Yesterday, Judge Mazzant of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, in Zoch v. Daimler, 4:17-cv-578, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185343 (E.D. Tex. Nov., 8, 2017) approved a motion to compel the production data from the German auto manufacturer, Daimler, A.G. in a products liability case.
The decision found that a motion to compel was not moot where the defendant had produced heavily redacted documents and failed to prepare a privilege log in accordance with FRCP 26(b). It further ruled that the German Federal Data Protection Act, the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG) did not prevent the discovery of the evidenced requested by the defendants.
The BDSG is a blocking statute that limited the discovery of ""any information concerning the personal or material circumstances of an identified or identifiable individual (the data subject)." Mazzant found that several of the requests made by the plaintiff did not concern personal data, but that others did. Section 28 of the BDGS makes an exception for the disclosure of personal data in the public interest if the subject has no legitimate interest in the data being excluded. The Court did not find that the exception applies in this case.
The court then used the Societe Nationale analysis (which Judge Peck loves to discuss - see the Tip of the Night for October 18, 2016) in order to determine if the BDSG would need to yield to the discovery demands of American law.
1. The Importance of the Requested Discovery to the Litigation
The Court found that evidence on "comments, part change requests, defect notifications,letters, writings, e-mails, meeting minutes, analyses, internal remarks, and performance agreements" was compelling information.
2. Degree of Specificity of the Requests
The defendant conceded the plaintiff submitted specifically targeted requests.
3. Where Information Originated
The plaintiff conceded that the data originated outside of the United States.
4. Availability of Alternative Means of Securing Information
The Court seized on the fact that the defendants both stated that the information was protected by the BDSG and conversely also stated that is was available in the deposition testimony and redacted documents that were already available, in reaching its conclusion that alternative means did not exist.
5. Balancing of National Interests The Court reached its final decision on the motion to compel because of the nature of the data requested was related to business activities. ". . . despite Germany's interest in protecting such personal data, the quantity and context of the personal data at issue in this case mitigates these concerns. Here, Plaintiff's requests seek part change requests, defect notifications, meeting minutes, performance agreements, e-mails and writings regarding comments and remarks concerning the seat in question, and names of persons with knowledge of relevant facts." It determined that its protective order was sufficient to protect the confidentiality of the data, and Federal Rule of Evidence 403 would be an adequate means of preventing the admission of irrelevant or prejudicial evidence.
The court ordered documents to be produced in unredacted form, and a list of persons with relevant knowledge to be disclosed.