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Citing Proportionality, Court Concludes it would be “Senseless” to Require Plaintiff to “Go to Great Lengths” to Produce Evidence Defendants are “Able to Do Without”

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co. Ltd., No. 12-CV-0630-LHK (PSG), 2013 WL 4426512 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2013)

Relying on the “all-to-often [sic] ignored discovery principle” of proportionality the court declined to compel Plaintiff “to go to great lengths” to produce information that the defendants could “do without.”

The Samsung Defendants (“Samsung”) sought the production of several categories of financial information.  Although Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) maintained financial databases and did not deny that the requested information was relevant, it asserted that “it [did] not have reports of the nature Samsung would like and that only a herculean effort could produce even a subset of the reports demanded.”  Despite the alleged effort required, the court determined that compelling production would “not violate any established discovery principles” reasoning that “[w]hile this court has held that a party should not required [sic] to create completely new documents, that is not the same as requiring a party to query an existing dynamic database for relevant information.”

Nonetheless, the court went on to consider potential limitations on discovery, including its ability to “limit production if the producing party shows that the electronically-stored information is ‘not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost,’” pursuant to Rule 26(b)(2)(B).  Apple “argue[d] broadly that it would be immensely burdened by an order requiring it to compile the reports” demanded.  Noting it was “generally dubious of such generalized claims of burden,” however, the court quickly moved on to a “more persuasive reason to limit Apple’s production”:

[T]he court is required to limit discovery if “the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.”  This is the essence of proportionality—an all-to-often [sic] ignored discovery principle.  Because the parties have already submitted their expert damages reports, the financial documents would be of limited value to Samsung at this point.  Although counsel was not able to shed light on exactly what was done, Samsung’s experts were clearly somehow able to apportion the worldwide, product line inclusive data to estimate U.S. and product-specific damages.  It seems, well, senseless to require Apple to go to great lengths to produce data that Samsung is able to do without.  This the court will not do.

(Footnote omitted.)

Recognizing, however, that “Samsung’s damages experts [were] still open to an attack by Apple for their failure to use more granular financial data,” the court, “in fairness,” precluded Apple from challenging Samsung’s damages experts “for failing to allocate geographically or by product model in any way that could have been supported by the reports disputed here that were requested but not produced.”

In short, Apple was not required to produce the financial documents but was “estopped from challenging Samsung’s experts on any ground that would be rebutted by reference to documents that Samsung requested but did not receive.”