Court Compels Cooperation Regarding Search Terms

Pyle v. Selective Ins. Co. of Am., No. 2:16-cv-335, 2016 WL 5661749 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 30, 2016)

In this case, the court granted Defendant’s motion to compel Plaintiff’s cooperation regarding search terms intended to identify responsive emails requested by the plaintiff.  Notably, in response to Defendant’s motion, Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Defendant had “cited no authority to support its request, nor identified any burden that it face[d] in locating and producing the requested emails.”  Reasoning that Plaintiff’s argument “totally misses the mark” the court concluded that the parties must confer:

Plaintiff’s   argument   totally   misses   the   mark;   in   fact,   it   borders   on   being incomprehensible. Far from being baseless, Defendant’s request is entirely consistent with both the  letter  and  spirit  of  the  Federal  Rules  of  Civil  Procedure  regarding  the  discovery  of electronically stored information and this Court’s Local Rules. It is well settled by now that “electronic discovery should be a party-driven process.” Romero v. Allstate Ins. Co., 271 F.R.D. 96, 109 (E.D. Pa. 2010) (internal citation omitted). The Federal Rules expressly require counsel to meet and confer on “any issues about disclosure, discovery, or preservation of electronically stored information, including the form or forms in which it should be produced[.]” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f)(3)(C). “Among the items about which the court expects counsel to ‘reach practical agreement’ without the court having to micro-manage e-discovery are ‘search terms, date ranges, key players and the like.’” Romero, 271 F.R.D. at 109 (quoting Trusz v. UBS Realty Investors LLC, 2010 WL 3583064, at *4–5 (D. Conn. Sep. 7, 2010)). Indeed, this principle is incorporated into this Court’s Local Rules, which direct counsel to “meet and confer, and attempt to agree, on the discovery of ESI, including . . . an ESI search protocol, including methods to filter data, such as application of search terms or date ranges.” LCvR 26.2(C). Accordingly, Defendant’s motion is GRANTED insofar as it seeks to compel Plaintiff to confer and come to an agreement on the search terms Defendant will use to cull through the additional email archives that Defendant has identified as having been retrieved.

A full copy of the court’s order is available here.

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