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Stormo v. City of Sioux Falls

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

February 19, 2016

ERIC STORMO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, R. SHAWN TORNOW, DAVE MUNSON, MIKE HUETHER, PAT KNEIP, DOUG BARTHEL, JOHN DOE, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO MODIFY, GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTIONS TO COMPEL, AND GRANTING MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Eric Stormo, filed this pro se lawsuit naming the City of Sioux Falls, R. Shawn Tornow, Dave Munson, Mike Huether, Pat Kneip, Doug Barthel, and John Doe as defendants. Stormo moves this court to modify its November 21, 2012 summary judgment order (Docket 120) and to compel defendants to produce or reproduce discovery (Docket 123; Docket 139; Docket 141). Defendants move for an order protecting Mayor Huether from being deposed. Docket 144. For the following reasons, Stormo’s motions are denied in part and granted in part, and defendants’ motion is granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Stormo filed his original complaint in April 2012. Docket 1. He alleged that defendants violated his federal civil rights from 2005 to the present because of his status as a landowner and landlord. Id. The court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment in part. Docket 27. Stormo then filed a second amended complaint with additional claims. Docket 34.

Discovery is ongoing and fraught with complications. Stormo has filed numerous motions, often raising unrelated, irrelevant, or indecipherable arguments. Defendants have neither responded to all of Stormo’s discovery requests adequately nor complied with all of the court’s orders sufficiently.

DISCUSSION

I. Stormo’s Motion to Modify the Summary Judgment Order (Docket 120) Is Denied

Stormo filed a motion presenting numerous arguments that the court should reverse its November 21, 2012 decision to grant summary judgment on certain claims. Docket 120. First, he argues that summary judgment should not have been granted based on his failure to file a Notice of Harm under SDCL 3-21-2. Docket 120 at 2. But this is not the reason the court granted summary judgment. The court granted summary judgment because most of Stormo’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Docket 27 at 8-10.

Second, Stormo argues that his state-law claims should not have been dismissed because SDCL 15-2-15.2 only applies to federal civil rights claims. Docket 120 at 3. His claims, however, were dismissed under SDCL 15-2-14(3) and 15-2-15(1), see Docket 27 at 8-10, both of which apply to state-law claims.

Third, Stormo argues that the court should not have granted summary judgment because defendants did not argue that his claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Docket 120 at 7. Defendants’ arguments are immaterial. Stormo was required by South Dakota law to bring his claims within the period defined by the statute of limitations. He failed to do so. The claims are therefore barred. Stormo’s motion to modify the summary judgment order that was entered three years ago is denied.

II. Stormo’s Motion To Compel (Docket 123) Is Granted

Stormo moves the court to compel defendants to produce documents he requested in “Document Request 1.” Docket 123 at 2. He alleges defendants have not completed requests 8, 9, 15, 21, 36, 37, 45, 46, 53, and 54. Id. While the court sustained objections to all of these requests, it narrowed the scope of the requests and ordered defendants to respond. Docket 60. Stormo’s argument for the necessity of the information is vague and is based on claims that were dismissed when the court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Docket 123 at 5-6.

In response to this motion, defendants claim that they answered these requests. Docket 133. Defendants filed an affidavit from Paul M. Bengford. Docket 134. Bengford is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Sioux Falls and claims that defendants have already “produced all known documents that are responsive to Plaintiff’s production requests and that relate to the sole claims remaining in this case, all of which arise from the April 2009 seizure of Plaintiff’s lift.” Id. at 1-2. As previously discussed in this court’s January 26, 2016 order, Stormo’s remaining claims include more than just the 2009 seizure. See Docket 149. Therefore, Stormo’s motion is granted. Defendants are ordered to respond to document requests 8, 9, 15, 21, 36, 37, 45, 46, 53, and 54 as they relate to the surviving claims.

III. Stormo’s Motion To Compel (Docket 139) Is Granted in Part and Denied in Part

Stormo moves this court to compel defendants to provide electronically stored information in its native format, metadata for these documents, and an index explaining information about the documents. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(2)(E), when

producing documents or electronically stored information: (i) A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request; (ii) If a request does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form. . . .

A. Native Format

Stormo moves this court to compel defendants to reproduce documents in their native format. Docket 139 at 1. He claims that he made a general request for all electronically stored information in its native format at the time of his initial document request. Id. at 2. He does not, however, explain what is wrong with the format in which defendants have produced the documents. Therefore, the motion to compel is denied as it concerns his request to reproduce documents in their native format.

B. Metadata

Stormo moves this court to compel defendants to provide metadata for all documents and electrically stored information that they have produced. Id. at 6-7. In Document Request 3 at number 9, Stormo requested, “All Documents or meta data [sic] which log or audit trail the time and date entries were made or changed, or the data which was entered or changed, for any city controlled computer records system . . . .” Docket 139-2. Stormo argues that metadata would allow him to discover whether the data is “forensically sound, ” specifically: when it was created, accessed, or modified. Docket 139 at 7.

Defendants argue that providing Stormo the metadata would be overly burdensome and state that they have no system that tracks the metadata Stormo seeks. Docket 153 at 3. Therefore, in order to provide the metadata, defendants would have to go through each document and retrieve the metadata from the program with which the document was created. Id.

Defendants also contend that they previously objected to this request. Id. at 2-3; see also Docket 139-2. In response to Stormo’s request, defendants merely stated “Overly Burdensome Request.” Docket 139-2. Stormo argues that defendants did not carry their burden to show that the request was burdensome because they have done nothing more than state a boilerplate and cursory objection. See Continental Ill. Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago v. Caton, 136 F.R.D. 682, 684-85 (D.Kan. 1991) (“All discovery requests are a burden on the party who must respond thereto. Unless the task of producing or answering is unusual, undue or extraordinary, the general rule requires the entity answering or producing the documents to bear that burden.”).

Defendants’ response may fail to articulate how this discovery is extraordinary or unusual, but Stormo has failed to show the metadata’s relevancy to his claims. His motion to compel argues that he wants the metadata to be sure that the documents were not created for or altered in anticipation of litigation. Docket 139 at 7. Stormo has not explained why he thinks defendants might have Dated this. There is no indication that they have altered the documents. Stormo fails to convince the court that the metadata is relevant to his claims, the request falls outside of the parameters of discovery, and therefore, his motion to compel is denied as it concerns his request for metadata.

C. Index

Stormo moves this court to compel defendants to label and index the provided discovery pursuant to the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(2)(E)(i). Docket 139 at 4. He claims that defendants have not produced documents and electronically stored information “as they are kept in the usual course of business, ” or, in the alternative, “organize[d] and label[led] them to correspond to the categories in the request . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(E)(i). He states, “In each instance, the Defendants have responded with a jumbled group of documents which is not labeled or indexed in any manner.” Docket 139 at 2. He claims that removing the documents from their original files made it impossible to determine the information about the custodian and source of the documents. Id. at 3. It is also not clear to which request each document is responsive. Id. at 4.

Defendants argue that they have produced documents in an organized fashion and in the form kept in the ordinary course of business. Docket 153 at 5. Beyond this assertion, defendants do not explain how they complied with Rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i).

Defendants also argue that the concerns underlying Rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) are not implicated by Stormo’s document requests. Id. Defendants, unlike defendants in other cases where courts found indexes necessary, produced one box (1, 300 pages) of documents. Id. Defendants essentially argue that this case involves the number of documents that is both too few to index but too many to provide metadata. The court disagrees. Stormo’s index request is reasonable and required by the rules, and the smaller amount of documents will make it easier to index.

Defendants argue that Stormo has not claimed he was prevented from “reviewing or using” the documents, and that if he found he was, he should not have waited a year to complain. Id. at 5-6. Stormo’s motion, however, does make this claim. See Docket 139 at 3 (stating it is impossible to determine the information about the custodian and source of the documents). Further, Stormo‚Äôs ...


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