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Court Denies Request for ESI On Relevance Grounds

Posted on June 19th, 2015

In James W. Lillard v. University of Louisville, Case No. 11-CV-554, June 2, 2015, the District Court for the Western District of Kentucky held that although discovery may be broad, relevance must be a factor in requesting production of ESI and paper documents.

Plaintiff, a doctor engaged in cancer research, filed suit against Defendant for racial discrimination and retaliation. As a result of discovery disputes arising from spoliation allegations, the court ordered Defendant to produce non-privileged electronically stored information (ESI) and paper documents. Defendant filed a Motion to Modify the order to exclude certain items, including file servers and certain paper documents kept by Defendant’s cancer center as well as paper and electronically stored documents.

The court noted that in its motion, Defendant did not clarify why it wanted to exclude the particular documents, and that Plaintiff’s opposition did not mention the relevancy of the documents but rather only attacked Defendant’s arguments. The court stated that although discovery has a more liberal standard of relevance than required for admission at trial, it is not “a license to go fishing with the hope that something might be discovered”.

The court looked to the nature of the case to determine relevance. The court considered Plaintiff’s purpose in seeking each of Defendant’s servers, and concluded that two of the fifteen cancer center servers were relevant and that Plaintiff would need to show relevance for the others if it wanted them produced.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts

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