Culling Through 10,000 Emails Not Overly Burdensome Rules Court

2 Nov 2020

In Broussard v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. State Univ. & A & M Coll., No. 19-527-BAJ-RLB (M.D. La. Sep. 28, 2020), Plaintiff moved to compel and for sanctions under FRCP 37 on the grounds that Defendants failed to produce certain emails, among other discovery.

The lawsuit arose from Plaintiff’s allegations that Defendants failed to pay her compensation for running an aftercare program, her duties as a principal, and subsequent termination.  Among other discovery, Plaintiff sought emails from parents and teachers which allegedly raised complaints about her and played a role in her termination. 

Defendants argued, in part, that culling through 10,000 emails would be disproportionate and overly burdensome.  The Court rejected the argument stating that the emails went directly to Defendants’ position that they had sufficient reason to justify her non-reappointment which was attributable in complaints received via email from parents and teachers, and that Plaintiff was entitled to the emails whether it supports Defendants’ position or serves to impeach witnesses. 

The Court was also not convinced that searching through 10,000 emails would be too burdensome.  Defendants made no showing that they did not have the capacity to review the emails using search terms or other means.

Plaintiff also sought an order striking Defendants’ reasons for Plaintiff’s termination arguing that she was effectively precluded from questioning witnesses regarding the parents’ complaints because of Defendants’ failure to timely produce the emails.  The Court did not find that request to be appropriate given that Plaintiff had the opportunity to question the witnesses regarding the justification for their actions and that the emails could still be used by the jury to determine whether the reasons provided in the depositions were legitimate based on subsequently produced emails. 

However, the Court did find that Defendants’ failure to timely provide discovery unjustified and sanctioned Defendants 50% of Plaintiff’s costs and expenses incurred in bringing Plaintiff’s motion.