Court Permits Plaintiff a 30(b)(6) Deposition to Address Missing Emails and Instant Messages

23 Feb 2015

In Stage v. Restoration Hardware, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:14-cv-077 (S.D. Ohio, Feb. 12, 2015), a sex discrimination case brought against Restoration Hardware and one of its supervisors, the Southern District of Ohio considered Plaintiff’s motion to compel Restoration Hardware to produce further responses to Plaintiff’s document requests, as well Plaintiff’s motion for a discovery extension, and a motion for sanctions.

Plaintiff alleged Defendant’s production contained numerous inadequacies. First, Plaintiff took issue with the manner in which Defendant searched for relevant emails. Defendant claimed it undertook a “comprehensive” search by performing keyword searches of four employees’ email accounts but Defendant did not discuss or share the keywords or methodology it used with Plaintiff. Plaintiff presented evidence that Defendant had produced incomplete email strings, which the court noted would be “unusual” if Defendant had properly used keyword searches. The court ordered that before it undertake any further action with respect to Defendant’s production, Plaintiff could conduct a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition to further inquire as to Defendant’s search methodology.

Second, Plaintiff questioned whether Defendant had properly issued a litigation hold. Plaintiff first learned during her deposition that Defendant had deleted Plaintiff’s corporate email account two weeks after she had resigned from Defendant. Defendant failed to disclose this fact in its response to Plaintiff’s interrogatory requesting information regarding deleted documents. The court ordered that based on this information, Plaintiff could investigate through a 30(b)(6) deposition whether and when Defendant issued a litigation hold.

Third, Defendant produced only a small number of instant messages (“IMs”). Based on Plaintiff’s experience at the company, Plaintiff believed there should have been many more. Defendant initially claimed no IMs existed at all but later produced a small number in a late document production. The court ordered that Plaintiff could inquire at a 30(b)(6) deposition about Defendant’s IM usage, storage locations, deletion practices, and the existence of archives or backup tapes.

The court also granted Plaintiff’s motion to extend the discovery deadline so that Plaintiff could pursue the above topics in a 30(b)(6) deposition. The court also stated that it would allow Plaintiff to renew any of its motions after the deposition.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts

Did you know? Skype, the instant message and video chatting service owned by Microsoft, has 300 million users who spend about 2 billion minutes on IM daily.