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White v. Feaman

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

February 15, 2019

JAMAL WHITE, Plaintiff,
ADAM FEAMAN, in his individual capacity, Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of non-party Movant Craig Higgins to quash Plaintiff's subpoena seeking Movant's deposition testimony, filed on February 11, 2019 (Doc. 54). Plaintiff responded to the Motion on February 12, 2019 (Doc. 55), and Movant replied on February 13, 2019 (Doc. 58). Therefore, the Motion is ready for disposition. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1) (Doc. 12). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Quash Subpoena to Craig Higgins is DENIED.

         I. Background

         On April 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant based on the use of excessive force (Doc. 1).[1] Defendant, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer, sought to place Plaintiff under arrest on August 4, 2017 (Id. ¶ 7). Plaintiff alleges he did not have a firearm or present any physical threat to Defendant (Id. ¶ 10). Plaintiff further alleges Defendant became enraged at Plaintiff, and while Plaintiff was moving backwards, Defendant used his flashlight to strike Plaintiff, cracking Plaintiff's jaw (Id. ¶¶ 12-13). In addition, Plaintiff alleges Defendant further bullied him and struck him again in the cranium while he was on the ground (Id. ¶ 14). Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that after suit was filed, Defendant found Plaintiff in a local establishment, identified himself as a police officer, and threatened to “crack the Plaintiff's jaw again” until Defendant was escorted out of the establishment (Id. ¶ 16-17).

         Plaintiff seeks third-party discovery, including the deposition of Movant (see Doc. 55). Movant filed this motion to quash, arguing the following: (1) the subpoena was not properly served; (2) Movant's testimony is irrelevant to the claims of this lawsuit; (3) Plaintiff's counsel seeks Movant's deposition as pretext for early discovery in another federal case pending in the Eastern District of Missouri; and (4) to the extent Plaintiff seeks information regarding the Movant's duties and discretion as a municipal prosecutor, such information is protected under the doctrine of prosecutorial immunity (Doc. 54).[2]


         A. Compliance with Local Rules

         As an initial matter, as Plaintiff notes and the Court agrees, Movant failed to comply with the Local Rules of this Court. First, Local Rule 37 - 3.04, which specifically references motions to quash depositions, mandates that Movant's counsel include a statement in any motion relating to discovery and disclosure that Movant's counsel has conferred in person or by telephone with counsel in good faith; the statement must also recite specific information regarding those discussions or efforts. See E.D. Mo. L.R. 37 - 3.04(A). Not only does Movant fail to include the required statement in his Motion (see Doc. 54), but Movant concedes no efforts to confer were made (Doc. 58 at 2).[3] Therefore, the Court need not consider this Motion. See E.D. Mo. L.R. 37 -3.04(A). Second, Local Rules mandate that a movant must file a memorandum in support of the motion. See E.D. Mo. L.R. 7 - 4.01. Movant's Motion largely amounts to a speaking motion, with little case law on some arguments and no case law on others (See Doc. 54). The Motion could be denied summarily on these bases alone. However, in the interests of justice and moving this case forward, the Court will address the substance of the arguments.

         B. Merits

         The scope of discovery for actions filed in federal court are set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1). That rule provides in relevant part:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case . . . . Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Among the factors for the Court to consider include the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the parties' relative access to information, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues. Id. In addition, Rule 45 states the Court is not required to quash a subpoena unless it:

(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits ...

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