Court Denies Defendant’s Burdensome Request to Conduct a 30(b)(6) Deposition Regarding Plaintiff’s ESI Production
When is a noticed deposition unnecessarily burdensome? In Koninklijke Philips Electronics v. Hunt, Civil Action No. 11-3684 (ES) (MAH) (D.N.J. Nov. 7, 2014), Plaintiff produced electronic documents. Following the production, defense counsel interviewed Plaintiff’s IT employee regarding Plaintiff’s ESI practices. Nine months later, Defendant noticed a 30(b)(6) deposition to further inquire about Plaintiff’s IT practices. After a hearing over the issue, the magistrate judge stayed the deposition and ordered Defendant to issue eight questions to Plaintiff regarding the IT practices that Defendant claimed remained unanswered.
Plaintiff answered the eight questions and completed its ESI production. Defendant then issued a new 30(b)(6) IT deposition. Plaintiff objected to the deposition as untimely and unnecessary. The magistrate judge agreed and entered a protective order. Defendant appealed to the district court.
FRCP 26(b)(2)(C) guards against redundant and disproportionate discovery, and allows a court to deny discovery if its burden will outweigh any perceived benefits. The court reviewed the deposition dispute under an abuse of discretion standard and found the following:
- Defendant had two opportunities to probe the Plaintiff’s ESI capabilities: in the initial IT interview and in the eight written follow-up questions. Plaintiff had made adequate representations to the magistrate judge that its ESI collections were reasonable.
- Defendant failed to demonstrate that the Plaintiff’s ESI production was incomplete. In addition to the completed ESI production and the two opportunities Defendant had to inquire as to Plaintiff’s procedures, Plaintiff submitted declarations of three IT custodians regarding the adequacy of production.
- Because the IT deposition would explore the same information already provided to Defendant on multiple occasions, Plaintiff demonstrated that the burden of the IT deposition outweighed any possible benefit.
Pursuant to FRCP 26(b)(2)(C), the court held that the additional IT deposition notice was an unnecessary burden and affirmed the protective order denying the deposition.