) All Documents relating to the November 8, 2011 incident involving Kristopher Martin and David Haddad at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana. This request includes but is not limited to the complete file(s) regarding the investigation into the November 8, 2011 incident, all documents relating to the arrest and criminal prosecution of Kristopher Martin in connection with the November 8, 2011 incident; and all communications with (i) Lake Central High School, (ii) the Lake County Prosecutor's Office, and (iii) news media relating to the November 8, 2011 incident and subsequent arrest and criminal prosecution of Kristopher Martin.
(2) All St. John Police Department policies, general orders, special orders, directives, rules, and regulations in effect between January 2007 and January 2012 relating to the obligations of the Department to communicate with/or relay information to Lake Central School Corporation when the Department (i) receives a report concerning a Lake Central School Corporation student, (ii) investigates an incident involving a Lake Central School Corporation student, (iii) interviews and/or interrogates a Lake Central School Corporation student, and (iv) arrests a Lake Central School Corporation student. To the extent there are separate policies, general orders, special orders, directives, rules, and regulations governing the Department's relationship with Lake Central School Corporation and Lake Central High School, this request seeks all policies, general orders, special orders, directives, rules, and regulations concerning both entities.
(3) All Documents relating to Kristopher Martin (DOB 6/7/1993) prior to November 8, 2011.
(4) All Documents reflecting communications with Lake Central High School concerning a Lake Central High School student between January 2007 and January 2012, including but not limited to communications concerning (i) investigation(s) involving a Lake Central High School student and (ii) arrest(s) of a Lake Central High School student.

The Department's motion objects to requests (2) and (4). The Department objects to request (2) because it is unduly burdensome, if any responsive documents exist, the named defendants would possess them, and the requested evidence is irrelevant to Haddad's claims. It objects to request (4) because it is vague and lacks specificity, is unduly burdensome, is irrelevant to Haddad's claims, and the requested information may be disclosed at the Department's discretion pursuant to Ind. Code ยง 5-14-3-4(a)-(b), unless ordered by a court.

Haddad's response indicates a willingness to limit request (2) to only those "communications regarding allegations of or incidents involving (i) bullying, (ii) harassment, and (iii) assaults." [DE 66-2]. Haddad issued a subpoena with identical requests to the Dyer, Indiana Police Department on the same day he served the St. John Police Department. The Dyer Police Department complied with the subpoena and produced approximately 100 pages of responsive documents.

Discussion

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(iii)-(iv) provides that "[o]n timely motion, the court for the district where compliance is required must quash or modify a subpoena that:... (iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected material, if no exception or waiver applies; or (iv) subjects a person to undue burden." Furthermore, "the party seeking to quash a subpoena under Rule 45(c)(3)(A) has the burden of demonstrating that the information sought is privileged or subjects a person to an undue burden." Hodgdon v. Northwestern Uni., 245 F.R.D. 337, 341 (N.D.Ill. 2007). However, implicit in the rule is the requirement that a subpoena seek relevant information. See Stock v. Integrated Health Plan, Inc., 241 F.R.D. 618, 621-22 (S.D. Ill. 2007); Syposs v. United States, 181 F.R.D. 224, 226 (W.D.N.Y. 1998) ("The reach of a subpoena issued pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 is subject to the general relevancy standard applicable to discovery under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)."). Relevancy under this rule is construed broadly to encompass "any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter[s] that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Chavez v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 206 F.R.D. 615, 619 (S.D. Ind. 2002) (quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351, 98 S.Ct. 2380, 2389, 57 L.Ed.2d 253 (1978)). Even when information is not directly related to the claims or defenses identified in the pleadings, the information still may be relevant to the broader subject matter at hand and meet the rule's good cause standard. Sanyo Laser Prods., Inc. v. Arista Records, Inc., 214 F.R.D. 496, 502 (S.D. Ind. 2003).

"In the context of third party discovery, courts should be especially careful in protecting the parties from excessive or oppressive discovery." Moore v. PlasmaCare, Inc., 2012 WL 602623, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb.23, 2012); see Charles v. Quality Carriers, Inc., 2010 WL 396356, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Jan.28, 2010). "Non-parties have a different set of expectations. Accordingly, concern for the unwanted burden thrust upon non-parties is a factor entitled to special weight in evaluating the balance of competing needs." Charles, 2010 WL 396356 at *1 (quoting Cusumano v. Microsoft Corp., 162 F.3d 708, 717 (1st Cir. 1998)). When determining whether to enforce a discovery request, the court must weigh the need for the information, the breadth of the request, the time period the discovery covers, the particularity of the documents, and the burden imposed. Charles, ...


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