Defendants Fail to Specify Formatting for Plaintiff ESI; Subsequent Complaints “Unavailing”
When a party seeks electronic discovery production in specific formatting and/or with metadata, that party would be wise to specify such logistics at the outset when sending out requests. In a recent example where the defendants failed to specify formatting logistics from the plaintiff ESI production, see XL Specialty Insurance Col. v. Bollinger Shipyards, Inc. et al., Civil Action No. 12-2071 (E.D.La. January 27, 2014).
In this case, defendants sent plaintiff ESI requests without any specification as to the formatting. The plaintiffs therefore produced its electronically stored information via a database of 808,000 documents; it had over 4 million individual pages and was marked with 197 Bates stamp identifications. Defendants then came to the court to complain that the database was not produced in native file format with metadata.
The court rejected defendant’s complaint: “Because [defendant] failed to make any Rule 34(b)(2)(B) ESI specification, [plaintiff] was required only to ‘produce documents as they are kept in the ordinary course of business or…organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request…’ and as to ESI to “produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably useable form or forms…” The court held that plaintiff, for the most part, complied with the rule.
Although the production contained Bates stamps, the defendant had complained the Bates ranges were undefined. Therefore, regarding the logistics of production, the court ordered plaintiff to supplement the discovery with the meaning of the document naming and numbering system used to organize the production.