Under the FRCP, a party has the duty to conduct a reasonable inquiry to find responsive data in e-discovery. If you fail to take this duty seriously, the court will ask you to go back and do it again, and you may be forced to pay opposing party costs in seeking compliance.
In this breach of contract case, the plaintiff moved to compel document and metadata production based on irregularities and inconsistencies in the original production that raised doubts about whether the defendant’s original search for responsive data was reasonable and sufficient.
During discovery, the plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to include all relevant metadata and, in some cases, produced incorrect metadata. The defendant argued that producing some documents in PDF form was adequate, since the documents were maintained as PDFs during the ordinary course of business.
Additionally, the plaintiff argued that the defendant failed to produce some responsive emails. The defendant claimed that the request for these documents was overly burdensome, and that the plaintiff had access to these documents outside the discovery process.
The two sides tried numerous times to meet and confer without any success at resolving this issue. Based on this disagreement, the plaintiff filed their motion to compel production.
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Courts strongly prefer for parties to cooperate in discovery. When a party is deemed to have fallen short, Judges will order compliance and may award fees. This opinion also reminds that discovery objections, including burdensomeness and lack of relevance, must be raised in initial discovery responses or will be waived.