Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Wilkinson, Jr., issued a decision, McDonnel Group v. Starr Surplus Lines Ins. Co., No. 18-1380, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170539 (E.D. La. Oct. 3, 2018), granting in part and denying in part the Defendants' Motion to Compel. The case concerns a dispute over whether or not the Defendants should pay insurance claims relating to the renovation of a hotel in New Orleans.
The Defendants requested construction schedules in their native format, which the Plaintiff produced as PDFs. The Court noted that Fed. R. Civ. P. 34 allows a party to request ESI in its native format, and requires the producing party to specify its basis for not doing so. The Plaintiffs', "mindlessly deficient, boilerplate, stonewalling objection" led to the waiver of an objection to producing the schedules in their native format. McDonel, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170539, at *3. Judge Wilkinson found that the need for metadata was self-evident for "information in the construction schedule context, with its frequent alterations, change orders, and time sensitive but often disturbed deadlines." Id. at *3-4. He ordered the production of the schedules in their native format.
The Court also ordered new responses to requests for production which state that all non-privileged responsive material has been produced and a log of materials withheld on the basis of attorney-client privilege or work product. The parties were ordered to comply with their own agreement on a supplemental search for emails and the Defendants have to file an affidavit confirming they have made the search in compliance with the agreement.
Judge Wilkinson denied a request for attorney fees and other expenses incurred in connection with the Motion, because substantial production was made by the Plaintiff and the, "principal problem with plaintiff's written responses is deficiency and obfuscation in the manner in which the responses have been made." Id. at *7.