Court Grants Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Adding Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and His Staff as ESI Custodians

15 Dec 2017

Follow our blog for regular updates on electronic discovery trendsIn Mann v. City of Chicago, No: 1:15-cv-09017 Dist. Court (N.D. Ill., 2017), Plaintiffs moved to compel Defendant City of Chicago to include Mayor Rahm Emanuel and ten members of his staff as custodians in the City’s email search.

Plaintiffs sued Chicago police officers and the City of Chicago (“the City”) alleging that Defendants wrongfully arrested, detained, and prosecuted them and that they were abused at the Chicago Police Department’s (“CPD”) ‘off the books’ detention center.

The parties have agreed on search terms and the majority of custodians. The parties also agree that electronic discovery will include the Mayor’s Office, but reached an impasse on which custodians in the Mayor’s Office should be searched. Plaintiffs argue Mayor Emanuel and ten members of his senior staff, including current and former chiefs of staff and communications directors are relevant. The City responds that Plaintiffs’ request is burdensome, and that Plaintiffs have failed to provide any grounds to believe that the proposed custodians were involved with CPD’s policies and practices.

District courts have broad discretion in supervising discovery and ruling on discovery motions. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, the court should consider the importance of the issues at stake, the amount in controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information and their resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit in determining whether to compel production.

Plaintiffs are entitled to discover, among other things, whether the Mayor or his staff made non-public statements or were involved in non-public communications about the off the books detention center. The Court thinks the Mayor and his upper level staff might have responsive emails. The City argues that it will be burdened with the time and expense of searching the email boxes of additional custodians. The City does not offer any specifics or even a rough estimate about the burden. To successfully object, a party must specifically demonstrate how the request is burdensome.

The Court is mindful that every additional custodian increases the risk of duplication of emails and the time and resources necessary to review emails. Therefore, the Court grants in part, Plaintiffs’ motion, adding the custodians listed, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Joe Deal, Kelly Quinn, Lisa Schrader, and Shannon Breymaier as custodians in the City’s email search.

ILS–Plaintiff ESI Discovery Experts