Magistrate Judge Compels Production from Additional Custodians in Absence of Even an Estimate of the Alleged “Burden”

In What's New in E-Discovery and Spoliation?, What's New in the Courts by gravierhouseLeave a Comment

Plaintiffs sought to discovery e-mails from the Mayor of Chicago and ten additional custodians in related wrongful arrest cases.  The City agreed to search the e-mail files of two custodians, while objecting to the others as unduly burdensome.  Granting the motion to compel, in pertinent part, the court ordered the City to search and produce responsive materials from the Mayor and four additional custodians.

“The City argues that it will be burdened with the time and expense of searching the email boxes of nine additional custodians. The City does not offer any specifics or even a rough estimate about the burden…. The City argues in its sur-reply that it is impossible to determine how many emails there may be unless the City actually runs the searches and collects the material. Still, the City should have provided an estimate of the burden…. In addition, other Rule 26 factors — the importance of the issues and of the discovery in resolving the issues, and the parties’ relative access to information and their resources — weigh in favor of allowing discovery of more than just the two custodians proposed by the City.”

At the same time: “searching all of the custodians proposed by Plaintiffs is not proportional to the needs of the case.  The Court is mindful that every additional custodian increases the risk of duplication of emails and the time and resources necessary to review emails. Therefore, the Court will not require the City to search the following [four custodial sets of] emails because of the short tenure of the staff person or the time during which the person held the position.”


Mann v. City of Chicago, No.15-9197, 2017 WL 3970592 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 8, 2017).

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