Defendants in Putative Class Action Suit Required to Provide Email Information
In Munguia-Brown, et. al. v. Equity Residential, et. al., Case No. 16-01225 (N.D. Cali., June 20, 2017), Plaintiffs asserted that landlord Defendants charged Plaintiffs improper late fees in violation of California law.
Plaintiffs sought discovery of the names of employees involved in the decision to adopt the late fee policy and requested that Defendants certify whether those employees’ email accounts were destroyed, and if not, their present format. Plaintiffs also requested that Defendants search their emails using six specific terms and explain in writing regarding whether these emails had been deleted and, if so, whether they were recoverable. In letter briefs to the court, Plaintiffs made these requests to provide email information, and Defendants argued that they have not refused to identify any records custodians, and these employees at issue stopped working for them long before the suit was filed. Therefore, the relevant emails no longer exist unless they were specifically saved or unless they were printed in hard copy and filed. Defendants did search for such information and produced what they had.
The court ordered Defendants to file a declaration describing their current email system, whether these emails were migrated to the new system or otherwise preserved, as well as what data was preserved from the old system and how it was preserved.