Undue burden argument prompts court to shift the cost of reviewing documents to the requesting party subject to a non-waiver orderApril 17th, 2009 | By Steve Puiszis
In re Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practices Litig., 2009 WL 959493 (D. Kan. April 3, 2009)
In this multi-district litigation, plaintiffs brought claims against the defendants asserting various state law theories because the defendants sold motor fuel at a specific price per gallon without adjusting for temperature expansion. In discovery, plaintiffs sought information concerning the defendants’ activities dating back to 1970. They noted that in 1974, the National Conference on Weights & Measures began considering the issue of temperature adjustments in the retail sale of motor fuel. During this time, the defendants allegedly contributed to industry studies on average fuel temperatures, and lobbied against temperature adjustments. Plaintiffs also claimed that during this time frame, the defendants created documents which acknowledged that when temperatures rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, selling motor fuel which has not been temperature adjusted unjustly enriches the seller. Additionally, in the 1990’s, the Canadian government passed legislation permitting the installation of automatic temperature compensation (“ATC”) equipment in retail gas stations.
Defendants initially objected to the plaintiff’s discovery requests about their activities prior to January 1, 2001 on the ground that it was unduly burdensome. The defendants subsequently agreed to provide plaintiffs with responsive, non-privileged pre-2001 documents found in their active files, but resisted searching for pre-2001 data or documents in their archived files.
While the defendants’ undue burden arguments did not convince the court that that the pre-2001 information did not have to be produced, it nonetheless fashioned a remedy attempting to balance the cost of that discovery, given the parties competing interests. While the court never mentioned Rule 26(b)(2)(b) or Fed. R. Evid. 502 in its decision, it essentially allowed the plaintiffs to have a “quick peek” of the requested information subject to a nonwaiver order. The decision provides a good example of the type of factual information that a party needs to provide when making an undue burden argument under Rule 26.Leave a Comment »