Magistrate Judge in the District Court of Kansas Discusses Application of New Proportionality Language to Discovery Disputes

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

The plaintiff sought additional electronically-stored information which the defendant claimed was privileged. Rather than deciding the issue based on the existence and/or waiver of the attorney-client privilege, the court focused on the new proportionality language in Rule 26:

 

“The consideration of proportionality is not new, as it has been part of the federal rules since 1983. Moving the proportionality provisions to Rule 26 does not place on the party seeking discovery the burden of addressing all proportionality considerations. If a discovery dispute arises that requires court intervention, the parties’ responsibilities remain the same as under the pre-amendment Rule. In other words, when the discovery sought appears relevant, the party resisting discovery has the burden to establish the lack of relevancy by demonstrating that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the scope of relevancy as defined under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), or (2) is of such marginal relevancy that the potential harm occasioned by discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure. Conversely, when the relevancy of the discovery request is not readily apparent on its face, the party seeking the discovery has the burden to show the relevancy of the request. Relevancy determinations are generally made on a case-by-case basis. But for one brief reference in PCI’s response, the parties make no mention of proportionality in their briefing on the motion. Under the amended rule, however, the Court has an obligation to limit the frequency or extent of discovery if it determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in this action; or (iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by the rule.”

 

Rowan v. Sunflower Electric Power Corp., No.15-9227, 2016 WL 3087810 (D.Kan. June 2, 2016).

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