Court Refuses to “Do Defendant’s Work For It” in Email Metadata Dispute
In Marcantonio v. Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC, Case No. 14-03313 (D. Colo., Aug. 25, 2015), Plaintiff sued Defendant, her former employer, over her termination. Defendant demanded production and inspection of metadata related to emails that Plaintiff had produced in hard copy, ostensibly from her personal computer. Plaintiff objected, stating that she did not have a personal computer during the relevant time period and that Defendant had requested the information only to harass her.
The District of Colorado agreed that Defendant had offered no legitimate basis for inspecting Plaintiff’s computer and had cited no applicable case law to support its position that it should be entitled to review it. While the court agreed that Plaintiff had made contradictory statements about whether she actually had a personal computer during the relevant time period, the court concluded that Defendant had failed to effectively raise these contradictions or make any other attempt to “unravel the mystery.” The court concluded that it would not “do Defendant’s work for it.” Finally, the court held that Defendant had produced no evidence and made no argument about why it needed the metadata in the email. Accordingly, the court denied Defendant’s Motion, stating that Defendant’s request seemed to be simply an impermissible to “snoop” on Plaintiff.
The court’s opinion underscores the importance of seeking ESI in its native file format at the outset of a case. Had Defendant done so here, Plaintiff would likely not have produced in hard copy in the first place, and the parties could have avoided the motion practice.