Key Insight: Plaintiff filed a motion to compel and for sanctions against defendants, claiming the defendants’ production of ESI relating to the treatment of plaintiff’s mental illness was produced in PDF as opposed to its native Excel format and not reasonably usable. The court granted plaintiff’s motion to compel, ordering defendants to produce the ESI in their native Excel format and awarded plaintiff’s counsel $25,000 in fees. The court rejected defendants’ argument that it converted the Excel data into PDF because it was required under HIPAA and Illinois law given the protective order in place. The court further found the ESI in PDF form was not “reasonably usable” under Rule 34(b). There is missing data and text, and it eliminated plaintiff’s ability to sort and organize the data contained in the spreadsheets. Quoting another court’s decision, the court noted: “One of the unique strengths of Excel software is the ability to implement calculations and formulae that are not evident in a PDF version[.]” This forced plaintiff to sort more than 270,000 pages of information, much of which is either redacted or difficult to read.
Nature of Case: Prisoner Civil Rights
Electronic Data Involved: Prisoner Records