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Leser v. Indianapolis Public Schools

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 13, 2019

DEBORAH L LESER, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS FOR THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, MARY ANN SULLIVAN, Individually and in her Official Capacity, SAM ODLE, Individually and in his Official Capacity, LANIER ECHOLS, Individually and in her Official Capacity, MICHAEL O'CONNOR, Individually and in his Official Capacity, GAYLE COSBY, Individually and in her Official Capacity, KELLY BENTLEY, Individually and in her Official Capacity, DIANE ARNOLD, Individually and in her Official Capacity, LEWIS D. FEREBEE, Individually and in his Official Capacity, LE BOLER, Individually and in her Official Capacity, WANDA LEGRAND, Individually and in her Official Capacity, LELA TINA HESTER, Individually and in her Official Capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Doris L. Pryor United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on the Defendant Indianapolis Public Schools' Motion to Compel and Request for Attorney Fees (Dkt. 214)[1]. The motion was referred to the Undersigned for ruling and, for the reasons that follow, is hereby GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Background

         For the purposes of this Order, the Court assumes familiarity with the underlying facts of this case. On April 24, 2019, the parties participated in a telephonic status conference with the Undersigned. During this call, the Plaintiff expressed concerns that the Defendants were improperly designating certain documents as confidential, and the Defendants expressed concerns that the Plaintiff was improperly withholding certain documents from production. With the discovery deadline fast approaching, the Court discussed an expedited briefing schedule for the parties' imminent motions to compel. The Plaintiff and Defendant[2] filed their respective Motions to Compel on April 26, 2019, their responses on May 1, 2019, and their replies on May 3, 2019.

         In the Defendant's instant Motion to Compel, it requests that the Court compel the Plaintiff to produce certain information and documents. Defendant IPS also requests its reasonable attorneys' fees for having to pursue this motion. The Plaintiff's Motion to Compel was discussed in a separate order. [Dkt. 228.]

         II. Legal Standard

         In discovery, parties are generally entitled to “obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Privileged matter, however, may be withheld. S.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1; Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(5)(A). If a party believes that material has been improperly withheld, the party may move for the Court to compel production. Id.

         The party opposing a motion to compel has the burden to show the discovery requests are improper and to explain precisely why its objections are proper given the broad and liberal construction of the federal discovery rules. In re Aircrash Disaster Near Roselawn, Inc. Oct. 31, 1994, 172 F.R.D. 295, 307 (N.D. Ill. 1997); Cunningham v. Smithkline Beecham, 255 F.R.D 474, 478 (N.D. Ind. 2009).

         General objections to discovery requests that merely recite boilerplate language without explanation do not meet this burden, and courts within the Seventh Circuit consistently overrule them or entirely disregard such objections. See Novelty, Inc. v. Mountain View Mktg., Inc., 265 F.R.D. 370, 375 (S.D. Ind. 2009) (“‘general objections' made without elaboration, whether placed in a separate section or repeated by rote in response to each requested category, are not ‘objections' at all-and will not be considered”); Burkybile v. Mitsubishi Motors Corp., 2006 WL 2325506, at *9 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (overruling boilerplate objections made generally and without elaboration).

         III. Discussion

         The Defendant submitted the following discovery requests to the Plaintiff on January 23, 2019:

INTERROGATORY NO. 1: Did Leser (including Leser's counsel or any agent thereof) communicate in any way with an employee, agent or representative of any print, television, radio, or online media concerning any of the matters alleged in ther [sic] lawsuit, the termination of Leser's employment with IPS, or all proceedings related thereto? If so, please:
• identify who communicated the information;
• provide a detailed description of what was ...

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