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Shannon v. Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 20, 2018

DARRICK A. SHANNON, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
HONEYWELL FEDERAL MANUFACTURING & TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff alleges Defendants denied him multiple promotions as a result of a pattern and practice of age, race, and gender discrimination, in violation of Missouri Human Rights Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010, et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.

         Now before the Court is a discovery dispute concerning electronic discovery (Docs. 35, 37, & 38). Having reviewed the parties' memoranda, the Court finds a teleconference is not necessary in this case. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's search term request only.

         Background

         This case centers on alleged discriminatory acts by Defendants during the course of Plaintiff's employment. Plaintiff alleges that he applied for and was denied multiple promotions over the past four years, resulting in at least $100, 000 in damages.

         Over the last several months, the parties have diligently partnered to determine appropriate search terms that could be used to best search Defendants' electronically stored information (“ESI”). However, despite this collaboration, the parties cannot agree on how Defendants should search its files and documents in response to Plaintiff's requests.

         On June 13, 2018, Defendants ran a search of its ESI (the “June 13th search”), based, at least directionally, on Plaintiff's desired search terms. Plaintiff objected to Defendants' search terms, but the Defendants ran the search and produced the resulting documents. While the search resulted in 2, 484 “hits, ” documents that matched the search terms, it yielded only twelve unique documents.

         Plaintiff proposes a list of search terms that is expected to yield 7, 746 hits, 5, 262 more than Defendants' search. Defendants estimate the cost to review the 5, 262 additional documents is $23, 320.

         Plaintiff requests the Court to compel Defendants to do two things: (1) produce all the documents as a result of the June 13th search; and (2) run a search using Plaintiff's proposed search terms. Defendants state they have produced all the documents from their June 13th search that are relevant and non-privileged. Further, they oppose Plaintiff's search terms on the basis of proportionality and speculation.

         Standard

         Under Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Proportionality is weighed by considering “the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         Discussion

         The Court addresses Plaintiff's second request first. Plaintiff complains Defendants' search terms were too limited and asks the Court to compel Defendants to run an ESI search using his terms. Defendants oppose this request because the more restrictive June 13th search produced many irrelevant documents, and argue there is no reason to believe a broader search will return any additional discoverable material. Further, Defendants argue the cost to perform Plaintiff's search outweighs the needs of this single plaintiff discrimination case.

         The largest difference between Plaintiff's proposed search terms and the June 13th search terms is the boolean connectors “and” and “or.” Plaintiff's proposed search terms relies on the less restrictive “or, ” while the June 13th search uses “and.” For example, the June 13th search required the Plaintiff's first name and last name to be within three words ...


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