Missouri District Judge Upholds Ruling Requiring List of Data Fields in Class Action Suit

23 May 2016

LaBrier v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, Case No. 15-04093 (W.D. Mo., May 9, 2016), a class action lawsuit, was removed to federal court after submitting a certification from an employee stating that he used data from Defendant and from Xactware Solutions to calculate the size of the class and alleged damages. During discovery, Plaintiff served Defendant with multiple discovery requests related to Defendant’s data on the putative class members and damages.

Plaintiff proposed that Defendant provide a list of all the data fields that were available in the databases, including a list of fields for Defendant’s internal claims payment data; Defendant refused. Plaintiff deposed another of Defendant’s employees, a software engineer who testified that Defendant maintained such a list. Plaintiff also deposed an employee of Xactware, a developer, who also testified that he maintained such a list and had done so in the past to retrieve “class-wide data” in other class actions. Plaintiff advised the Special Master at the Court that she sought these lists, and Defendant objected. The Special Master ruled that Defendant answer interrogatories related to the information as well as its affirmative defenses. Defendant sought reversal of the Special Master’s decision from the District Judge.

Defendant argued that it could not answer the interrogatories without “complex inquiries in multiple databases.” The court found it “incredible” that Defendant could find no cost-effective way to match up the information in the databases. The court noted that it would likely require programming not normally done by Defendant, but it pointed out that Defendant insisted upon keeping its databases secret, it should bear the cost. The software engineer and the developer deposed by Plaintiff had no trouble accessing the information and did not testify about any burden in doing so. Therefore, the court upheld the Special Master’s ruling.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts