Defendant’s Excuses are Insufficient, Must Provide Electronic Documents with Metadata

5 Dec 2013

In RPM Pizza, LLC v. Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company, No. 10-684-BAJ-SCR (Dist. Court, M.D. Louisiana Nov. 15, 2013), plaintiff RPM Pizza (doing business as Domino’s) sued defendant Argonaut for payment on an insurance claim. RPM Pizza was accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and they expected Argonaut to provide defense costs under the General Liability Policy purchased by RPM Pizza. Argonaut reserved its right to deny coverage and only paid some defense costs for RPM Pizza.

Format Objections Must Be Timely

In the current litigation, Argonaut produced electronic documents in .pdf format, contrary to RPM Pizza document requests for electronic documents with all metadata available. RPM Pizza objects to this production, because .pdf format does not contain original metadata. Argonaut provided three objections to the eDiscovery requests:

1)     A general objection to the instruction;

2)     That RPM Pizza waived its format request by not objecting to an earlier production of documents in .pdf format;

3)     That RPM Pizza failed to show why Argonaut needed to produce electronic documents with metadata.

The court rejected all objections by Argonaut. Under Fed. R Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(e), RPM Pizza properly specified an electronic document format in discovery, and Argonaut did not object for more than six months. Waiting so long was untimely, and the general objection by Argonaut was not reasonable. In addition, the court contradicted Argonaut, noting RPM Pizza did object to the earlier .pdf format without metadata. The court firmly rejected the final objection by Argonaut by simply restating Rule 34, which provides each party the opportunity to specify the format for electronic document production. Argonaut waited too long to object to RPM Pizza specifications, so the court granted RPM Pizza’s motion to compel.

Plaintiffs dealing with recalcitrant defendants have court support when requesting specific eDiscovery formats. Most importantly, plaintiffs must follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, particularly Rule 34, which allows parties to specify a particular format for electronic document production. As long as plaintiffs eDiscovery requests follow Rule 34, courts compel defendants to provide the requested metadata.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts