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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. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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