Miscommunication about Search Terms Leads to Defendants’ Refusal to Produce Thousands of Documents, Court Declines to Compel Production without Showing of Some Benefit to Plaintiff
Ross v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 2008 WL 4758678 (S.D. Ohio Oct. 27, 2008)
In this securities case, the parties reached agreement that discovery was best accomplished by allowing Abercrombie to perform keyword searches to identify relevant information for production. Plaintiff identified and provided the key words to the defendant.
The first key words list contained 120 terms. After efforts to ensure the search would be productive, including converting certain files to a different format, Abercrombie ran the search. There were many hits. To reduce the volume, plaintiffs crafted a revised list of 123 terms. Another search was run and when the results came in, the parties agreed that some data sets from among the results would be reviewed and produced. Abercrombie produced those documents. The parties also agreed that further refinements of the search would be necessary to cut down the remaining results. Accordingly, plaintiff’s counsel sent 6 additional terms to Abercrombie to be run in proximity to other specified terms.