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Court Takes Step Back from Overbroad Social Media eDiscovery Requests in Favor of Plaintiff

Posted on October 3rd, 2012

In Mailhoit v. Home Depot U.S.A., 2012 WL 3939063 (C.D. Cal.), plaintiff filed an employment discrimination against the home improvement store, alleging to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and isolation due to the defendant’s wrongdoing.

Defendant Home Depot argued that plaintiff’s postings on social networking sites (“SNS”) were likely to contain relevant information to test plaintiff’s claims about her mental and emotional state.   Defendant broadly requested:

  1. Social media profiles, updates, comments from the start of the alleged discrimination date through the present, that refer or reveal any emotional or mental state by the plaintiff;
  2. Third party communications that put her statements into context;
  3. Any social network communications between plaintiff and any employee of Home Depot or communication referring to Home Depot or the lawsuit; and
  4. Pictures, both posted and tagged to the profile during the relevant time period.

The plaintiff countered that the requests were overbroad and burdensome. The Court denied defendant’s motion with regards to categories 1, 2 and 4, holding that Home Depot failed to satisfy Rule 34(b)(1)(A)’s “reasonable particularity” requirement, and that the requests were “not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Id. at 3.  Notably, although categories 1, 2 and 4 were modeled after the categories of SNS communications ordered produced by the Indiana federal district court in EEOC v. Simply Storage Management, LLC Case No. 1:09-cv-1223-WTL-DML (2010) (which case we have blogged about previously), the court this case declined to compel responses to the discovery finding that the requests in Simply Storage, in its view, failed to comply with the “reasonable particularity” requirements of Rule 34(b)(1)(A).

ILS – Plaintiff eDiscovery Firm

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