eDiscovery Daily Blog
Plaintiff Ordered to Make its Production Conform to Rule 34 – eDiscovery Case Law
In Venture Corp. Ltd. v. Barrett, 5:13-cv-03384-PSG (N.D. Cal. Oct. 16, 2014), California Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal ordered the plaintiffs to “(1) either organize and label each document it has produced or it shall provide custodial and other organizational information along the lines outlined above and (2) produce load files for its production containing searchable text and metadata” in order to conform to Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Procedure and meet their obligation.
Judge Grewal’s rulings have been frequently referenced on this blog, most notably the Apple v. Samsung case (here’s a reference to some of the posts we had related to this case). So, you have to love his opening to this ruling:
“Most lawyers (and hopefully judges) would be forgiven if they could not recite on demand some of the more obscure of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 80 (Stenographic Transcript as Evidence) and Rule 64 (Seizing a Person or Property) come to mind. But Rule 34 (Producing Documents, Electronically Stored Information, and Tangible Things) is about as basic to any civil case as it gets. And yet, over and over again, the undersigned is confronted with misapprehension of its standards and elements by even experienced counsel. Unfortunately, this case presents yet another example.
After Defendant James P. Barrett served initial document requests and Plaintiffs Venture Corporation Ltd. and Venture Design Services, Inc. responded, the parties met and conferred about how the Ventures would produce documents. So far, so good. But despite their best efforts, the parties could not agree. Barrett wanted the documents organized and labeled to identify the requests to which they were responsive. The Ventures demurred at such an obligation. What followed was a production of approximately 41,000 pages, even though there was nothing close to a meeting of the minds. Because this production did not square with the requirements of either Rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) or (ii), the Ventures shall try again, as explained below.”
In this patent dispute, the parties had a dispute regarding the plaintiff’s production, after which the plaintiff “proceeded to produce, on flash drive and by email, approximately 41,000 pages. The drive and email contained no custodial index, no table, no information at all—just folders of the files themselves.”
Judge Grewal stated, “Even in the days of paper measured by the carton and large, cold-storage warehouses, the document dump was recognized for what it was: at best inefficient and at worst a tactic to work over the requesting party. Rule 34 aims to prevent such a scenario with two specific and separate requirements…Rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) is plain: if documents are not organized and labeled to correspond to the categories in the request, they must be produced as they are kept in the usual course of business. The Ventures did not do this.”
As a result, Judge Grewal ordered the plaintiffs to “(1) either organize and label each document it has produced or it shall provide custodial and other organizational information along the lines outlined above and (2) produce load files for its production containing searchable text and metadata”. The defendant had also requested sanctions in the form of attorney’s fees and costs, but that request was denied by Judge Grewal.
So, what do you think? Was Judge Grewal correct to require the plaintiffs to label its production? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
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