United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Yvette
Bailey's motion to compel (Dkt. No. 35). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for
the reasons explained herein.
underlying facts of this case have been discussed at length
in a previous order. (See Dkt. No. 16 at 1-3.)
Plaintiff's claims include wrongful termination, failure
to pay overtime wages, willful withholding of wages, and
defamation. (See Dkt. No. 30.)
to this motion, the Court entered the parties' proposed
Electronically Stored Information (ESI) Agreement. (Dkt. No.
22.) The ESI agreement includes acceptable formats for
production. These acceptable formats include, but are not
limited to, native format, multi-page Tagged Image File
Format (TIFF), single-page TIFF, and searchable Portable
Document Format (PDF). (Dkt. No. 22 at 5.) Plaintiff asked
that all ESI requested be produced in its native format.
(Dkt. No. 36 at ¶ 3; see, e.g., Dkt. No. 36-1
at 2.) Defendants responded to the discovery requests, but
none of the documents, except for Excel spreadsheets and
PowerPoint presentations, were in native format. (Dkt. No. 36
at ¶ 4.)
September 14, 2016, the parties conducted a discovery
conference on the issue of ESI format production.
(Id. at ¶ 5.) Defendants maintained their
refusal to produce the remaining documents, mostly emails, in
native format. (Id.) On October 14, 2016, the
parties met again to discuss specific interrogatories and
requests for production. (Id. at ¶ 6.) On
November 2, 2016, Defendants restated their arguments and
refusals to comply with some of Plaintiff's requests.
(Dkt. No. 36-9.) On December 15, 2016, Defendants Alpha and
Altair supplemented their responses. (Dkt. No. 36-10.) Over
four months later, Plaintiff filed this motion to compel.
(Dkt. No. 35.)
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), “[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.” When addressing
proportionality, the Court considers “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.”
Id. This Court strongly disfavors discovery
motions and prefers that the parties resolve discovery issues
on their own. (See Dkt. No. 3.) However, if
requested discovery is not answered, the requesting party may
move for an order compelling such discovery after
having met and conferred with the party failing to make the
disclosure. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). The Court has broad
discretion to decide whether to compel disclosure of
discovery. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. General
Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002).
Native Format Production
objects to Defendant's refusal to produce all of the
documents requested in native format. (Dkt. No. 35 at 5,
10-12.) Native format production is one in which ESI is
produced in its “native application, ” which
allows the parties to see the document's metadata. (Dkt.
No. 41 at ¶ 3.) For example, a document created using
Microsoft Word would be produced as a Word document file.
Comparatively, PDFs and TIFFs are an “imaged
production” in which ESI is produced in a “static
image format.” (Id.) Essentially, PDFs and
TIFFs are screenshots of the ESI whose content cannot be
edited and metadata is not visible.
Defendants have produced certain ESI files in native format,
and others in imaged formats-“searchable PDF and TIFF,
with accompanying load files containing extracted text and
all metadata required by the ESI order.” (Id.
at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff argues that she is entitled to ESI in
native format because it would provide important and relevant
metadata information, including the ability to accurately
track communications exchanged in this case between the
United States, Bahamas, and China. (Dkt. No. 35 at 11-12.)
arguments that the production complies with the ESI order and
that the mixed format production conforms to “best
practices” in ESI discovery, (Dkt. No. 38 at 11-13),
are unavailing. Native format production also complies with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this case's ESI
order. Moreover, the Court finds that metadata and native
format production are relevant and proportional to the needs
of discovery. It is untenable to assert in this
technology-driven age of litigation that images of electronic
documents provided in TIFF and PDF form offer all of the
relevant information possible. The metadata that is not
visible in TIFF and PDF productions, but is visible in native
format production, is relevant information. Therefore, the
Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion on this issue.
Alpha and Altair's ...