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Watson v. Boyd

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

April 5, 2019

FRED WATSON, Plaintiff,
v.
EDDIE BOYD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Fred Watson's Motion to Compel (ECF No. 54), Plaintiff Fred Watson's Motion for Protective Order or, In the Alternative, Motion to Compel (ECF No. 56), Defendant City of Ferguson, Missouri's Motion to Bifurcate Claims and to Stay Discovery and Trial (ECF No. 65), Defendant Eddie Boyd's Motion to Join In and Adopt Defendant City of Ferguson's Motion to Bifurcate Claims and to Stay Discovery and Trial (ECF No. 71), Plaintiffs Motion to Quash Subpoena (ECF No. 81), Plaintiffs Motion to Compel Discovery of Previously Taken Depositions (ECF No. 87), and Plaintiffs Motion to Deem Admitted Plaintiffs Request for Admissions Directed to Defendant City of Ferguson (ECF No. 89).

         BACKGROUND

         On August 1, 2012, Plaintiff Fred Watson ("Watson") was sitting in his car after a basketball game at Forestwood Park. Watson alleges that Defendant Eddie Boyd ("Boyd"), an on-duty Ferguson Police Department ("FPD") officer, aggressively accosted Watson. Watson claims that when he asked Boyd for the grounds for this harassment, Boyd retaliated against him by writing nine frivolous tickets against Watson, including a False Declaration/False Reports and Failure to Comply ticket. Watson asserts that Boyd acted pursuant to a FPD custom of unconstitutional policing to generate revenue for the City of Ferguson. Watson filed this lawsuit alleging a variety of claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983, including unlawful search and seizure, unlawful retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, and malicious prosecution against Boyd, as well as a Monell claim against the City of Ferguson, based upon his arrest and the citations issued by Boyd on August 1, 2012.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Discovery from Defendant Boyd

         A. Legal Standard

         Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery. See Fed. R Civ. P. 37 (a)(1) ("On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery."). Likewise, Rule 26 governs the scope of discovery in federal matters:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: 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, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         Fed.RCiv.P. 26(b)(1).

         B. Internal Affairs and Personnel Files

         "[A] plaintiff alleging police misconduct and a municipal policy condoning such alleged misconduct is generally entitled to discovery of the internal affairs investigations conducted regarding the incident complained." D.B. v. St. Charles Cty., No. 4:12-CV-654-JAR, 2013 WL 4042215, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 8, 2013) (citing Rohrbough v. Hall, No. 4:07-cv-00996-ERW (Doc. No. 43) (E.D. Mo. Sept. 18, 2008)). Courts, however, have held that broad requests for all internal affairs documents for several years are overly broad and not reasonably calculated to lead to discoverable, admissible evidence. D.B. v. St. Charles Cty., No. 4:12-CV-654-JAR, 2013 WL 4042215, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 8, 2013); Rohrbough v. Hall, No. 4:O7-cv-00996-ERW (Doc. No. 43) (E.D. Mo. Sept. 18, 2008).

         Watson asserts Boyd should produce his entire Ferguson, St. Ann, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department ("SLMPD") personnel files in his possession, allowing for the redaction of his medical or financial information. (ECF No. 55 at 9). Watson claims that the personnel files are relevant to his case to "establish a pattern of misconduct similar to what is alleged in Plaintiff [sic] complaint; the files will allow Plaintiff to determine whether Boyd provided truthful testimony about his departure from the St. Louis and St. Ann police departments; and they are highly relevant to Plaintiffs claims that City of Ferguson failed to screen, supervise, and discipline Officer Boyd." (ECF No. 55 at 9). Watson claims "Defendant Boyd's counsel is already in possession of all of his personnel records minimizing any burden created by production." (ECF No. 55 at 9).[1] Watson asserts that the Boyd has failed to produce certain personnel documents, requiring this Motion to compel. (ECF No. 55 at 10).

         The Court hereby orders Boyd to produce his personnel files, redacted for medical, financial, or other sensitive information, to the extent that they are in Boyd's possession. Boyd shall produce a privilege/confidentiality log for any documents not produced. If Boyd has previously produced all of his personnel documents, then he shall so state to Watson.

         C. Deposition Transcript from a Former Federal Lawsuit

Watson seeks the deposition transcript of then-head of SLMPD Internal Affairs, John Hayden, from C.I.D. v. Boyd, 4:08cv788 (Mo. E.D.) Watson asserts C.I.D. v. Boyd "involved an allegation that Defendant Boyd assaulted a juvenile and falsified the police report in an attempt to charge the juvenile he assaulted with a crime." (ECF No. 55 at 11). According to a court filing, Hayden testified in his deposition he "recommended that [the SLMPD Internal Affairs complaint] against Boyd be sustained in that Boyd issued a false report and Boyd violated the department's policy for abuse of prisoners." C.I.D. v. Boyd, 4:O8cv788 (ECF No. 79-2, at 5, ¶ 12). Watson alleges that Hayden's deposition is "highly relevant to Boyd's habit of filing malicious charges." (ECF No. 55 at 12). Watson argues Hayden's deposition testimony is "in no way burdensome to produce, as Boyd's former counsel still maintains it in his possession." (ECF No. 55 at 13).[2] Boyd contends that the allegations in the instant lawsuit are unrelated to the allegations in C.I.D. v. Boyd and, therefore, Watson's Motion to Compel should be denied.

         In this case, Watson alleges Boyd "unlawfully arrested and initiated charges against Mr. Watson without probable cause and in retaliation for Mr. Watson engaging in protected First Amendment conduct." (ECF No. 35, ¶l). The Court has already ordered Boyd and the City of Ferguson to produce Boyd's internal affairs records. Presumably, these records would include the recommendation of Hayden. The Court holds that ordering the production of the entire deposition transcript is cumulative and overbroad. The Court denies the Motion to Compel Boyd to produce the deposition testimony of John Hayden from C.I.D. v. Boyd, 4:08cv788.

         II. Discovery from City of Ferguson

         A. ...


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