Winning a motion to compel additional discovery starts with crafting a narrowly tailored request with a reasonable justification. Without those two important components, you’ll likely lose.
In this unfair trade practices case, the plaintiffs renewed their motion to compel the defendants to conduct additional searches for relevant information. The defendants argued that this request would be disproportionate to the needs of the case.
The plaintiff had previously filed a motion to compel which sought an order for the defendants to respond to multiple interrogatories about the defendants’ discovery procedures. Within a status conference, the court ruled that a 30(b)(6) deposition would help clarify and answer the plaintiffs’ questions.
Unsatisfied with the responses given in the 30(b)(6) deposition, the plaintiffs claim that the witness’s responses were “incomplete and inaccurate” leading to a “flawed list of custodians,” resulting in a “flawed electronic search for documents.” Alternatively, the defendants argued that a reasonable search for relevant data was conducted and any subsequent searches were not necessary under Rule 26(b)(1).
Motion to Compel Denied. The court ruled that the plaintiff never explained why the initial set of discovery terms was unreasonable, didn’t specify what additional custodians needed to be searched, and offered an unreasonable alternative measure for subsequent discovery activities.
No Going Back to “Square One.” The plaintiffs requested permission to email all the defendants’ employees to see if they had “knowledge relevant to this litigation.” The court ruled that this request was “simply unreasonable” because it was a request for the defendants to “go back to square one” even though discovery parameters were already agreed upon.
Unduly Burdensome Under Rule 26(b)(1). Since the defendants are open to discussing adding additional specific custodians and search terms, the plaintiffs’ request for “such a large-scale search raises proportionality concerns” and “would be unduly burdensome” for the defendants.
Download the PDF version of Firefighters Retirement System v. Citco Group Limited case analysis here.
Cooperation and reasonableness are still the gold standard when it comes to discovery disputes. This case may have turned out differently if the plaintiff had just identified a few additional custodians and search terms, and provided a basis for these additions. The defendants were willing to supplement their production if there was a basis for doing so, but plaintiffs refused to meet them halfway. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.