Failing to follow Rule 34′s procedures can result in having to produce ESI a second time in a different formatDecember 4th, 2009 | By Steve Puiszis
Covad Communications Co. v. Revonet, Inc., 260 F.R.D. 5 (D.D.C. 2009); Cenveo Corp. v. Southern Graphic Systems, 2009 WL 404 2898 (D. Minn. Nov. 18, 2009)
Because the production of electronically stored information (ESI) can occur in various formats, Rule 34 sets up a process through which the parties are supposed to resolve their disputes over the format of production. Rule 34(b)(1)(C) permits the requesting party to specify the format in which to produce the requested ESI. The producing party can either agree to produce the ESI in the requested form or can object to the proposed format. Rule 34(b)(2)(D) specifies that when either the requesting party fails to specify a production format in its request for documents or when the producing party objects to a specified format, the producing party is obligated to identify the format in which it proposes to produce the requested ESI. If the parties are unable to agree on a format, the Rule contemplates that a court will then resolve the issue, but is not bound by either party’s proposed production formats.
Rule 34 contemplates that the parties will resolve their disputes over the format of production before any production occurs. Indeed, the Advisory Committee Note to Rule 34 explains: “Stating the intended form before production occurs may permit the parties to identify and seek to resolve disputes before the expense and work of the production occurs.”
When a party unilaterally produces ESI in a format of its choice without providing the prior notice contemplated by Rule 34(b)(2)(D), the Advisory Committee Note to the Rule further explains that the producing party runs the risk that a court may conclude the ESI was produced in a format that was not reasonably usable and may order that it be reproduced in a different form. That very nightmare occurred in both of today’s featured decisions and the Covad Communications decision provides a textbook example of the type of problem that can occur when a party has to produce its ESI a second time in a different format.Leave a Comment »