The Simplified
E-⁠Discovery Case Law Library
A collection of simple, easy to understand analyses and resources on e-⁠discovery case law.
Case shelved under Reasonableness

Expensive Production Request Deemed “Costly Fishing Expedition"

Pentel v. Shephard
D. Minn. August 8, 2019
Why This Case Is Important

If you’re trying to get the court to compel production of data from your opponent, it is important to be specific about which requests they have failed to comply with, and why the requested information is relevant and proportional.

Overview:

In this class-action privacy lawsuit, the plaintiffs sought to compel a non-party to produce information that would showcase what specific private data was improperly accessed by the defendants. In addition, the plaintiffs asked the defendants to review that data for responsiveness.

The non-party rejected to producing the requested information because it would be “unduly burdensome because of the volume of responsive information and the amount of redaction required to remove ‘sensitive data.’” The non-party estimated that 306,600 pages would need to be reviewed, costing up to $190,000.

The plaintiffs claim that these requested documents are “essential” to the case.

Ruling:
  • Motion to Compel Production Denied. Based on the “massive burden” to the non-party and the defendants, the court ruled that the motion to compel was “not proportional to the needs of this case.”
  • “Costly Fishing Expedition.” Even if the requested data was collected and reviewed, the plaintiffs would not be able to decipher if the data was accessed improperly. Because of this, the court ruled that the plaintiffs were “not well-positioned to speculate” the defendants’ motive and thus found the request overly burdensome.
Download case law PDF

Download the PDF version of Pental v. Shephard case law alert here.

Legal Analysis
On Pentel v. Shephard
Hon. Andrew Peck (Ret.), Sr. Counsel, DLA Piper
BY
Hon. Andrew Peck (Ret.), Sr. Counsel, DLA Piper

The non-party made a specific showing, based on prior experience and a sampling exercise, as to the cost of complying with the request, the difficulty even beyond cost, and that even if the data were produced, it would not answer the requesting party’s issue as to whether access had been for a permissible or impermissible purpose. That type of information, as opposed to generalized claims of “burden,” is crucial to present to the court. The court also relied on Rule 45’s requirement to avoid imposing an undue burden on a non-party.

Judge Peck's Bio
relevant resource
When it comes to preserving electronic information, just remember to be reasonable. See what reasonable means by reading this:
E-Book
FRCP & E-DISCOVERY: The Layman's Guide PDF
FRCP & E-DISCOVERY: The Layman's Guide PDF
download now
return to case law library
Reasonableness room