United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Tenner Murphy, by his guardians Kay and Richard Murphy; Marrie Bottelson; Dionne Swanson; and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
Emily Johnson Piper in her Capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Defendant.
DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon Defendant's appeal (Doc.
No. 203) of Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson's February
21, 2018 Order on Plaintiffs' Motion Pursuant to Rule
37(b)(2) (Doc. No. 189). Plaintiffs filed a response to
Defendant's objections on March 21, 2018. (Doc. No. 206.)
Court must modify or set aside any portion of the Magistrate
Judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or contrary
to law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); Local Rule 72.2(a). This is an
“extremely deferential” standard. Reko v.
Creative Promotions, Inc., 70 F.Supp.2d 1005, 1007 (D.
Minn. 1999). “A finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” Chakales v. Comm'r of Internal
Revenue, 79 F.3d 726, 728 (8th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Chase v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 926 F.2d
737, 740 (8th Cir. 1991)). “A magistrate judge's
ruling is contrary to law when it either fails to apply or
misapplies pertinent statutes, case law or rules of
procedure.” Coons v. BNSF Ry. Co., 268
F.Supp.3d 983, 991 (D. Minn. 2017) (citing Edeh v.
Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 748 F.Supp.2d 1030, 1043 (D.
The Magistrate Judge's Order and Defendant's
January 25, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a Motion Pursuant to Rule
37(b)(2), seeking to compel Defendant to fully respond to an
interrogatory that Plaintiffs had initially prepared on
February 21, 2017. (See Doc. Nos. 175, 177; see
also Doc. No. 70 (“Burke Aff.”) ¶ 2,
Ex. A at 8, 13.) Specifically, Plaintiffs took issue with
Defendant's response to Interrogatory No. 6(c), a subpart
of the following interrogatory:
INTERROGATORY NO. 6: For each lead agency,
a. Current compliance with the Person-Centered, Informed
Choice, and Transition Protocol, available at:
b. The number of individuals who have moved from a corporate
foster care facility into an alternative to foster care; and
c. For each person identified in part b of this
interrogatory, explain and describe in detail how the
transition and move occurred.
Aff. ¶ 2, Ex. A at 8.) In their Rule 37(b)(2) Motion,
Plaintiffs also sought a contempt finding against Defendant
and attorney fees. (Doc. No. 175.) Defendant opposed
Plaintiffs' motion. (Doc. Nos. 180-85.)
February 21, 2018, the Magistrate Judge granted
Plaintiffs' Rule 37(b)(2) motion in part, compelling a
supplemental response to Interrogatory No. 6(c), but
otherwise denying without prejudice Plaintiffs' requested
relief. (Doc. No. 189 at 14-17.) Specifically, the Magistrate
Judge determined that Defendants' supplemental response
to Interrogatory No. 6(c) was inadequate. The Magistrate
Judge explained that Defendant's supplemental
interrogatory response, along with the supporting documents
filed in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion, demonstrated
“that Defendant has responsive information that was not
included in her supplemental response.” (Id.
at 11.) Even though Defendant admitted to having responsive
information within her own databases, the Magistrate Judge
explained, “[s]he simply chose not to search them
because she contends the search (1) would be too burdensome