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Archive for the ‘Cost Shifting’ Category

Case Blurb: Cason-Merenda; Cost-Shifting Motions Should be Brought before Production, not After

Posted by rjbiii on July 19, 2008

I am persuaded that the instant motion [to allocate 50% of Producing Party’s cost to Requesting Party] is untimely in two respects. First, the courts Scheduling Order of April 23, 2007 provides, in pertinent part, that “[a]ll motions … for protective orders … must be filed within 14 days of receipt or notice of such disputed discovery.” Second, the provisions of Fed.R .Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(B) and 26(c) plainly contemplate that a motion for protective relief (including cost shifting) is to be brought before the court in advance of the undue burden, cost or expense from which protection is sought.
[…]
The Rule [26(b)(2)(B)], if it is to be sensible and useful, must be read as a means of avoiding undue burden or cost, rather than simply distributing it. Indeed, Fed.R.Civ.P. 1 provides that the Rules are to be “construed and administered to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.” (Emphasis added).

This interpretation is further reinforced by Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) (2)(C)(iii) which provides that the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by the rules if it determines that “the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the party’s resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.” (Emphasis added). Again the clear objective is the avoidance of undue cost rather than merely the apportionment of it.
[…]
On the theory that the information in question was not inaccessible within the meaning of Rule 26(b), [Requesting Party] invokes the court’s broad authority to protect a party from “undue burden or expense” under Rule 26(c).
[…]
The rule provides, in pertinent part, that “[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from … undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:
(A) Forbidding the disclosure or discovery;
(B) Specifying terms, including time and place, for the disclosure or discovery;
(C) Prescribing a discovery method other than the one selected by the party seeking discovery;
(D) Forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of disclosure or discovery to certain matters;
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). The clear import of the language employed is that the court has wide discretion to prevent undue burden or expense.

Cason-Merenda v. Detroit Med. Ctr., 2008 WL 2714239 (E.D. Mich. July 7, 2008 )

Posted in 6th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Cost Shifting, E.D. Mich., Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer, Undue burden or cost | Leave a Comment »

AL Case Blurb: Cooper Tire and Rubber; Supreme Court Adopts Modified Zubulake Test for Cost Shifting Decisions

Posted by rjbiii on June 21, 2008

Post Process-This is a Case Blurb from the State of Alabama, whose laws regarding discovery will differ from those of the Federal Courts.

“First, under the marginal utility approach, the more likely it is that the search will discover critical information, the fairer it is to have the responding party search at its own expense. McPeek v. Ashcroft, 202 F.R.D. 31, 34 (D.D.C. 2001). Next, the court in Rowe created eight factors for consideration in the cost-shifting analysis, one of which incorporated the marginal utility test. 205 F.R.D. at 429. Finally, the court in Zubulake I modified the Rowe test to account for the fact that it interpreted the Rowe test as generally favoring cost-shifting, which had ignored the presumption that the responding party pays for discovery. 217 F.R.D. at 320. We agree with both the Rowe court and the Zubulake court that the marginal utility test is the most important factor. Furthermore, while we are guided by the remainder of the Rowe and Zubulake factors, we find that the proportionality test set forth in Rule 26(b)(2)(C)(iii)[, Fed.R.Civ.P.,] must shape the test. Thus, we modify the Zubulake rules by adding a factor that considers the importance of the requested discovery in resolving the issues of the litigation.

The eight factors are: (1) the specificity of the discovery requests; (2) the likelihood of discovering critical information; (3) the availability of such information from other sources; (4) the purposes for which the responding party maintains the requested data; (5) the relative benefit to the parties of obtaining the information; (6) the total cost associated with production; (7) the relative ability of each party to control costs and its incxentive to do so; and (8 ) the resources available to each party. Rowe, 205 F.R.D. at 429.

The seven Zubulake factors are (1) the extent to which the request is specifically tailored to discover relevant information; (2) the availability of such information from other sources; (3) the total cost of production, compared to the amount in controversy; (4) the total cost of production, compared to the resources available to each party; (5) the relative ability of each party to control costs and its incentive to do so; (6) the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation; and (7) the relative benefits to the parties of obtaining the information. 217 F.R.D. at 322. We agree with the court in Zubulake that the fourth Rowe factor (the purposes for which the responding party maintains the requested data) is not important.”

“Therefore, we will consider the following factors: 1) the likelihood of discovering critical information; 2) the availability of such information from other sources; 3) the amount in controversy as compared to the total cost of production; 4) the parties’ resources as compared to the total cost of production; 5) the relative ability of each party to control costs and its incentive to do so; 6) the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation; 7) the importance of the requested discovery in resolving the issues at stake in the litigation; and 8 ) the relative benefits to the parties of obtaining the information. At all times we keep in mind that because the presumption is that the responding party pays for discovery requests, the burden remains with [Producing Party] CBRE to demonstrate that costs should be shifted to [Requesting Party]. See Zubulake II, 216 F.R.D. at 283.

Ex parte Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., 2007 Ala. LEXIS 229, 41-44 (Ala. Oct. 26, 2007)

Posted in AL Sup. Ct. Justice Sue Bell Cobb, Alabama, Case Blurbs-AL, Cost of Discovery, Cost Shifting | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Perfect Barrier; “native” e-mail format production appropriate

Posted by rjbiii on June 17, 2008

[Producing Party] produced the emails in electronic form on an disc that is computer accessible. Such discovery is clearly considered electronic discovery. Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(E)(ii),
[i]f a request does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form or forms.
[Requesting Party] did not request that the emails be produced in a particular form, yet [Requesting Party] now asks this Court to force [Producing Party] to produce the electronic emails as Static Images with a bates-number identifier. [Producing Party] objects to this request because it would cost a substantial sum of money to convert the documents from the form in which the documents are normally kept, Native format, to Static Images.

[Producing Party] has already produced the emails on a disc in Native format. [Requesting Party] maintains the email documents in such a format. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34 only requires [them] to submit the emails in the format in which it keeps them, Native format, and nothing more. While it may be more convenient for [Requesting Party] to have the emails as Static Images, Fed.R.Civ.P. 34 does not provide that convenience is a basis for requiring electronic discovery to be produced in a different format than normally maintained. If [Requesting Party] wanted the emails as Static Images, it should have specified this request in its requests for production, which it did not do.

Furthermore, this Court finds that the emails produced on an electronic media such as disc is reasonably usable. [Requesting Party] can access, examine, and even print the communications. While [Requesting Party] may prefer to have them as Static Images, the burden to convert the emails to Static Images remains with [Requesting Party]. [Producing Party] complied with Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(E) and is required to do nothing more.

Perfect Barrier LLC v. Woodsmart Solutions Inc., 2008 WL 2230192 (N.D. Ind. May 27, 2008 )

Posted in 7th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Cost of Discovery, Cost Shifting, Discovery Requests, Duty to Produce, email, Form of Production, FRCP 34, FRCP 34(b), Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein, N.D. Ind. | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Benefirst; Good Cause Analysis-Seventh Factor

Posted by rjbiii on February 28, 2008

[Ed.-The court found that medical claim forms, requested by Plaintiff, would not be reasonably accessible. It then launched into an analysis to determine whether plaintiffs proved that “good cause” existed to compel production notwithstanding the accessibility issue. This blurb is from the analysis of seven factors. These are factors four and five: The likelihood of finding relevant, responsive information that cannot be obtained from other, more easily accessed sources; and Predictions as to the importance and usefulness of the further information;]

The parties resources.

While the Defendant has understandably engaged in a lengthy discussion of the cost of production, neither party has provided the court with any information about their resources. BeneFirst does represent that they no longer have a full time staff and that in order to retrieve the images that they would have to hire temporary help. At the same time, as previously noted, the Plaintiffs have significantly narrowed the breadth of their request and therefore, the time and cost for BeneFirst to produce the requested information should be significantly reduced.

Given the lack of information available to the Court, this factor is neutral.

W.E. Aubuchon Co., Inc. v. BeneFirst, LLC, 245 F.R.D. 38 (D. Mass. 2007)

Posted in 1st Circuit, Case Blurbs, Cost of Discovery, Cost Shifting, D. Mass., Discovery Requests, Document Retention, Duty to Disclose, Duty to Produce, FRCP 26(b), Good Cause, Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hillman | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Zubulake III; Presumptions and Standards for Cost-Shifting Arguments

Posted by rjbiii on September 27, 2007

Although “the presumption is that the responding party must bear the expense of complying with discovery requests,” requests that run afoul of the Rule 26(b)(2) proportionality test may subject the requesting party to protective orders under Rule 26(c), “including orders conditioning discovery on the requesting party’s payment of the costs of discovery.” A court will order such a cost-shifting protective order only upon motion of the responding party to a discovery request, and “for good cause shown.” Thus, the responding party has the burden of proof on a motion for cost-shifting. Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 216 F.R.D. 280, 283 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).

In Zubulake I, I considered plaintiff’s request for information contained only on backup tapes and determined that cost-shifting might be appropriate. It is worth emphasizing again that cost-shifting is potentially appropriate only when inaccessible data is sought. When a discovery request seeks accessible data-for example, active on-line or near-line data-it is typically inappropriate to consider cost-shifting. Id.

The seven factor test from Zubulake III was posted here.

Editor’s note: Although the Zubulake decisions were foundations for current e-discovery law, and are referred to more than ever, please keep in mind that they were made before the enactments of the new amendments to the FRCP. Although many of the interpretations laid out by Judge Schindlin in the Zubulake decisions were codified in these amendments, there may be some divergence. Further, statutes numbers may have changed (or they may not have). I encourage you to do your own due diligence with respect to any case blurbs posted on our site, but especially those made before the enactment of the amendments to the FRCP. Thanks.)

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Back Up Tapes, Case Blurbs, Cost Shifting, S.D.N.Y | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Zubulake I, A Hierarchy of Accessibility based on storage media

Posted by rjbiii on September 26, 2007

Many courts have automatically assumed that an undue burden or expense may arise simply because electronic evidence is involved. This makes no sense. Electronic evidence is frequently cheaper and easier to produce than paper evidence because it can be searched automatically, key words can be run for privilege checks, and the production can be made in electronic form obviating the need for mass photocopying. Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 217 F.R.D. 309, 318 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).

In fact, whether production of documents is unduly burdensome or expensive turns primarily on whether it is kept in an accessible or inaccessible format (a distinction that corresponds closely to the expense of production). In the world of paper documents, for example, a document is accessible if it is readily available in a usable format and reasonably indexed. Examples of inaccessible paper documents could include (a) documents in storage in a difficult to reach place; (b) documents converted to microfiche and not easily readable; or (c) documents kept haphazardly, with no indexing system, in quantities that make page-by-page searches impracticable. But in the world of electronic data, thanks to search engines, any data that is retained in a machine readable format is typically accessible. Id. (citations omitted).

Whether electronic data is accessible or inaccessible turns largely on the media on which it is stored. Five categories of data, listed in order from most accessible to least accessible, are described in the literature on electronic data storage:

1. Active, online data: “On-line storage is generally provided by magnetic disk. It is used in the very active stages of an electronic records [sic] life-when it is being created or received and processed, as well as when the access frequency is high and the required speed of access is very fast, i.e., milliseconds.” Id. (citations omitted).

2. Near-line data: “This typically consists of a robotic storage device (robotic library) that houses removable media, uses robotic arms to access the media, and uses multiple read/write devices to store and retrieve records. Access speeds can range from as low as milliseconds if the media is already in a read device, up to 10-30 seconds for optical disk technology, and between 20-120 seconds for sequentially searched media, such as magnetic tape.” Id. at 319 (citations omitted).

3. Offline storage/archives: “This is removable optical disk or magnetic tape media, which can be labeled and stored in a shelf or rack. Off-line storage of electronic records is traditionally used for making disaster copies of records and also for records considered ‘archival’ in that their likelihood of retrieval is minimal. Accessibility to off-line media involves manual intervention and is much slower than on-line or near-line storage. Access speed may be minutes, hours, or even days, depending on the access-effectiveness of the storage facility.” The principled difference between nearline data and offline data is that offline data lacks “the coordinated control of an intelligent disk subsystem,” and is, in the lingo, JBOD (“Just a Bunch Of Disks”). Id. (citations omitted).

4. Backup tapes: “A device, like a tape recorder, that reads data from and writes it onto a tape. Tape drives have data capacities of anywhere from a few hundred kilobytes to several gigabytes. Their transfer speeds also vary considerably … The disadvantage of tape drives is that they are sequential-access devices, which means that to read any particular block of data, you need to read all the preceding blocks.” As a result, “[t]he data on a backup tape are not organized for retrieval of individual documents or files [because] … the organization of the data mirrors the computer’s structure, not the human records management structure.” Backup tapes also typically employ some sort of data compression, permitting more data to be stored on each tape, but also making restoration more time-consuming and expensive, especially given the lack of uniform standard governing data compression. Id. (citations omitted).

5. Erased, fragmented or damaged data: “When a file is first created and saved, it is laid down on the [storage media] in contiguous clusters … As files are erased, their clusters are made available again as free space. Eventually, some newly created files become larger than the remaining contiguous free space. These files are then broken up and randomly placed throughout the disk.” Such broken-up files are said to be “fragmented,” and along with damaged and erased data can only be accessed after significant processing. Id. (citations omitted).

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Case Blurbs, Cost Shifting, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, S.D.N.Y | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Zubulake I; Initial considerations of cost-shifting

Posted by rjbiii on September 26, 2007

Courts must remember that cost-shifting may effectively end discovery, especially when private parties are engaged in litigation with large corporations. As large companies increasingly move to entirely paper-free environments, the frequent use of cost-shifting will have the effect of crippling discovery in discrimination and retaliation cases. This will both undermine the “strong public policy favor[ing] resolving disputes on their merits,” and may ultimately deter the filing of potentially meritorious claims. Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 217 F.R.D. 309, 317-18 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (quoting Pecarsky v. Galaxiworld.com, Inc., 249 F.3d 167, 172 (2d Cir.2001)).

Thus, cost-shifting should be considered only when electronic discovery imposes an “undue burden or expense” on the responding party. The burden or expense of discovery is, in turn, “undue” when it “outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation, and the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues.” Id. (citations omitted).

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Case Blurbs, Cost Shifting, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, S.D.N.Y | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

ESI Tests: The Seven Factor Zubalake Test for Cost Shifting

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

Seven Factor Zubulake (Zubulake I, 217 F.R.D. at 322) Test for the cost of producing data from inaccessible sources (an adaptation of the Rowe Test); factors are listed in descending order of importance:

  • The extent to which the request is specifically tailored to discover relevant information;
  • The availability of such information from other sources;
  • The total costs of production compared to the amount in controversy;
  • The total costs of production, compared to the resources available to each party;
  • The relative ability of each party to control costs and its incentive to do so;
  • The importance of the issues at stake in the litigation; and
  • The relative benefits to the parties of obtaining the information.

Application of Seven Factor Test:
The initial question is whether it is appropriate to shift the costs of electronic document production. Quinby v. WESTLB AG, 2006 WL 2597900 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
When combined, the first two factors are known as the “marginal utility test.” Id. (citing Zubulake III, 216 F.R.D. at 284).
The more likely it is that the backup tape contains information that is relevant to a claim or defense, the fairer it is that the [responding party] search at its own expense. The less likely it is, the more unjust it would be to make the [responding party] search at its own expense. The difference is at the margin.

If the information is available from another source, the marginal utility from the e-discovery is low, and would support cost-shifting. Id.

Application of the first Zubulake factor: The extent to which the request is specifically tailored to discover relevant information.

Π argues that because the court engaged in the “pairing down” process, the document request, as modified by the court, was per se specifically tailored to discover relevant information. The court disagreed. A court may limit the scope of discovery in several ways. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(b)(2) permits the court to limit discovery if the burden or expense of production outweighs its potential benefits, and R. 26(c) permits the issueance of protective orders, including by shifting the costs of unduly burdensome or expensive production. Narrowing a document request pursuant to Rule 26(b)(2) does not preclude the Court from also granting a protective order in the form of cost-shifting for those documents that were ordered to be produced. Id. (citing Zubulake III, 216 F.R.D. at 283).
Even where cost-shifting is granted, the Δ must still pay for the majority of the production b/c of the presumption that the responding party pays for its discovery costs. Id. (citing Wiginton v. CB Richard Ellis, Inc., 229 F.R.D. at 577).
In addition, shifting a share that is too costly may chill the rights of litigants to pursue meritorious claims. Id. (citing Zublake III, 216 F.R.D. 289).

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Back Up Tapes, Cost Shifting, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, Marginal Utility Test, S.D.N.Y, Undue burden or cost | 1 Comment »

Case Blurb: WESTLB AG; Who bears the cost of production?

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

There is a presumption “the responding party must bear the expense of complying with discovery requests.” Quinby v. WESTLB AG, 2006 WL 2597900 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (citing Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 358 (1978)).
Under Rule 26(c), a district court may issue an order protecting the responding party from undue burden or expense by “conditioning discovery on the requesting party’s payment of the costs of discovery.” Id.
Such an order may be granted only on the motion of the responding party and “for good cause shown.” Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(c)).
The Responding party has the burden of proof on a motion for cost-shifting. Id. (citing Zubulake I, 217 F.R.D. at 318).

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Case Blurbs, Cost Shifting, FRCP 26(c), Good Cause, S.D.N.Y, Undue burden or cost | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: WestLB AG; Back up tapes an inaccessible format; cost shifting a consideration

Posted by rjbiii on August 28, 2007

[D]ata that is accessible is stored in a readily usable format that does [not?] need to be restored or otherwise manipulated to be usable. Conversely, data that is inaccessible is not readily useable and must be restored to an accessible state before the data is usable. Backup tapes are considered an inaccessible format, and, thus, shifting the costs of producing data from backup tapes may be considered. Quinby v. WESTLB AG, 2006 WL 2597900 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (citing Zubulake I, 217 F.R.D. at 320).

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Back Up Tapes, Case Blurbs, Cost Shifting, S.D.N.Y | Leave a Comment »