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E-⁠Discovery Case Law Library
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Case shelved under Reasonableness

“Classic Document Dump” Warrants Sanctions, Maybe Future Dismissal

Applied Underwriters, Inc. v. American Employer Group
E.D. Tenn. May 2, 2016
Why This Case is Important:

Aversive discovery techniques that are used to confuse, slow down or create unnecessary work will not be tolerated by the court and could lead to case dismissal.

Overview

In this case, the defendant moved for sanctions based on the plaintiff's alleged “document dump" on the defendant. Specifically, the defendant contended that the plaintiff failed to follow the court's discovery order which included not using mutually agreed on search terms, failing to search all relevant computer systems, and producing documents in an “unclear" and “out of order" manner. The plaintiff argued that meeting the discovery plan's requirements would be “extremely costly" and that the defendant was not prejudiced by the document production.

Ruling
  • Second Chances Given but Sanctions Ordered. The court granted defendant's motion for sanctions based on the plaintiff's repeated failure to comply with the court's discovery order. Two production extensions were given to the plaintiff, but still the plaintiff never produced in accordance with the agreed on discovery order.
  • No Case Dismissal for Now. Rule 37(b)(2)(A) provides specific measures when a party fails to obey an order to provide or permit sanctions. The court ordered the plaintiff to pay attorney's fees associated with bringing the motion and for conducting additional discovery.
  • Additional Discovery Failures may lead to Dismissal. The court did note that if the plaintiff has any future discovery failures “that approach the magnitude of the previous failures" it may lead to a case dismissal verdict.

Case Law Tip: Negotiate e-discovery orders with opposing counsel that utilize a phased e-discovery approach. Not only will this reduce costs, it will prevent the classic “document dump." Download this white paper on Phased E-Discovery Now.

Download Case Law Analysis PDF

Download the PDF version of the Applied Underwriters, Inc. v. American Employer Group case law analysis here.

relevant resources
Resource related to managing large volumes of corporate data and avoiding "document dumps."
White Paper
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Phased E-Discovery: How Tiering Collections Reduces Legal Costs
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Webcast
Managing Large Volumes of Corporate Data
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