eDiscovery Daily Blog
Court Resolves Dispute Over Scope of Databases and Searches to be Performed: eDiscovery Case Law
After a week of reviewing previous cases we’ve covered this year with a couple of pop quizzes, we’re back in the saddle covering new cases…
In Willett, et al. v. Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-1241-JCH/LAM (D.N.M. May 8, 2015), New Mexico District Judge Lourdes A. Martinez ordered the defendants to produce a spreadsheet referred of file folders, with information for the files on their virtual server(s), the plaintiffs to provide the defendant with a reasonable list of search terms, limited to the relevant time frame, parties, and issues of this case and for the defendants to perform the searches specified by the plaintiffs within ten days of receiving the searches.
In this class action case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants engaged in nonconsensual automated calls to the plaintiffs on their cellular telephones in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in order to collect fines imposed by the City of Albuquerque for traffic violations and submitted requests for admission (RFAs) to the defendants to ask them to admit that they obtained the telephone numbers for specific plaintiffs from a skip tracing service. As for the plaintiffs’ document requests, the defendants produced an initial set of 19,000 Bates-labeled pages of documents in response to those requests, but the plaintiffs argued that the production was inadequate and moved to compel a larger production. In turn, the defendants filed their own motion, opposing the plaintiffs’ motion, arguing that the plaintiffs had refused to engage in a search term discussion regarding its database, which contained 1.6 terabytes of data.
The defendants also noted that the cost of processing their entire virtual server to enable more targeted searches would cost between $100,000 and $160,000, but if the parties were to agree to limit the data to be processed, such as by file type, keywords, and creation dates, the defendants might be able to perform those searches at a reasonable cost; otherwise, the cost could be shifted to the plaintiffs or split between the parties.
With regard to the defendants’ objections to the plaintiffs’ requests for admission, Judge Martinez found that “Defendants’ objections are without merit and should be overruled” and stated that “Defendants’ use of boilerplate, blanket objections are improper” and that the defendants’ “objections that these RFAs do not relate to the parties in this case are especially baffling since the requests specifically name the three Plaintiffs”.
As for the document requests, Judge Martinez ruled that she would “not order CWGP and Credit Control to conduct a search of the entire virtual server because it does not appear that that conducting a search of the entire 1.6 terabytes of data in the virtual server at a cost of $100,000 to $160,000 would be proportional to the likely benefit of such a search”. She also found that “limiting the search of the virtual server by file type, keywords, and creation dates, is a reasonable solution”. As a result, Judge Martinez ordered the defendants to produce a spreadsheet referred of file folders, with information for the files on their virtual server(s), the plaintiffs to provide the defendant with a reasonable list of search terms, limited to the relevant time frame, parties, and issues of this case and for the defendants to perform the searches specified by the plaintiffs within ten days of receiving the searches.
So, what do you think? Was the judge’s decision a reasonable compromise regarding the parties’ search disputes? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
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