Court Schools Defendant on Deduplication of Email
In Family Wireless #1, LLC et. al. v. Automotive Technologies, Inc., Case No. 15-01310 (D. Conn., May 19, 2016), Plaintiffs are franchisees of Defendant who sued Defendant for breach of contract, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and unfair trade practices. The parties filed their FRCP 26(f) report that provided a protocol for preservation and production of ESI. Thereafter, the parties had a number of meet and confers to come to an agreement on ESI search terms and custodians, but they could not come to an agreement upon search terms or the number of custodians.
There was previous agreement upon seven custodians; Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel seeking searches of six more custodians, whom Plaintiff claims were involved in day-to-day operations as well as decision making. Defendant objected, stating that no relevant information would be found with these six persons and that searching their emails would be unduly burdensome. Defendant asserted that these email custodians likely had many duplicative emails that had already been produced from the searches of the previous custodians.
The court looked to FRCP 26(b), which provides that ESI must be produced as long as it is relevant, not privileged, and accessible. The court did not find that the production would be burdensome to Defendant, as it could use deduplication of email to clean up the production. The court also did not agree with Defendant that relevant emails would not be found. However, the court found that Plaintiffs only established good cause to search three additional custodians, not six. The court granted the Motion only as to the three custodians that it determined would have relevant information.