Defendant’s Document Retention Policy “Clearly Relevant” and Must Be Produced

Petersen v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., 2006 WL 2054365 (C.D. Ill. July 21, 2006)

In this opinion, the magistrate judge overruled defendant’s objections to certain discovery requests, reminding the parties: “Remember, we are talking discovery, not admissibility at trial.” One of the disputed requests for production sought defendant’s document retention policy:

Produce a copy of UP’s Document Retention and Destruction Policy or equivalent, as it existed both at the time of the subject accident and at present day, setting forth UP’s policy for the retention of documents and other materials but not limited to, crossing signal test reports, audio recordings of train dispatcher radio and telephone communications, video footage filed from moving trains, data from rail/highway grade crossing event recorders or equivalent, data from defect detectors; maintenance and repair records for track, signals, rail/highway grade crossings, locomotives and rolling stock; and e-mail messages.

The magistrate found the policies to be “clearly relevant” and ordered their production. Another request sought production of “unaltered copies of all e-mail messages in the possession of UP that relate to the subject crossing, accident train or crew, or subject accident in general.” Ordering production, the magistrate stated: “Electronically stored data is clearly discoverable.”

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