After three years of acceptance of pdf, plaintiff cannot obtain production in native format

UnknownOn June 14, 2016, the Rhode Island District Court applied the newly amended FRCP to ensure proportional discovery and limit Parties’ discovery motions.

In this intellectual property action, the Court had to determine when the fact discovery phase should end and what discovery had to be completed before it did. In particular, Defendant sought to compel discovery of ESI in its native format with metadata.

The litigation was carried out over three and one-half years. The court extended the close of fact discovery five times. At the end of the fifth extension, the Parties began objecting to new extensions to discovery, arguing prejudice from the delays and sometimes focusing on the lack of proportionality of the discovery sought. Throughout the case, Plaintiffs supplied ESI in PDF format without objections from Defendant until the close of discovery when Defendant asked the Court to order that Plaintiffs go back to the database from which the documents were extracted and “produce them again, this time, in native format with all metadata intact”.

The Court noted that Defendant never took advantage of FRCP 34(b) and 26(f) to specify production format. Instead, it urged the Court to rely upon the Sedona Principles.

However, considering the length of the case and the lack of “substantial need or justification”, the Court relied on the newly amended FRCP to only allow very limited metadata discovery. In making its determination, the Court  explained that its “task is to keep the cases rolling forward, steady and true, on the discovery road mapped by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1)” To this aim, the Court limited discovery to what is “proportional to the needs of the case… to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action”.

Wai Feng Trading Co. v. Quick Fitting, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77672 (D.R.I. June 14, 2016) is available at http://www.rid.uscourts.gov…                                              Open PDF 

For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

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