Court Denies Defendants’ Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Re-Organize Document Production

14 Oct 2016

In State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Universal Rehab Services, Inc., et. al., Case No. 15-10993 (E.D. Mich., Sept. 26, 2016), Plaintiff sued Defendants for allegedly engaging in a scheme to submit fraudulent no-fault insurance benefit claims. During discovery, Defendants propounded interrogatories and requests for production of documents upon Plaintiff, who submitted responses that Defendants found to be inadequate.

With respect to the document requests, over the course of the litigation, Plaintiff turned over around 380,000 documents, which it separated into categories. Defendants sought to compel Plaintiff to identify and organize the documents produced with more specificity and organize them to more clearly indicate to which requests they are responsive. Defendants also argued that Plaintiff produced excessive documents, including irrelevant materials and blank pages. Plaintiff argued that it had no duty to identify which documents were responsive to which requests, as in the Eastern District of Michigan, FRCP 34 was not read to impose such a duty.

Plaintiff averred, and the court agreed, that it provided a cover letter identifying the documents by category with each production and also included an electronic file containing information about each document, including confidentiality, email subject, and sent date. The court found that Plaintiff produced emails based upon the agreed-upon list of search terms and as they are kept in the ordinary course of business. The court agreed with Plaintiff that it had no duty to further sort or organize the documents produced.

The court denied the motion in its entirety, including the request to compel more complete answers to interrogatories.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts