Flentye v. Kathrein, No. 06 C 3492, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct 2, 2007) (Cole, Mag. J.).*

Judge Cole continued defendants’ motion to compel for one week because defendants had not conducted a Local Rule 37.2 conference before filing their motion. But the Court also provided its thoughts on the prosecution of discovery, both in this specific case and generally. The Court noted that after one year of discovery, “not a single document was produced in response to the 70 paragraph document request!”

But what is most interesting about the opinion is the Court’s quotes on various discovery issues. On discovery generally: 

“[D]iscovery is the bane of modern federal litigation.” Rossetto v. Pabst Brewing Co., Inc., 217 F.3d 539, 542 (7th Cir. 2000). It is intrusive, unpleasant, time-consuming and costly. It is, like life itself, “nasty [and] brutish …” Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapt XIII. Unfortunately, it is not generally “short.”

On Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(4) sanctions:

The great operative principle of Rule 37(a)(4) is that the loser pays. Fee shifting, when the judge must rule on discovery disputes, encourages their voluntary resolution and curtails the ability of litigants to use the legal process to heap detriments on adversaries without regarding to the merits of the claim.

Quoting Rickels v. City of South Bend, Indiana, 33 F.3d 785, 786 (7th Cir. 1994) (Easterbrook, J.) (internal quotes omitted).

On the less-than-civil nature of “modern” litigation:

Unfortunately, what has occurred here thus far is not uncommon, and the often needless disputes arising in discovery are but the current manifestation of the difficulties about which Learned Hand lamented almost three quarters of a century ago. In an address to the Bar Association of the City of New York in 1921, Hand, then a young district judge, spoke about the “atmosphere of contention over trifles, the unwillingness to conceded what ought to be conceded, and to proceed to the things which matter. Courts have fallen out of repute; many of you avoid them whenever you can, and rightly. About trials hang a suspicion of trickery and a sense of a result depending upon cajolery or worse. I wish I could say that it was all unmerited. After now some dozen years of experience I must say that as a litigant I should dread a lawsuit beyond almost anything else short of sickness and death.” Lectures on Legal Topics, Learned Hand, The Deficiencies Of Trials To Reach the Heart of the Matter, 105 (The MacMillan Co. 1926).

On bad blood between litigants:

What Chief Judge Easterbrook recently said in another case seems to apply here: “There is a grudge match.” Redwood v. Dobson, 476, F.3d 462 (7th Cir. 2007). The parties are free to entertain whatever animus they possess towards each other. Judges have no business in trying to regulate thought and emotion. But they do have an obligation to regulate how parties deal with each other and with ensuring that they comply with the discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

*  For more about this case in the Blog’s archives click here.