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Case Summary: Benton v. Dlorah, Inc., 2007 WL 2225946 (D. Kan. Aug. 1, 2007); Court denies motion to compel production of hard drive

Posted by rjbiii on September 26, 2007

In this employment discrimination case, Magistrate Judge Gerald Rushfelt denied defendant’s request to compel the plaintiff to “produce the hard drive of her personal computer for inspection and copying.” In response to defendants’ discovery requests, some of which sought correspondence between plaintiff and defendant National American University or her students at the university, plaintiff produced one e-mail. After defendant informed plaintiff that it believed her responses to the discovery requests were deficient, and after agreeing to supplement those responses, Ms. Benton declared that all e-mails from her students had been deleted, and therefore could not produced. She also resisted producing her hard drive, as requested by defendants.

Defendants argued that Ms. Benton failed to “produce[] any e-mail communications that took place after February 2007,” and that they believe she had been deleting those emails relating to her employment since that date. Defendants contended that because Ms. Benton had admitted to deleting some emails, and because she had only produced one e-mail dated after February 2007, she must have destroyed other relevant documents.

The court disagreed. Defendants were speculating as to the whether plaintiff complied with their discovery requests, and have not met their burden to support their contentions of spoliation. The court refused to assume the plaintiff’s failure to comply. Therefore, the court denied the motion, and any calls for sanctions, without prejudice to any future motion should further discovery show that plaintiff did, in fact, fail to produce responsive documents or had spoliated relevant evidence.

Benton v. Dlorah, Inc., 2007 WL 2225946 (D. Kan. Aug. 1, 2007)

K&L Gates has the full text of the opinion here, as well as their own summary here.

Posted in 10th Circuit, Case Summary, D. Kan., Discovery, Discovery Requests, Form of Production, Magistrate Judge Gerald L. Rushfelt, Motion to Compel | Leave a Comment »