United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE
Baker United States Magistrate Judge
parties appeared by counsel on September 12, 2019, for a
telephonic status conference to address multiple discovery
disputes. The Court addresses each of the issues below.
request to depose each of the 34 individual Plaintiffs in
this matter in order to challenge their allegations,
consolidated discovery responses, and standing. Defendants
are amenable to conducting the depositions in either Chicago,
where Defendants' counsel is located, or Indianapolis,
Plaintiffs' chosen venue. Plaintiffs object to Defendants
deposing all 34 individuals, noting that many individual
Plaintiffs face hardships due to age and/or disability that
impact their ability to travel. Plaintiffs suggested deposing
three individual Plaintiffs that Plaintiffs' counsel were
aware could travel. The Court found that suggestion woefully
Court orders Defendants to present Plaintiffs' counsel
with a list of 10 individual Plaintiffs they wish to depose.
If Plaintiffs object to any of the individuals selected, they
may obtain a medical certificate to show that
individual's inability to travel or otherwise participate
in a deposition for health reasons. Such individual would
then be removed from the list. Depositions may be scheduled
in either Chicago or Indianapolis, at Plaintiffs'
discretion. After the completion of these depositions,
counsel should confer to address whether additional
depositions may be appropriate. If counsel cannot in good
faith resolve any resulting dispute, they may contact the
Court for a conference with the Magistrate Judge.
Scope of LASPD Representation:
Defendants requested that Plaintiffs produce Plaintiffs'
representation agreements with Chicago Legal Clinic's
Legal Advocates for Seniors and People with Disabilities
(“LASPD”) program. Plaintiffs' complaint
alleges that each of the individual Plaintiffs retained the
services of legal aid attorneys at LASPD regarding
“Defendants' collection actions.” [Filing No.
1, at ECF p. 4.] Defendants request production of LASPD's
representation agreements with the individual Plaintiffs to
examine the scope of representation provided by LASPD.
Plaintiffs declined to produce the agreements, claiming there
is already ample written evidence that LASPD represented each
of the individual plaintiffs. Additionally, Plaintiffs argue
that the agreements are subject to both the attorney-client
and attorney work product privileges.
rely on Serrano v. Van Ru Credit Corp., 126
F.Supp.3d 1005, 1009 (N.D. Ill. 2015). In Serrano,
it was undisputed that defendant, a debt collection agency,
received a fax from LASPD informing them that plaintiff
refused to pay the disputed debt and that the debt collection
agency should cease communications with plaintiff.
Id. It was also undisputed that the defendant debt
collection agency sent plaintiff a collection letter after
receiving that fax. Id. Defendant argued that
plaintiff “was never represented by an attorney within
the meaning of the FDCPA because the wording of the fax
indicated that LASPD only provided ‘limited
representation,' and . . . [p]laintiff did not speak to
an attorney at the organization.” Id. The
Northern District of Illinois found the fax constituted
notice that plaintiff had attorney representation and that
defendant had knowledge of this representation at the time it
sent the collection letter. Id.
while relevant, is not binding on this Court. Moreover, in
the present matter, the scope of representation is not
entirely clear and can easily be addressed by providing
Defendants with redacted copies of the agreements. Thus, the
Court orders Plaintiffs to produce redacted copies of just
the scope of representation section of LASPD's
representation agreements with Defendants. Plaintiffs shall
provide the redacted documents within 21 days of the date of
this order. If Plaintiffs withhold any such agreements (which
should not be necessary in light of the redactions),
Plaintiffs' production shall include a privilege log for
any withheld documents.
the date of conference, one individual Plaintiff, Earnestine
Jones, had failed to provide a verified interrogatory
response. Plaintiffs had no objection to Jones providing
verification for the consolidated interrogatories.
Accordingly, Jones shall provide that verification within 21
days of the date of this order.
also noted that none of the 34 individual Plaintiffs has
provided verifications for supplemental interrogatory
responses. Plaintiffs did not believe additional
verifications were necessary because the supplemental
responses simply clarified original interrogatory responses
but did not substantially change them. Plaintiffs'
position is perhaps understandable, but Defendants are
entitled to at least some minimal verification. Accordingly,
Plaintiffs' counsel shall provide Defendants with a
letter certifying, under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, that the supplemental interrogatory
responses are governed by the original verifications. If
Plaintiffs' counsel is unwilling with making such
certification, then counsel shall provide individual
verifications for all supplemental responses.
asked Plaintiffs to explain the damages calculation that led
all 34 individual Plaintiffs to claim $1, 500 in actual
damages. It is apparent that no mathematical calculation
underlies this figure, but rather it represents an amount
Plaintiffs believe reasonably represents their emotional