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Williams v. Sprint/United Management Co.

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Presentation on theme: "Williams v. Sprint/United Management Co."— Presentation transcript:

1 Williams v. Sprint/United Management Co.
230 F.R.D. 640 (D. Kan. 2005) District Court of Kansas

2 Parties Plaintiff: Shirley Williams
Filed suit based on age discrimination Requested Excel spreadsheets in native format Defendant: Sprint/United Management Co. Has produced discovery that does not include metadata

3 facts Action brought by Williams for age discrimination when Sprint reduced workforce There have been several discovery issues in the case but the one at issue is Williams request for Sprint to produce spreadsheets in native format (Excel). Sprint produced the spreadsheets to Williams after scrubbing the metadata which included: file names, dates of the files, authors, recipients and print-out dates as well as changes and modifications to dates. There was no record kept of what was scrubbed before production Cells in the spreadsheet were also locked so that Williams could not access them

4 eDiscovery Implications
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2005) 34(a) - “any party may serve on any other party a request (1) - to produce …data compilations … A party who produces …shall produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business … Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2006 amendments) 34(a) - party may serve on any other party a request within the scope of 26(b) (1) to produce… (A) any designated documents or electronically stored information…. 34(b) - procedure (E)…[u]nless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, these procedures apply to producing documents or ESI: (i) party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business… (ii) If a request does not specify a form for producing ESI, a party must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form or forms…

5 Sedona Principles Principle 9 Principle 12
“absent a showing of special need and relevance a responding party should not be required to preserve, review, or produce deleted, shadowed, fragmented, or residual data or documents” A document includes data compiled and presented on a screen hidden and never revealed to user in ordinary course of business (metadata) should not be presumptively treated as part of the document unless circumstances where it is relevant Principle 12 “unless it is material to resolving the dispute, there is no obligation to preserve and produce metadata absent agreement of the parties or order of the court” modest legal presumption in most cases that the producing party need not take special efforts to preserve or produce metadata - no real case law on the topic and FRCP don’t help so look to Sedona Principles

6 Analysis Court relied on the Sedona Principles for guidance (9&12)
Principle 9 – relied on “viewability” to determine whether the information should be discoverable. If the metadata is ordinarily visible to the user of the Excel spreadsheet, it should be part of the document and discoverable Principle 12 – when the producing party is reasonably aware that the particular metadata is relevant to the dispute, the producing party is required to produce the ESI with metadata if requested in native format Plaintiffs never expressly requested metadata Defendant should have reasonably understood that the Court expected Defendant to produce metadata Defendant should have had notice due to the nature of the claim Defendant should have had notice due to the request for Excel spreadsheets in native format

7 Defendant’s Argument Relevancy - While some metadata from the spreadsheets was irrelevant, most is relevant and would lead to admissible evidence. Changes, dates of changes, ID of people making changes, etc. Reliability - If Defendant had a fear of metadata being inaccurate or unreliable, they should have addressed that before they scrubbed the metadata. Not a justification. Privilege - If Defendant was concerned with privileged information being produced, they should have raised the issue before production. Include a privilege log 26(b)(5) - privilege documents must be disclosed and described without revealing privilege

8 Issues Regarding Metadata
Whether a court order directing a party to produce electronic documents as they are maintained in the ordinary course of business requires the producing party to produce those documents with the metadata intact? Whether emerging standards of electronic discovery articulate a presumption against the production of metadata? Does the requesting party have the initial burden to specifically request metadata and demonstrate its relevance? What is metadata? -“Data about data” All information about a particular data set which describes how, when and by whom it was collected, created, accessed, or modified and how it is formatted (Sedona Guidelines) Examples: author name or initials, company or organization name, identification of computer or network server or hard disk where document is saved, names of previous document authors, revisions, file properties, comments, etc. (Microsoft Office Online website) It varies with different applications Important in Excel to understand what formulas are being used to understand the numbers in the spreadsheet

9 Conclusion When ESI is produced in native format or as an active file, the production must include ALL metadata unless the parties agreed otherwise OR the producing party makes a timely objection to the production of metadata OR the producing party requests a protective order Sanctions - Because this decision was prior to 2006 amendments - Court determined that metadata production is new and there is not much law to reference Any precedent is ambiguous Court determined that sanctions were inappropriate

10 Questions If this happened after the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 34), do you feel that the Defendants would have been sanctioned? Do you think that it depends upon the type of document that the party requests as to whether metadata should be requested or assumed to be included? The relied on the Sedona Principles yet Principle 9 states the requesting party must specify metadata to be included - is this case-by-case?

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