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Court Denies Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Correlate Information Produced Electronically to Particular Document Requests

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Eastman Kodak Co. v. Sony Corp., 2006 WL 2039968 (W.D.N.Y. July 20, 2006)

In this case, the special master issued a Report and Recommendation recommending, inter alia, that Sony’s motion to compel Kodak to more specifically correlate information produced electronically via a computer server, CD-Roms and DVDs, to Sony’s document requests be denied. Sony objected to the Report and asked the court to direct Kodak to produce the documents in the form requested by Sony, or, in the alternative to produce documents in the form requested for certain of the more narrow document requests. Sony argued that if the Special Master’s Report and Recommendation were allowed to stand, it would be deprived of due process because it would be virtually impossible to find relevant documents "hidden" in the electronic equivalent of approximately 300 million pages of produced documents.

The court affirmed and adopted the special master’s Report and Recommendation, and denied Sony’s motion to compel. The court found that Kodak had produced the requested documents in the manner in which they were kept by Kodak, and that there was no evidence in the record to contradict this conclusion. It therefore concluded that Kodak’s document production complied with Rule 34(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The court found unpersuasive Sony’s argument that Kodak should not be allowed to produce its documents as kept in the normal course of business because there was insufficient indexing of the documents to permit reasonable discovery of relevant documents, and therefore Kodak had impermissibly shifted the burden of discovery from Kodak to Sony. The court cited two reasons:

First, the Special Master himself actually used the disputed server to conduct searches for information, and found that the information "seemed to be arranged in a useable manner." Second, Kodak has represented that it has no better way of accessing and organizing the information contained on the server than does Sony. Because the information produced is responsive to Sony’s document requests; has been produced in the form in which it was kept; has been produced in an accessible form; and because Kodak is in no better position to correlate the information to Sony’s requests than is Sony, I deny Sony’s motion to compel. While the court is aware of the substantial amount of time and effort it will take to sort through the information produced, as Sony has acknowledged, "[b]illions of dollars of sales are at issue" in this case, and therefore, it is to be expected that discovery will involve substantial time, effort, and expense.

(Citations to the record omitted.)