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Horn v. City of New Haven

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 23, 2019

VERNON HORN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW HAVEN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE

          Robert M. Spector United States Magistrate Judge.

         Defendant City of New Haven (“City”) and the plaintiff, Vernon Horn, have sought the Court's assistance in resolving a discovery dispute.[1] The undersigned ordered the parties to submit letter briefs outlining the dispute (see Doc. No. 75), which they filed on May 17, 2019 (see Doc. Nos. 78 and 79). The City objects to six of the plaintiff's production requests, which seek investigation files from six homicide investigations that the City's Police Department conducted in the years 1990, 1991, 1994, 2005, and 2006.[2] (See Doc. No. 78 at 1-2; Doc. No. 79 at 2-3). The undersigned held a discovery dispute teleconference on May 22, 2019, during which the parties provided the Court with further argument. (See Doc. No. 80).

         The City's objections to request numbers 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17 are overruled. This Magistrate Judge concludes that production of the documents sought in these requests could lead to the discovery of evidence that is relevant to the plaintiff's claim under Monell v. Dep't Soc. Servs., 463 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). In his Complaint, the plaintiff establishes a good faith belief that conduct similar to that which he alleges here occurred in the homicide investigations noted in request numbers 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17. (See Compl. ¶¶ 86-96). The parties disputed whether conduct subsequent to the conduct at issue here could be used to establish the City's liability under Monell. (See Doc. No. 78 at 3-4; Doc. No. 79 at 4). The undersigned concludes that, when considered together with the alleged preceding conduct, the subsequent conduct could provide relevant circumstantial evidence of the City's liability under Monell. See Chepilko v. City of New York, No. 06-CV-5491 (ARR)(LB), 2012 WL 398700, at *15 n.11 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 6, 2012) (citing Dejesus v. Vill. of Pelham Manor, 282 F.Supp.2d 162, 175-76 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)).

         The undersigned sustains the City's objection to request number 15. The homicide investigation noted in this request is not detailed in the plaintiff's Complaint or elsewhere. Moreover, the brief description of this case that the plaintiff provides in his letter brief does not compel the Court to conclude that production of this file will likely lead to the discovery of evidence relevant to the plaintiff's Monell claim.

         To the extent that the City seeks greater protection than that offered by the Standing Protective Order that was entered in this case (see Doc. No. 5), it may move for a protective order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c). Furthermore, any claim that the discovery produced is subject to a state statutory privilege shall be made on a document-by-document basis and accompanied by a privilege log. See D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 26(e); see also Johnson v. New Haven, No. 3:17-CV-1479 (JAM), 2018 WL 4253162, at *1 (D. Conn. Sept. 6, 2018) (noting that “[a]ny document-by-document claim of privilege should be made in good faith accounting for the time elapsed since the events and investigations at issue in this case, and must be accompanied by a privilege log.”).

         CONCLUSION

         For the reasons stated above, the City's objections to request numbers 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17 are OVERRULED, and its objection to request number 15 is SUSTAINED.

         This is not a Recommended Ruling. This is an order regarding discovery which is reviewable pursuant to the “clearly erroneous” statutory standard of review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); and D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 72.2. As such, it is an order of the Court unless reversed or modified by the district judge upon timely made objection.

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Notes:

[1] United States District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer referred the parties to this Magistrate Judge to address the discovery dispute. (Doc. Nos. 74 and 75).

[2] Specifically, the City objects to the following requests:

Production Request #12: All police reports, witness statement transcripts, witness interview recordings, and witness interview notes concerning the May 8, 1990 homicide of Terrence Gamble, of which Maceo Streater was later convicted[;]
Production Request #13: All police reports, witness statement transcripts, witness interview recordings, and witness interview notes concerning the October 11, 1990 homicide of Ricardo Turner and Lamont Fields, of ...

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