Court Denies Motion to Re-Produce Transmittal Emails in Native Format with their Attachments

Williams v. Sprint/United Mgmt. Co., 2006 WL 3691604 (D. Kan. Dec. 12, 2006)

In this decision, Magistrate Judge Waxse addressed plaintiffs’ continuing complaints about defendant’s separate production of transmittal emails and the spreadsheets they transmitted. The issue had been raised and discussed during several conferences with the court, and defendant had agreed to provide a “Spreadsheet Report” that would cross-reference the hard copy transmittal emails to the electronic spreadsheets. However, plaintiffs continued to experience difficulty matching up the transmittal emails and their attachments and moved for the production of the transmittal emails and their attachments in native format. Plaintiffs argued that this would eliminate the complicated, confusing, incomplete, and inaccurate Spreadsheet Reports and put both parties on the same discovery playing field.

Citing the new FRCP Rule 34(b)(iii), court denied plaintiffs’ motion to compel production of transmittal emails and attachments in native format. The court noted that defendant had already produced the emails in hard copy format, and the spreadsheets in native format, and that plaintiffs had not sufficiently explained why they needed the transmittal emails in native format. The court also found that defendant had provided legitimate reasons for its production of spreadsheets separately from their transmittal emails, and that it was not a deliberate effort to stymie plaintiff’s access to that discovery.

Further, the court found that production of the material in native format raised several new issues, including whether native production would permit the redaction or removal of privileged information in the transmittal email or the attachment.

Although the court acknowledged that matching up the transmittal emails with their respective attachments was an “arduous and time-consuming task” for plaintiffs, it concluded that the Spreadsheet Reports prepared by defendant appeared to provide sufficient information for plaintiffs to perform the task. It stated that, to the extent plaintiffs noted any discrepancies in the Spreadsheet Reports, they should communicate them in writing to defendant, and defendant should timely investigate and attempt to resolve any such discrepancies.

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