Plaintiffs Defeat Efforts to Limit Custodians and Search Terms

1 Dec 2014

The Plaintiffs in A&R Body Specialty and Collision Works v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, Civ. No. 3:07CV929 (WWE) (D.Conn. November 19, 2014) recently learned an important lesson in terms of when an electronically stored information dispute warrants a court’s intervention.

Plaintiffs had sought supplemental discovery from defendants after receiving a disappointing initial document production.  Plaintiffs requested that Defendants supplement their production with documents produced from a broad list of email custodians, based on searching for over 100 different search terms. Defendants resisted, and after several meet and confers, Plaintiffs agreed to reduce their custodian list to just 12 custodians.  Despite the reduction, Defendants still objected to the list of custodians and the search terms, claiming that they would result in a duplicative, overly broad, and burdensome production.  Defendants wanted to limit the number of custodians to just two, and to search the emails of those two custodians for just 15 search terms.  Plaintiffs concluded—and rightly so—that they needed to take Defendants’ unreasonable position to the court.

The court held that Defendants’ position that they would produce documents from just two custodians was “far too limited,” and concluded that Defendants had failed to demonstrate how production from Plaintiffs’ 12 proposed email custodians would produce duplicative information. The court expressed concern that limiting the custodians as Defendants had proposed would force Plaintiffs to file additional supplemental requests in the future, leading to unnecessary motion practice. Accordingly, the court ordered production from Plaintiffs’ proposed custodian list.  With respect to the search term dispute, because the parties were so far apart in number of search terms, the court ordered that the parties further meet and confer to reach an agreement in keeping with the court’s order on email custodians.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts