United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed an expedited motion under
Civil Local Rule 7(h), seeking to compel responses to certain
of her discovery requests from the “Milwaukee County
Defendants.” (Docket #49). These appear to include
Defendants Milwaukee County, David A. Clarke, Jr., Officer
Brian Wenzel, Carolyn Exum, Morgan Benevue, and Margaret
Hoover (“Defendants”). See (Docket #49-1
at 1). In order to address Plaintiff's motion
expeditiously, the Court assumes familiarity with the facts
and claims in this case.
first complaint is that Defendants are withholding a roster
of other inmates who would have been in the infirmary the
night of her childbirth. Defendants respond that they have
since provided the roster in a supplemental discovery
response. The issue is now moot and Plaintiff's motion
will be denied on this point.
second concern is with the production of documents regarding
the administration of medical care at the Milwaukee County
Jail (the “Jail”). She says that the broad swathe
of documents she seeks is necessary to support her
Monell claim that the Milwaukee County (the
“County”) and Armor Correctional Health Services
(“Armor”) decisionmakers were deliberately
indifferent to the harmful consequences of their healthcare
policies. Defendants counter that her requests are too broad,
as her Monell claim must be linked to the specific
injury she suffered-namely, lack of medical care during
childbirth. To support a Monell claim, Plaintiff
must show that the challenged policies (or lack thereof) were
the “moving force” behind her individual injury.
Dixon v. Cnty. of Cook, 819 F.3d 343, 348 (7th Cir.
issue is far more impactful than the parties' briefing
suggests, and their disagreement rests on their differing
understandings of the Monell claim. From
Plaintiff's perspective, her Monell claim
broadly alleges that the County and Armor were deliberately
indifferent to repeated instances of a complete lack of
medical care for inmates at the Jail. (Docket #1 at 8-12).
The claim is pleaded with little connection to childbirth in
particular. Indeed, only one of the ten instances of lack of
care mentioned in the complaint concerns childbirth. See
Id. Thus, while the facts of Plaintiff's individual
claim do indeed relate to childbirth, the Monell
claim appears to be directed at Defendants' overarching
policy of ignoring inmates in need of care. Viewed in this
way, her document requests, though expansive, are proper, as
the documents could evidence a policy of totally failing to
provide care to inmates, which could, in turn, have been the
moving force behind her deficient care.
take a narrower view of the Monell claim. They
appear to believe that because Plaintiff's individual
claim is about childbirth, the Monell claim should
be limited to that topic. See, e.g., (Docket #51 at
3) (the relevant discovery request “is not limited by
gender or medical issue. It does not relate to maternity or
expressing any view as to the soundness of either party's
interpretation of the Monell claim, in the context
of the present motion the Court is obliged to side with
Plaintiff. Defendants have not sought to dismiss the claim on
the ground that it is overbroad or untethered from
Plaintiff's individual injury. To rule in their favor
here would accomplish precisely that, for without
wide-ranging discovery on the lack of medical care at the
Jail, summary judgment against Plaintiff on her
Monell claim is a foregone conclusion. The scope of
discovery is tied to the state of the pleadings. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) (discovery may be had on any matter
“relevant to any party's claim or defense”).
While Plaintiff's Monell claim remains in its
current form, she is entitled to take discovery as to the
full scope of the claim. The Court is sensitive to what will
likely be an enormous document production on Defendants'
part, but if they wish to avoid litigating the full breadth
of Plaintiff's Monell claim, their only path is
through a dispositive motion.
final contention is that Defendants have refused to
appropriately identify the final policymaker responsible for
various discrete aspects of medical care at the Jail.
See (Docket #49-2 at 8-9). Plaintiff explains that
she needs to know who these people are in order to prove that
they had notice of the failure of their medical care
policies. Defendants respond that it would be inaccurate, and
indeed untruthful, for them to point to a single person as
responsible for any of these areas, because
"[responsibility is shared and often subject to legal
interpretation and dispute." (Docket #51 at 4).
Court disagrees. Contention interrogatories such as this are
perfectly acceptable. See Zenith Elec. Corp. v. WH-TV
Broad. Corp., 395 F.3d 416, 420 (7th Cir. 2005).
Further, logic dictates that someone in the Jail
hierarchy must be ultimately responsible for the policies in
the areas Plaintiff has identified. Whether that causes
consternation and finger-pointing amongst the defendants in
this case is beside the point. Plaintiff is entitled to know
who, in Defendants' opinion, was the final decisionmaker
in the areas specified. Plaintiff's motion will be
granted on this issue.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's expedited
motion to compel discovery responses (Docket #49) be and the
same is hereby GRANTED in part and DENIED ...