Last week, Magistrate Judge Virginia DeMarchi issued a decision in Baker v. Santa Clara University, No.17-cv-02213-EJD (VKD), 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129865 (N.D. Cal. July 31, 2018), denying a request by the Plaintiff to produce ESI in its native format.
Only 1 of the 54 document requests served by the Plaintiff specified that documents be produced in their native format. The Defendant objected to this one request, and produced all 2,500 of its responsive documents as PDFs without metadata. Santa Clara University (SCU) did not contend that it keeps these documents as PDFs in the normal course of its business. Baker did not participate in a 26(f) meet and confer, despite SCU's attempts to arrange one. SCU failed to explain why producing its documents natively would be burdensome. Judge DeMarchi also faulted SCU for failing to organize its production according to the categories in the Plaintiff's requests.
Based on FRCP 26(b)'s relevance and proportionality requirements, the Court determined that, "Absent a specific, articulable basis for believing SCU has not complied with its discovery obligations, Ms. Baker does not have a compelling reason for demanding that SCU reproduce its entire responsive document production in native format simply because she might find something missing." Id. at *5. Judge DeMarchi also said that Baker could identify documents, or categories of documents, and provide SCU with an explanation for why metadata or native versions were required. If the parties cannot come to an agreement the Court will resolve the dispute.