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Lilly must produce files from noose incident

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Eli Lilly & Co. must produce documents related to the handling of a noose being found in an area its employees frequent for discovery in a separate suit alleging discrimination in the company.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of Indiana's Southern District Tuesday granted the plaintiff's motion to compel discovery relating to a 2008 noose incident near Eli Lilly in the case Cassandra Welch, et al. v. Eli Lilly & Co., No. 1:06-cv-0641.

Cassandra Welch and three other employees filed two proposed class-action complaints in April 2006 against the drug maker alleging discrimination throughout the workforce regarding pay, discipline, promotions, and other areas, and that incidents of racial harassment and intimidation resulted in a hostile work environment. According to the complaint, Welch once found a dark-colored doll with a noose around its neck on her desk. The second complaint alleges Lilly discourages investigations that uncover evidence of race discrimination and covers up such incidents.

The documents at question in this case involve a February 2008 incident in which contract security officer Dawn Johnson saw a rope in a tree with a hangman's noose on the end of it near a parking garage associated with Lilly. Johnson reported the incident to supervisors and claimed she wasn't contacted by any Lilly employee until a month later, after Welch made her complaint to the FBI.

Lilly objected to the discovery request saying it was overbroad and burdensome, and wanted information that wasn't relevant to the subject matter of Welch's suits.

Magistrate Magnus-Stinson rejected Lilly's arguments that the information about the February 2008 incident was irrelevant. The critical issue is not whether any Lilly employee was involved in the incident but rather the company's response to the incident. Welch and others have alleged a hostile work environment and that Lilly has failed to respond to or covered up past incidents of a hostile nature and Lilly's response to this incident is relevant to that claim, wrote the magistrate.

Lilly also feared the information would be used to publicize and sensationalize the suit, citing two press releases issued regarding the incident. Counsel for the plaintiffs assured that any documents produced would be protected pursuant to terms of a protective order in place.

Magistrate Magnus-Stinson ordered Lilly to produce the requested documents by Jan. 30.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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