HURT et al v. VANTLIN et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 174 Motion to Compel Certain "Post-Incident" Discovery from Defendant City of Evansville. (SEE ORDER) Signed by Magistrate Judge Matthew P. Brookman on 6/6/2016. (NRN)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
CITY OF EVANSVILLE,
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs (“the Hurts”) Motion to Compel Certain
“Post-Incident” Discovery from Defendant City of Evansville, filed on March 28, 2016. (Docket
No. 174; Docket No. 175). Defendant, City of Evansville, filed a response to the motion on April
11, 2016. (Docket No. 187). Plaintiffs filed a reply on April 13, 2016. (Docket No. 189). Because
this Motion to Compel and certain corresponding exhibits are being maintained under seal, the
Court will simply incorporate those facts by reference herein and only detail specific facts as
necessary to address the parties’ arguments.
On March 8, 2016, counsel for all parties participated in a conference with the Court,
which included, among other topics, the discovery disputes at issue in the present Motion to
Compel. (Docket No. 166; Docket No. 207 at 3; Docket No. 209 at 3). At that time, the Court
indicated it would be inclined to deny the Hurts’ Motion to Compel if the Hurts chose to file it.
As outlined above, Hurts did file the Motion to Compel. The Court denied the Motion to Compel
on April 19, 2016, in whole. (Docket No. 193). This Order was appealed to the Honorable Jane
Magnus-Stinson, District Judge, and on May 25, 2016, Judge Stinson remanded the matter for
further findings and to elaborate the basis for the decision, such that the Court could apply the
requisite standard of review should Plaintiffs renew their objection. (Docket No. 210).
The Hurts’ Motion to Compel requests that this Court order the City of Evansville to
answer Plaintiffs’ First Set of Requests for Production No. 31, Plaintiffs’ First Set of Requests to
Admit Nos. 9 & 10, Plaintiffs’ Third Set of Interrogatories Nos. 5, 6, and 7, and to re-present
Detective Brian Turpin for a limited-purpose deposition. For the reasons that follow, the Hurts’
Motion to Compel is now GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
In the event that parties cannot informally resolve a discovery dispute, Rule 37 provides a
vehicle for the aggrieved party to request an order from the Court compelling discovery. See
Chavez v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 206 F.R.D. 615, 619 (S.D. Ind. 2002). District courts have
broad discretion in matters relating to discovery. See Patterson v. Avery Dennison Corp., 281
F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Packman v. Chicago Tribune Co., 267 F.3d 628, 646-47
(7th Cir. 2001)). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) sets the standard for the scope of
general discovery, providing that “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not
privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party . . . For good cause, the court may
order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action.” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 26(b)(1). Discovery is relevant if it appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
admissible evidence. Id.
The Hurts’ first request that the City of Evansville be compelled to answer Plaintiffs’
First Set of Requests for Production No. 31 and Plaintiffs’ First Set of Requests to Admit Nos. 9
& 10 (Docket No. 176-D). Defendant objected on relevance grounds. The Hurts assert that they
“wish to establish whether the [2014 drug investigation into Deadra Hurt] was a formal, EPDendorsed investigation . . .”—which they conclude is relevant for Plaintiffs’ malicious
prosecution and Monell claims, as well as impeachment materials. (Docket No. 176 at 6). As to
the malicious prosecution claim, subsequent acts can be probative as to prior intent. United
States v. Anifowoshe, 307 F.3d 643, 646-47 (7th Cir. 2002). However, subsequent acts still must
meet the requirements of Rule 26(b)(1) as being relevant or reasonably likely to lead to relevant
information. In the cases cited in the Hurts’ memorandum, the subsequent acts were either
similar or related to the initial alleged misconduct. Here, the Court finds that the 2014 drug
investigation into Deadra Hurt is unrelated to the Golike homicide investigation underlying the
malicious prosecution. Therefore, whether any defendant involved in the 2014 investigation had
any motive or intent to initiate that investigation is irrelevant to establish the requisite malice for
the prosecutions underlying the malicious prosecution claim. Fed. Rule Civ. P. Rule 26(b)(1).
In Monell v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978), the Supreme Court
held that municipalities and other local governments may be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for any deprivation of constitutional rights caused by an official policy or practice. A plaintiff
must show that the municipal policy or custom and usage proximately caused the alleged
unconstitutional conduct, which usually requires more than a single incident of unconstitutional
conduct. Powe v. City of Chicago, 664 F.2d 639, 650 (7th Cir. 1981). Moreover, subsequent
conduct usually cannot be used to establish municipal liability. Calusinski v. Kruger, 24 F.3d
931, 936 (7th Cir. 1994). Here, the Court finds that the 2014 drug investigation into Deadra Hurt
is unrelated to the Plaintiffs’ Monell claim and, specifically, is unrelated to the municipal policy
or custom regarding interrogation methods, police reports, and arrests and detentions, which
Hurts allege proximately caused their deprivation of constitutional rights. Lastly, as to the
“potential” impeachment value of the 2014 drug investigation, the Hurts have not provided any
argument or authority as to how they would use the 2014 drug investigation to impeach any
defendant, therefore, the Court is not persuaded by this “potential” use. Thus, Plaintiffs’ Motion
to Compel with respect to the First Set of Requests for Production No. 31 and Plaintiffs’ First Set
of Requests to Admit Nos. 9 & 10 is DENIED.
Next, the Hurts request the City of Evansville be compelled to answer Plaintiffs’ Third
Set of Interrogatories Nos. 5, 6, and 7 (Docket No. 176-B). Defendant again objected on
relevance grounds. The Hurts assert that these interrogatories are relevant to establishing the
malice element of their malicious prosecution claim, to their claim for punitive damages, and to
their Monell claim against the City of Evansville. Because the Court finds that these
interrogatories are relevant to the Hurts’ malicious prosecution claim, it will not outline whether
the evidence is relevant, and potentially admissible, as to the Hurts’ other purported purposes.
To state a malicious prosecution claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate in part
that he satisfied the elements of a state law cause of action for malicious prosecution, which in
Indiana requires a showing that the defendant acted with malicious intent. Welton v. Anderson,
770 F.3d 670, 674 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Golden Years Homestead, Inc. v. Buckland, 557 F.3d
457, 462 (7th Cir. 2009)). Malice can be established by evidence of personal animosity. Id. Fed.
Rule of Evid. 404(b) provides that evidence of another act may be admissible for the purpose of
proving motive or intent. Relevancy of discovery requests cannot be determined by reviewing a
mere chronology of the potential evidence, instead the critical question is whether the evidence is
“sufficiently probative of a matter.” United States v. Anifowoshe, 307 F.3d at 646-47. Here,
Plaintiffs have referenced evidence that a May to August 2013 investigation was terminated by
Defendant Vantlin due to the suspect assisting with the Golike homicide investigation—an
incident for which the last Plaintiff was acquitted of just a few months prior. The Court finds
that, given the case law regarding subsequent acts applicability to prior malice, that the
referenced interrogatories will yield relevant evidence or information that is reasonably
calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 26(b).
Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel as to Plaintiffs’ Third Set of Interrogatories Nos. 5, 6,
& 7 is GRANTED. The City of Evansville has thirty (30) days from the date of this Order to
Finally, the Hurts request that Detective Brian Turpin be re-presented for a limitedpurpose deposition (Docket No. 174 at 3). The Hurts indicate that they noticed the deposition of
Detective Turpin, who oversaw the investigation referenced in Plaintiffs’ Third Set of
Interrogatories Nos. 5, 6, and 7 to determine what role Defendant Vantlin played in the decisions
made during that investigation and whether the Evansville Police Department authorized and
approved Vantlin’s decision in the same. (Docket No. 176 at 5). In other words, the Hurts
attempted to obtain the same information as the aforesaid interrogatories. The City of Evansville
objected to the bulk of the questions on grounds of relevance. (Docket No. 176 at 6). Because the
limited-purpose deposition is likely to reveal the same evidence as the Plaintiffs’ Third Set of
Interrogatories Nos. 5, 6 & 7, which the Court has compelled the City of Evansville answer, the
Court DENIES Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel as to Plaintiffs’ request to re-present Detective
Turpin for a limited-purpose deposition with leave to refile this request, if necessary, upon
receipt of the City of Evansville’s answers to these interrogatories.
Served electronically on all ECF-registered counsel of record.
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