Any Way You Slice It, Objections To E-Discovery Production Format Must Be Timely

RPM Pizza, LLC v. Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company, No. 10-684-BAJ-SCR (Dist. Court, M.D. Louisiana Nov. 15, 2013)

Plaintiff RPM Pizza (actually Domino’s Pizza in this matter) sued defendant Argonaut Insurance over an insurance claim payment.

Domino’s filed a motion to compel stating Argonaut’s prior electronic document production was incorrect and incomplete in several areas: no documents were produced for certain requests, production wasn’t complete for some requests, and most of the documents had already been produced.

Argonaut attempted to avoid the Noid by producing additional documents and a privilege log. Domino’s replied that the productions were in the wrong format (PDF instead of TIFF) and lacked metadata. Domino’s was also cheesed by the lack of detail in the privilege log that made it difficult to determine if said documents were actually privileged.

Regarding the formatting complaint, Argonaut replied that Domino’s waived its request by not objecting to the PDF production in a timely matter and that no direct need for included metadata was provided by Domino’s. In addition, Argonaut argued that the privilege log lacked detail due to unforeseen technical issues, lack of time to prepare an extension of time request after extensive document review, and an overly-broad discovery request from Domino’s. Argonaut then requested an extension of time to complete the log.

The court rejected all of Argonaut’s arguments like a pizza delivered in over 30 minutes. Instruction Number 5 clearly specified Domino’s ESI production requirements, which Argonaut did not address for six months, effectively waiving its right to object. The court stated:

Again, Argonaut’s arguments are unsupported and unpersuasive. Under Rule 34(b)(2)(E), Fed.R.Civ.P. a party may specify a form for production of ESI. Domino’s did that in its April 19 discovery requests by including Instruction Number 5. Argonaut waived any objection to this instruction by not asserting it timely — not making the objection until it provided thousands of document in a supplemental response on November 7. Argonaut’s attempt to rely on the general objection included in its May 19 discovery responses is unavailing. This general objection cannot reasonably be interpreted to encompass a specific objection to Domino’s Instruction Number 5.

 Regarding the privilege log, the court was unmoved by Argonaut’s arguments:

Argonaut’s attempted justification for its lengthy and deficient privilege log are vague, unsupported and unpersuasive. Argonaut’s primary argument is that unexpected time constraints and tight deadlines forced it to have to review thousands of documents with little notice in a short period of time.

Additionally, because Argonaut did not request an extension of time to produce the privilege log, nor did it adequately explain the technical issues that slowed-down production, the court held:

In these circumstances the court finds: (1) there is no basis to give Argonaut additional time to provide a more complete privilege log; and, (2) Argonaut has waived its claim of attorney client privilege and/or work product protection as to any documents listed as withheld on these grounds in its privilege logs.

The court granted Domino’s motion to compel and so ordered Argonaut to produce the documents in the proper, originally-requested format. Elijah’s state-of-the-art e-discovery technology and consulting services provide complete and timely document production and support. For more information about Elijah’s e-discovery solutions please visit http://www.elijaht.com/ediscovery, for general information visit www.elijaht.com, and to contact one of our ESI experts call 866-354-5240 or email info@elijaht.com. 

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