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Can Defendants Produce Non-Searchable PDFs Rather than Native File Formatting?

Posted on July 14th, 2014

In Dixon v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc. and Green Tree Servicing, LLC (N.D. Ind. June 25, 2014), Plaintiff alleged Defendants reported inaccurate information in his credit file about his mortgage account in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et al., the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

Plaintiff eDiscovery requests were served upon on Defendant, who produced 966 pages of documents in unsearchable PDF formatting. Defendants claimed what they produced was the only relevant, responsive documents. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel, seeking:

1. All ESI in native file format, which was requested but not objected to, and not tendered in the defense production. Plaintiff argued the defense kept the ESI in the usual course of business in electronic searchable form, but converted it to non-searchable PDF paper documents for the production.

2. A search and production of all email communications. Plaintiff alleged internal email communications would shed light on policies regarding reporting information on credit reports to show whether the reporting done was reasonably. Although Defendants claimed no relevant email chains existed, they admitted they never even ran a search.

3. To overrule Defendant’s objections to the discovery that stated requests for data regarding § 1681(g) was an irrelevant claim, and therefore the ESI request was overly broad and burdensome.

The court agreed the ESI should be produced in native file format, as originally requested by Plaintiff; the court agreed that an email search for relevant data must be done. The court held Plaintiff’s  §1681(g) claim was relevant and therefore, Defendants can file an amended response with this in mind to object to the specific requests.

ILS – Plaintiff eDiscovery Experts

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