Court Recommends eDiscovery Consultant Help with Defense Production
In the employment discrimination case Brown v. FPI Management, No. 4:11-cv-5414 YGR (N.D. Cal 2013), the court issued an order regarding a discovery dispute. The defendants objected to plaintiff electronic discovery requests seeking email communications between the defendant employer and third-parties employees about promotions within the company.
The requests were pursuant to plaintiffs’ claim of disparate treatment. This information would necessarily include data about the defendants’ other employees, who are not parties to the suit. The defendant objected to the requests on the grounds that the third-party privacy rights of the employees outweighed plaintiff’s need for this discovery.
The court dismissed this objection, noting that the plaintiff sought relevant information on the defendant’s hiring and promoting practices. Also, the court noted that the data would not include medical records or anything invasive about the third parties, and there is a protective order in place to maintain confidentiality.
The defendants next argued that the discovery production was overly burdensome. Plaintiffs requested emails between certain dates that had the keywords “community director,” “portfolio manager” and “promotion.” The defendants argued it would be overly burdensome to search these terms as they are used so frequently, and that their email system was not capable of conducting advanced searches.
Ignorance of technology as a defense to discovery production obligations? The court wasn’t buying it and recommended an eDiscovery consultant. “Although Defendant may not know how to efficiently conduct a search of its email system, that does not relieve it of its discovery operations. It may need to utilize the assistance of IT personnel or obtain a consultant to help conduct the search.” Id.