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Kaur v. City of Lodi

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 16, 2015

SUKHWINDER KAUR, et al., Plaintiff,
CITY OF LODI, et al., Defendants.


ALLISON CLAIRE, District Judge.

This is an excessive force action brought by the estate of Parminder Singh Shergill (the decedent), Sukhwinder Kaur (decedent's mother), and decedent's two siblings, against Scott Bratton, one of the two City of Lodi police officers who shot the decedent to death, along with the other officer, the City, its police department and the Chief of Police. The case is proceeding on the Second Amended Complaint. ECF No. 47.

On January 13, 2015, plaintiffs served a subpoena duces tecum upon the City of Manteca, where Bratton had served as a police officer before joining the City of Lodi police force. See Subpoena (Joint Statement, ECF No. 66-2) at 8. The subpoena demanded the production of all documents Manteca had that related to Bratton, its former employee. Id. It appears that Manteca produced all responsive documents to Bratton, apparently leaving it to Bratton to respond to the subpoena.[1] See Declaration of Masuhara (Joint Statement, ECF No. 66-1) ¶ 2. Pending is defendant Bratton's motion to quash the subpoena. The parties have met and conferred, and filed a Joint Statement, as required by the Local Rules. See E.D. Cal. R. 251.

This matter came on for hearing on March 11, 2015 before the undersigned. Plaintiffs, Bratton and the City of Lodi were represented, but Manteca did not appear.


A. Factual Allegations

According to the Second Amended Complaint, the decedent, Parminder Singh Shergill, was an honorably discharged, disabled Gulf War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Complaint (ECF No. 47), Introduction at 2. On the morning of January 25, 2014, decedent failed to take his prescribed medication, and became anxious, so his family wanted him to visit the Veteran's Affairs Clinic ("VAC") in French Camp, California for treatment. Complaint, Introduction at 2 & ¶ 18. As they had done in the past, they contacted the City of Lodi Police Department to request assistance for the transportation of the decedent to the VAC. Complaint, Introduction at 2. City of Lodi police officers Scott Bratton and Adam Lockie responded to the call at decedent's residence, but were informed that he had gone for a walk, a morning routine for him. Id. The officers left the residence after informing the decedent's family that they would talk to the decedent if they saw him. Id.

Bratton and Lockie located the decedent in a park two blocks away. Id. They confronted decedent, attempting to stop him for questioning, and proceeded to follow him when he did not answer their questions as he walked toward home. Id. When the decedent reached the street on which he lived, Bratton and Lockie drew their firearms and confronted the decedent by yelling at him. Id. As the decedent turned around to face the officers, he held his hands in the air and stated "Don't shoot!" Complaint, Introduction at 2 & ¶ 44. The officers then opened fire, shooting the decedent 14 times, even as he fell to the street, killing him. Complaint ¶ 45. The decedent was unarmed and did not threaten the officers. Complaint, Introduction at 2. Nevertheless, the officers reported that decedent had charged at them with a knife immediately prior to the shooting. Complaint ¶ 52.

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiffs filed their original complaint on April 3, 2014. ECF No. 1. After two motions to dismiss and partial dismissals with leave to amend, the case is now proceeding on the Second Amended Complaint ("complaint") (ECF No. 47). Plaintiffs are proceeding on their claims under (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, (2) Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.; and (3) the California State Constitution and other California laws.

On August 6, 2014, plaintiffs served discovery requests on defendants Bratton and Lockie, the City of Lodi, the police department and the chief of police, requesting production of all personnel records of the officers from their time in the Lodi police department. ECF No. 59-1, Exhs. A-E. Bratton and the other defendants refused to produce the officers' "remote" personnel records, which defendants defined as all personnel records that were more than five years old, and resisted plaintiffs' motion to compel the production of those documents. See ECF No. 60.

The undersigned granted plaintiffs' motion to compel, rejecting defendants' argument that age alone rendered all personnel records irrelevant if they were more than five years old. See ECF No. 62.


A. Legal Standards

The scope of discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b) is broad: "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. As the Supreme Court reiterated in Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340 (1978), relevance "has been construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." 437 U.S. at 351 (citing Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947)).

Under Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court must quash or modify a subpoena that requires the disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, or subjects a person to undue burden. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A); Mattel, Inc. v. Walking Mountain Productions, 353 F.3d 792, 814 (9th Cir. 2003) (same). "The party who resists discovery has the burden to show discovery should not be allowed, and has the burden of ...

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