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Fulton v. Foley

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

December 5, 2019, Decided; December 5, 2019, Filed

Case No. 17-CV-8696

Opinion

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Derrell Fulton has moved to quash a subpoena issued by Defendant City of Chicago to Momentum Funding, LLC [185]. The question presented in this motion is whether litigation funding documents that were provided by Plaintiff to Momentum in order to obtain third-party funding for the litigation are relevant under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), and whether they are protected by the attorney work product doctrine. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the motion to quash.

Background

Plaintiff Derrell Fulton has filed a complaint alleging that he was wrongfully arrested and convicted of a sexual assault and murder that he did not commit. This lawsuit alleges that the defendants coerced his false confession and fabricated evidence that caused Plaintiff's arrest, conviction, and 23 years of incarceration. Defendants have denied the allegations of the complaint.

During discovery, Defendant City of Chicago [*3]  has served a subpoena pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 on Momentum Funding, LLC for documents relating to the obtention of litigation funding by Plaintiff. The subpoena seeks communications with Plaintiff and his attorneys, summaries and assessments of the case, applications for funding, and all funding agreements and statements of the terms of funding. Plaintiff has moved to quash the subpoena. At the outset, Plaintiff has argued it has standing to bring the motion to quash, and defendant has not challenged the standing issue in its response brief. The Court finds that Plaintiff has standing because it has a legitimate interest in the information as it details private financial information related to funding of the fees and costs associated with this litigation, and disclosure of the documents also impacts the production of attorney work product material. See Allstate Ins. Co. v. Electrolux Home Prod., Inc., No. 16-CV-4161, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189229, 2017 WL 5478297, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15, 2017). Turning to the substance of Plaintiff's motion to quash, Plaintiff argues that the subpoenaed documents are irrelevant under Rule 26(b)(1) and also seek information protected by the attorney work product doctrine.

Legal Standard

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2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209585 *; 2019 WL 6609298

DERRELL FULTON, Plaintiff, v. WILLIAM FOLEY, et al., Defendant.

Subsequent History: Motion granted by Coleman v. City of Chicago, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 219753 (N.D. Ill., Dec. 23, 2019)

CORE TERMS

funding, documents, subpoena, discovery, settlement