Rowe Entertainment, Inc. v. William Morris Agency, Inc., 2002 WL 63190 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 16, 2002) (full-text).
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
The district court undertook a comprehensive analysis of cost allocation and cost shifting regarding production of electronic information. The defendants contended that they should be relieved of the obligation of producing e-mail messages responsive to the plaintiffs' requests because the burden and expense involved would far outweigh any possible benefit in terms of discovery of additional information. The defendants requested that if production were nevertheless required, the plaintiffs bear the cost.
The court refused the defendants' request for a blanket order precluding discovery of the defendants' e-mails on the ground that such discovery is unlikely to provide relevant information or will invade the privacy of non-parties. The court noted that "[e]lectronic documents are no less subject to disclosure than paper records." The court also stated that "the supposition that important e-mails have been printed in hard copy form is likewise unsupported. In general, nearly one-third of all electronically stored data is never printed out."
The court ultimately denied the defendants' motion for a protective order insofar as it sought to preclude altogether the discovery of e-mail, but granted the motion to the extent that the plaintiffs should bear the costs of production, though the defendants would continue to be responsible for the expense of any review for privileged or confidential material.