Emails Produced Lead to Additional Defendant and Claim
Our ongoing analysis of electronic discovery in modern civil litigation has established a major truism: email threads in electronic data discovery are often the source of critical evidence and can sometimes uncover hidden truths. This was demonstrated in the recent opinion and order dated March 28, 2013 in Campbell v. Sedgwick, Civil No. 11.-642-ES-SCM (D.NJ 2013).
In this case, Plaintiff received an initial defense production which contained certain emails that Plaintiff believed evidenced an additional person’s direct involvement in the case. Plaintiff sought leave to amend the pleadings to name additional defendants and to add causes of action. Defendant objected and sought a protective order to limit the supplementary discovery served. The Court took up the issues one at a time:
- The Court granted Plaintiff leave to add one of the two persons as an additional defendant to the action. Although the defendant claimed, among other objections, that this was barred by the statute of limitations, the Court agreed with Plaintiff that the claim related back to the initial complaint. Prior to receipt of the data, Plaintiff could not have known about the extent of the person’s involvement but for the email threads uncovered.
- The Court granted leave to Plaintiff to add an additional claim for breach of contract, due to the liberal approach to pleadings embodied by Rule 15.
- The Court rejected defendant’s claim that the discovery requests were voluminous, overly burdensome and harassing.
In denying the protective order, the court made clear that it will not limit discovery otherwise proper simply because the amount sought is voluminous. While there was an upper limit of interrogatories set, Plaintiff had not exceeded that number. “[I]t is the Court’s determination that, considering the number of Defendants, the claims involved, and the factual circumstances alleged in Plaintiff’s pleadings, the discovery at issue is not disproportionate and the entry of a broad protective order is therefore unwarranted.”