Defendants Ordered to Produce Email Metadata
In Prezio Health, Inc. v. Schenk, et. al., Case No. 13-1463 (D. Conn., Sept. 9, 2015), the District of Connecticut recently considered whether to order Defendants to produce metadata for already-produced emails in a recent opinion.
Plaintiff sued a former employee and his current employer for violations of a non-compete provision in the employee’s contract with Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that Defendant Schenk used his personal email account to forward confidential information concerning Plaintiff to the new employer. During discovery, Plaintiff provided a list of 18 search terms to be used in searching Defendants’ computers for emails sent and received by Defendant Schenk during a certain period. When Defendants produced no documents, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel, requesting that Defendants produce all computers or hard drives in their possession on which Defendant Schenk might have sent or received emails during the relevant timeframe. The magistrate judge ordered that Defendants produce the items responsive to the 18 search terms for in camera review.
Because Plaintiff already had possession of many of the emails provided for in camera review, the court ordered Defendants to provide Plaintiff with the metadata for eight specific emails, although ordered that Plaintiff had to reimburse Defendants for the expense of producing the metadata.
Plaintiffs seeking electronic information where dates and times are relevant to the case should always request native format and/or separate production of metadata when making initial discovery requests, to avoid the cost and expense of a motion to compel later in the case. Metadata can be useful in cases like this one, where the timing and location of emails could affect the outcome.