Court Orders Production of Altered Email in Native Format
Lifetouch National School Studios, Inc. v. Roles, Case No. 15-234 (W.D. P.A., Dec. 15, 2016) is a breach of contract case stemming from an employment contract between Plaintiff employer and Defendant former employee. Defendant former employee was accused of breaches of her employment agreement by skimming money off of the projects she worked on, as well as breaches of the noncompete and nonsolicitation clauses from her acceptance of a position with a competitor, Strawbridge. Plaintiff filed counterclaims. During discovery, Plaintiff received two versions of an email chain – one received by a client and the other received by Strawbridge. One email included her name; the other did not. The individuals who wrote the emails testified under oath that they did not include her name when they wrote the emails. Defendant alleged that the Strawbridge email was altered by Plaintiff to interfere with her employment at Strawbridge, and so Defendant requsted that she be able to amend her counterclaims. The court granted her request.
Defendant then filed a Motion to Compel, which the court found uncertain. After Plaintiff filed its opposition to the motion, Defendant was more clear in her reply, stating that she wanted Plaintiff to produce the email in question in native format from all individuals employed at Plaintiff to whom it was forwarded or sent.
The court found that data regarding the specific, allegedly altered email in native format was relevant. The court also found that, although Plaintiff argued that it already produced information about the emails and that a copy of the email in native format is unreasonable and unlikely to lead to admissible evidence, Plaintiff had to produce the information. The court noted that native format was not unreasonable, as the parties had agreed to produce ESI in native format in their Rule 26(f) report. The court also awarded Defendant her partial attorneys’ fees.