Anderson v. Hale
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3774 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 29, 2001)
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7538 (N.D. Ill. June 1, 2001)

  • A white supremacist named Smith went on a shooting rampage and injured Anderson.
  • Anderson sued Hale, who was the leader of Smith's white supremacy movement on the grounds that Hale had encouraged Smith to become violent.
  • Anderson requested that the State Bar of Montana turnover Hale's bar application (Hale was an attorney). Hale objected, using a Rule 60(b) motion.
    • Anderson argued that the State Bar might have uncovered information would shed light on Hale's character and fitness.
    • Hale argued three things:
      • The information was irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
      • The information had already been produced by other parties.
      • The request was not an effort to obtain evidence, but merely to harass Hale.
        • Rule 45(c)(1) requires parties to take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on the person subject to a subpoena.
  • The Trial Court found for Anderson.
    • The Trial Court found that under Rule 26(b)(1), the scope of discovery should be interpreted broadly. Discovery rules are liberally construed to provide parties with access to the operative facts of the case.
      • Rule 26(b)(1) allowed for the discovery of information "relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action."
    • The Court felt that the request was inside the scope of discovery.
  • A few months later, the Trial Court admitted an error and vacated its decision. Anderson appealed.
    • The Trial Court they used the old version of Rule 26(b)(1), which has since been amended.
    • The new version of Rule 26(b)(1), says that "parties may obtain discovery of any matter that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party." The Court construed this as a narrowing of the Rule.
      • Information is only relevant if it directly involves the claims or defenses of the lawsuit.
  • The Appellate Court found for Anderson and allowed discovery.
    • The Appellate Court found that, even under the new Rule 26 standard, the information Anderson was requesting was still discoverable.
    • The Court found that the dividing line between information relevant to "the claims and defenses", and that relevant only to "the subject matter of the action" cannot be defined with precision.
      • Basically the Court admitted that the standard had changed, but that they didn't see how the change affected this case.