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Court Orders Defendant to Produce Metadata for Previously Produced Emails: eDiscovery Case Law

In Prezio Health, Inc. v. Schenk, et. al., No. 13-1463 (D. Conn., Sept. 9, 2015), after “a careful in camera review” of emails responsive to eighteen keyword search terms, Connecticut Magistrate Judge Joan Glazer Margolis ordered the defendant to produce metadata for eight specific emails which had already been produced to the plaintiff.

Case Background

In this dispute over a non-compete provision, the plaintiff provided a list of 18 search terms to be used in searching the defendants’ computers for emails sent and received by the individual defendant during an 8 month period in 2013. When the defendants produced no documents in response to the search request, the plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel, requesting that the defendants produce all computers or hard drives in their possession on which the individual defendant might have sent or received emails during the relevant timeframe.

In their brief in opposition, the defendants argued, inter alia, that defense counsel had conducted a search of the eighteen search terms and would produce all non-privileged documents that relate to the individual defendant’s employment with either plaintiff or the defendant company, all of which probably were previously produced in this litigation.  The defendants also suggested that they conduct a search of the individual defendant’s email account in an in camera setting for the Court.  In its reply brief, plaintiff countered, inter alia, that it was still entitled to the metadata from these documents.  Per their suggestion, in August, the court ordered the defendants to produce the items responsive to the eighteen search terms for in camera review, and both parties produced emails for the in camera review.

Judge’s Ruling

Regarding the plaintiff’s request for metadata, Judge Margolis stated: “After a careful in camera review, plaintiff is entitled to the metadata for the following eight emails: the two May 6, 2013 emails; the May 13, 2013 email; the two June 6, 2013 emails; the two October 16, 2012 emails; and the December 13, 2012 email. Unless counsel agree otherwise, defense counsel shall make the necessary arrangements and plaintiff promptly shall reimburse defendants for any expenses borne as a result.”

Judge Margolis also stated that “[t]his is not a Recommended Ruling, but a ruling on a non-dispositive motion… As such, it is an order of the Court unless reversed or modified by the District Judge upon timely made objection.”

So, what do you think?  Was an in camera review the best way to rule on the request for metadata?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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