United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiffs Timothy Louis Hermann and Karen Elaine Hermann
bring this lawsuit alleging that defendant Dunn County
Sheriff Dennis Smith violated their rights when he removed
them from their home following foreclosure proceedings and
that defendant Dunn County discriminated against them in its
decision to reject their proposed tax foreclosure repurchase
agreement. Defendants have filed a motion to compel
discovery, stating that the Hermanns have provided
incomplete, evasive answers to some of their requests. Dkt.
specifically, the Hermanns responded to several of
defendants' interrogatories asking for the Hermanns'
basis for stating that defendant Smith falsely arrested
Timothy and used excessive force, by referring defendants
“to the case file and Amended Complaint.”
See Dkt. 58-3. They responded in a similar way in
response to interrogatories asking them to identify the
policies or procedures they believe caused Dunn County to
discriminate against them. Finally, in response to defendants
requests for production of documents, the Hermanns stated,
“Please refer to all documents in the case file
including all the documents the defendants and the law firm
have and the information submitted in this
say that they wrote to the Hermanns on December 27, 2017,
explaining the deficiencies with their responses. The
Hermanns say they did not receive that letter, but now they
contend that their responses were appropriate anyway. They
say that “[t]he defense attorneys have access to the
case file and the amended complaint. It is not the
Plaintiff's responsibility to be a reference
librarian/clerk to the case file.” Dkt. 60, at 2. They
also say that they “are not bound just by Rules 33
& 34 but also to equity, Constitutional, and God's
law/Natural law.” Dkt. 60, at 2. They do not explain
why any of these sources of law would allow them to stonewall
defendants on their reasonable discovery requests, other than
to reiterate that defendants should refer to the “case
file” and the amended complaint.
Hermanns misunderstand their burden in the discovery phase of
this litigation. After plaintiffs file a lawsuit, they must
explain to the defendants in detail why they believe that
defendants have violated their rights, and provide access to
documents they intend to use to prove those violations.
Blanket references to the case file or amended complaint are
not close to sufficient, particularly here, where the
documents that have been filed thus far, including the
amended complaint, do not explain in detail exactly why the
Hermanns believe that defendants violated their rights. The
Hermanns need to answer defendants' questions aimed at
understanding the Hermanns' version of events surrounding
their eviction by defendant Smith, and their theory for why
the county turned down their bid to buy the property back.
They also need to share the documents they will use to
support their case.
grant defendants' motion to compel and give the Hermanns
a short time to provide more complete, detailed answers to
the interrogatories and requests for production of documents.
The Hermanns are indeed bound by Rules 33 and 34 as well as
the rest of the discovery rules. In particular, they need to
answer the interrogatories under oath. And even if some of
the records supporting their case are already in the court
record, they need to explain to defendants which of those
documents answer each numbered request, rather than just
citing generally to the case file.
move for attorney fees spent on litigating the motion.
Because I cannot confirm on the record currently before me
whether the Hermanns actually received the December 27
letter, and because the Hermanns are litigating this case pro
se, I will deny this request for fees. But if the Hermanns
continue to drag their feet in responding to these requests
and defendants are forced to file another motion, I will
award fees to defendants.
Hermanns also object to defendants amending their answer to
allege that Dunn County is not a municipal corporation under
Wisconsin law. I gave the Hermanns a chance to amend their
complaint even after defendants filed a motion to dismiss it,
and it would be unfair to deny defendants an opportunity to
make a revision of their own pleading. So I will deny the
Hermanns' request that I strike the amended answer.
the Hermanns ask for an order to compel settlement of this
case. Perhaps the parties will see an opening for productive
discussions once the Hermanns provide defendants with more
information about their version of the events at issue. But I
cannot force the parties to settle the case.
Defendants' motion to compel discovery, Dkt. 56, is
GRANTED. Plaintiffs Timothy Louis Hermann and Karen Elaine
Hermann may have until March 27, 2018, to file responses to
defendants' discovery requests that comply with the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiffs' motion to strike defendants' amended
answer, Dkt. 65, is DENIED.
Plaintiffs' motion for an order forcing the parties to