Chancery Court Bucks Trend, Only Allows Specific Electronic Formats Based on Need
In a Chancery Court case entitled The Ravenswood Investment Company, L.P. v. Winmill, C.A. No. 3730-VCN (Ct. Chan. DE Nov. 27, 2013), Plaintiff Ravenswood was not satisfied with the very limited number of documents produced by defendant Winmill. However, no evidence was offered to show Winmill was withholding any specific information. Even the court was suspicious noting that even small companies usually produce more than Winmill. Ravenswood also complained that a business located in the same space and sharing ownership with Winmill should be included in the production. The court agreed that the documents might be relevant, but stated the discovery request must go to the business.
Most significantly, Ravenswood asked that electronic documents be produced in native file format, though offered no reason for the request. Ravenswood relied on an assertion that the Chancery Court required no reasoning for a native file format request. The court disagree, citing to Kinexus Representative LLC v. Advent Software, Inc., 2008 WL 4379607 (Del. Ch. Sept. 22, 2008), which “decline[d] to hold that the Court of Chancery Rules governing document production in 2005 required an OCR format or native file format, including metadata, without a particularized showing of need.”
Barring a demonstration of need, the court refused plaintiff’s request for native file formats. This case is a departure from most recent case law allowing native format requests without a showing of need, but the difference might be explained by the particular nature of the Chancery Court and its rules.