N.Y. District Court Compels ESI Production re Workforce Reduction After Denying Other Requests to Expand Discovery
In Blodgett et. al. v. Siemens Industry, Inc., Case NO. 13-3194 (E.D. N.Y., Aug. 9, 2016), Plaintiffs sued Defendant because Defendant allegedly promised them continued employment and then terminated their jobs in April 2013. After discovery disputes, the court ordered Defendant to produce certain additional electronically stored information (ESI) from previously agreed-upon custodians, plus two additional custodians, for March 2012 to September 2012. In a follow up conference call, Plaintiffs’ counsel represented to the court that he believed Defendant was wrongfully withholding documents from its ESI production; the court ordered the parties to meet and confer, giving Plaintiffs a deadline to seek court intervention. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to compel, which the court denied. Plaintiffs renewed the Motion, and Defendant objected, arguing that the documents sought were outside the scope of the parties’ agreement with respect to the production of ESI.
In the renewed motion, Plaintiffs sought production of certain emails that it claimed were relevant. Defendant argued that it had performed searches and produced all relevant documents, but Plaintiff advocated that a new three-month period be added to the existing search time range. The court noted that responding to the request would require Defendant to perform an all-new search for seven different custodians within the new time period, and that Plaintiffs’ reasons for needing this information were not supported. Plaintiffs also sought emails related to the rejection of a proposal for an additional sales manager position, based upon testimony at a deposition. The court found that the deposition testimony did not support the need for further discovery, and denied that request as well.
A third request in Plaintiffs’ motion was for production of all documents related to “Project Merlin,” a division-wide “headcount” plan. Plaintiffs contended that Project Merlin specifically addressed their claims, and that the Defendants had not yet produced any documentation about this project. The court determined that Project Merlin was “an overarching reduction-in-force” and found that the request could be granted if narrowed to documents regarding the particular reduction-in-force resulting in Plaintiffs’ termination.