United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
STEPHEN E. ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
ANTHONY MELI and KEITH IMMERFALL, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Stephen E. Alexander, an inmate incarcerated at the
Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI), is proceeding on First
Amendment retaliation and Fourteenth Amendment equal
protection claims against defendants Anthony Meli and Keith
Immerfall, WCI officials. Alexander alleges that defendants
reclassified Alexander to “involuntary
unassigned” status, causing Alexander to lose his
prison job, after Alexander successfully defended a conduct
report accusing him of stealing from the canteen. Dkt. 12.
Alexander now moves for an order compelling five discovery
responses. Dkt. 22. I will grant his motion in part.
in his interrogatory no. 3, Alexander seeks the security
camera footage related to the conduct report. Defendants
object, explaining that some of the footage was not saved and
that allowing Alexander to review the saved footage would
pose a security risk-he would know which areas are within the
camera's view and which are not. In lieu of the footage,
defendants provided Alexander with Immerfall's
declaration, which describes the footage (both the saved and
unsaved portions) and “provides Alexander the necessary
information he needs to know: the basis upon which Defendants
assert to have terminated him.” Dkt. 23, at 5. The
parties jointly request that I review the saved footage and
determine whether it is discoverable. I have done so.
Immerfall's description of the saved footage is accurate.
The footage is relevant to Alexander's claims, but only
tangentially: it appears that the factual issues will focus
on defendants' actions, which may have been motivated in
part by the footage; they will not focus on Alexander's
actions as seen in the footage. And Alexander has not
explained why he needs the footage, as opposed to an accurate
description of the footage. Weighing against disclosure is
defendants' rational security concern. So I will not
compel defendants to produce the footage to Alexander.
in interrogatory no. 4, Alexander asks defendants to identify
each individual involved in the decision to remove Alexander
from his prison job. Defendants initially responded to
Alexander's request by naming Meli as the sole
decision-maker. Alexander argues that the DOC-1408 form
recording his removal “reveals several other
names.” Dkt. 22, at 3. Defendants say it doesn't.
The DOC-1408 form bears two “authorizing
signatures.” See Dkt. 24-1. One of the
signatures appears to be Meli's. It's unclear who the
other signature belongs to-Alexander thinks it's a
correctional officer named Kroll. It would appear that the
second individual was involved in authorizing Alexander's
removal. So I will order defendants to identify the second
individual who signed the DOC-1408 form and explain that
individual's role in the decision-making process.
in interrogatory no. 6, Alexander seeks all information that
Meli relied upon when removing Alexander from his prison job.
Defendants responded to Alexander's request by explaining
that “Alexander's continued employment in the
kitchen posed a security and safety risk based on his
affiliation with a security threat group and his proven
participation in a group effort to conceal and then steal
items from the kitchen.” Dkt. 22-1, at 6. They also
explained that the “WCI Gang Task Force” told
Meli that Alexander “was operating in a leadership
capacity with his Security Threat Group.” Id.
at 5. Defendants refused to provide any more details,
explaining that doing so would pose a security risk.
Defendants' security concern is rational, but the
information that Alexander seeks here goes to the heart of
his claims, so I will grant his motion to compel the
production of this information. But I will allow defendants
to propose how best to allow Alexander to review the
information without compromising the institution's
security. To do so, they should submit the information to the
court for in-camera review. They should also submit any
proposed redactions. After considering defendants'
response, I will instruct defendants on how to produce the
information to Alexander.
in interrogatories no. 9 and 10, Alexander asks defendants to
“compile information and data for a five-year
period” of all WCI inmates who have been removed from
their prison jobs and all inmates who have been removed from
a food service department job and subsequently reassigned to
the food service department. Dkt. 22, at 4. Defendants have
refused (with the exception of the records regarding the
other two inmates who were accused of conspiring with
Alexander to steal items from the canteen). They argue that
this request is “overly broad and unduly
burdensome.” Dkt. 22-1, at 7. They explain that to
compile this information, they “would have to search
the individual files of thousands of inmates, ” which
are stored in two different locations. Dkt. 26, ¶ 7.
Even compiling the information for a one-year period
“would be an arduous task, ” they say, because
there are hundreds of DOC-1408 forms completed each month.
Id. ¶ 8.
“burden or expense of the proposed discovery” is
a factor to consider when deciding whether to order
production of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). It must be
weighed against the “likely benefit” of the
discovery to the party requesting it. Id. Here, any
record showing that an inmate was removed from his prison job
would support an inference that Alexander was not treated any
differently, which would undermine Alexander's claims.
(Records showing that an inmate wasn't removed
from his prion job might support Alexander's claims, but
Alexander hasn't requested such records, and it's not
clear that they exist.) So the likely benefit of this
discovery to Alexander is low and outweighed by the burden of
compiling and producing it. I will deny Alexander's
motion to compel the production of records of inmates removed
from their prison jobs.
in interrogatory no. 11, Alexander seeks defendants'
disciplinary records. Defendants have explained that Meli has
no disciplinary records and that Immerfall has no
disciplinary records relevant to Alexander's claims. But
defendants allowed Alexander to review parts of
Immerfall's record concerning discipline Immerfall
received for failing to comply with a procedure, and
discipline he received for interacting with another inmate.
They have filed Immerfall's complete disciplinary record
ex parte so that I may review it and determine whether any
additional portions are discoverable. I have done so. I agree
that the records are not relevant to the merits of
Alexander's claims, so I will deny Alexander's motion
to compel these records.
defendants concede, the records may be relevant to
Immerfall's credibility, so if Alexander's claims
survive summary judgment and head to trial, Alexander may
renew his request for these records.
Plaintiff Stephen E. Alexander's motion to compel
defendants' discovery responses, Dkt. 22, is GRANTED in
July 19, 2018, defendants must disclose to plaintiff the
identity of the second individual who signed the DOC-1408
form, Dkt. 24-1, and explain that individual's role in
the decision-making process.
July 19, 2018, defendants must file with the court a proposed
method for allowing plaintiff to review the information and
records responsive to plaintiff's interrogatory no. 6
without compromising the Waupun Correctional
Institution's security. They must ...