United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO COMPEL [Doc. #40]
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is a motion by plaintiff Christopher Burns
(“plaintiff”) seeking to compel the production of
unredacted copies of a criminal investigation report. [Doc.
#40]. Defendants have filed a memorandum in opposition to
plaintiff's motion to compel, [Doc. #44], to which
plaintiff has filed a reply, [Doc. #46]. For the reasons
articulated below, plaintiff's motion to compel [Doc.
#40] is DENIED, without prejudice to
Court presumes general familiarity with the background of
this matter, which is set forth in the parties' briefing
and Judge Janet C. Hall's October 30, 2019, Ruling on
Motion to Dismiss. See Doc. #48. However, the Court will
briefly address the procedural and factual background as
relevant to the pending motion to compel.
to Judge Hall's Standing Order Relating to Discovery
[Doc. #5], on September 9, 2019, counsel for plaintiff faxed
a letter to Judge Hall's chambers asserting that
defendants had failed to produce documents responsive to the
Court's Initial Discovery Protocols [Doc. #6]. Plaintiff
asserts that defendants failed to produce all
“[d]ocuments concerning investigation(s) of any
complaint(s) about the plaintiff or made by the plaintiff, if
relevant to the plaintiff's factual allegations or claims
at issue in this lawsuit and not otherwise privileged.”
Doc. #40 at 1. At that time, plaintiff specifically sought
the production of documents related to a criminal
investigation into steroid use and distribution, in which
plaintiff was implicated. On September 10, 2019, Judge Hall
referred the discovery dispute to the undersigned. [Doc.
Court held a telephonic status conference on October 8, 2019,
to address the issues raised by plaintiff's September 9,
2019, letter to Judge Hall. See Docs. #37, #39, #47. During
that call, counsel for plaintiff reported that he had
received the documents related to the steroid investigation,
but that the documents were heavily redacted. See Doc. #47,
Transcript of October 8, 2019, Status Conference at 4:8-5:3.
During the call with the Court, counsel for plaintiff
confirmed that he now seeks an unredacted version of the
documents produced, namely the “police report regarding
a criminal investigation of which [plaintiff] is one of the
targets.” Id. at 9:2-7; see also Id.
at 5:4-18. Counsel for defendants asserted that the documents
had been redacted on grounds of “[p]rivacy and
security[.]” Id. at 6:13. At the conclusion of
the call, the Court ordered the parties to submit additional
briefing regarding the basis for the redactions. See
Id. at 7:18-20. The Court then entered an Order
requiring that plaintiff file a motion to compel on or before
October 15, 2019, and that defendants file a response by
October 22, 2019. See Doc. #38. The parties have timely
complied with that Order. See Docs. #40, #44.
26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth
the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:
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. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “[T]he burden of
demonstrating relevance remains on the party seeking
discovery.” Bagley v. Yale Univ., 315 F.R.D.
131, 144 (D. Conn. 2016) (citation omitted), as
amended (June 15, 2016); Republic of Turkey v.
Christie's, Inc., 326 F.R.D. 394, 400 (S.D.N.Y.
2018) (same). Once the party seeking discovery has
demonstrated relevance, the burden then shifts to
“[t]he party resisting discovery ... [to] show why
discovery should be denied.” Cole v. Towers Perrin
Forster & Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009)
turning to the substance of the parties' arguments, the
Court first addresses two preliminary issues.
plaintiff dedicates a considerable amount of his briefing to
defendants' alleged discovery abuses. See Doc. #40-1 at
3-4, Doc. #46 at 3-4. Although the Court does not take such
allegations lightly, this aspect of plaintiff's briefing
detracts from the substance of his argument concerning the
redactions specifically at issue. Regardless, the Court
expects all parties, and their counsel, to comply with their
respective discovery obligations, and with the Local and
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Unless and until a motion
for sanctions is filed, which the Court certainly does ...