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Northern District of Illinois Compels Atlas Van Lines to Produce Shipping Data in Usable Electronic Format

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Posted on November 16th, 2015

In Mervyn v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc. et. al., Case No. 13-3587 (N.D. Ill., Oct. 23, 2015), Plaintiff requested certain owner-operator lease agreements, called PVOs, from Defendants. Plaintiff also requested specific data related to a certain time period in “usable electronic format.” Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel, and the court entered an order directing the parties to hold an ESI liaison meeting to resolve the discovery issues. Defendants produced some PVOs in redacted form but objected to producing the remaining requested information, stating that they would have to spend two weeks writing and running a script to cull the additional data Plaintiff sought in his ESI request, which made the request outside of the scope of discovery. Plaintiff filed a second Motion to Compel.

The court compelled Defendants to produce all the PVOs in unredacted format. Regarding the ESI production, the court referred to the case of Gonzalez v. Google, 234 FRD 674 (N.D. Cal. 2006), in which the court concluded that “the technical burden of production did not excuse Google from complying with the subpoena.” The court also looked to Apple v. Samsung, 2013 WL 4426512 (N.D. Cal., August 14, 2013), in which the court stated that such a production would not be burdensome and that requiring a party to query a database is not the same thing as producing a “new document.” In this case, the court found, Defendants made no offers of alternative solutions and did not argue that the information sought was irrelevant (but rather that the discovery request would require them to create a new document rather than produce a document already in their custody and control). Further, as stated in Apple, writing and running the script did not constitute producing a “new document” and taking a week or two to do so was not an undue burden. The court found that Defendants would have to put in two weeks of actual work to find the information, and concluded that it was simply not unduly burdensome for them to do so. The court granted Plaintiff’s motion.

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