Case Law

Should We Split It? Court Denies Defendant’s Motion to Be Relieved from Discovery Costs

Pennsylvania

Hawa v. Coatesville Area Sch. Dist., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37675 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 16, 2017) In this employment discrimination case, the plaintiffs requested that the defendant extract documents from computer hard drives that the plaintiffs used in the course of their employment. The specific issue before the court was whether the plaintiffs should bear some or all of the costs of discovery. The defendant motioned the court to relieve it of all costs, or in the alternative, 80% of the costs of obtaining the requested ESI. The defendant argued that the documents were stored using a specialized software which required hiring a third-party electronic discovery consultant to extract. To determine if the parties should divide the cost of discovery, the court referenced FRCP 26(b)(2)(B). The court found that the defendant did not provide sufficient evidence to show it should be relieved of the cost of producing its own records to the plaintiffs, which contained relevant information not accessible from another source. The court also held that the cost to extract the documents was not “excessive in comparison to the amount in controversy of this case.” Lastly, the court reasoned that the defendant had more resources to extract the data than the plaintiffs. All of these factors weighed in favor of the defendant bearing the costs of producing the ESI at issue.

Keywords: discovery, cost shifting, FRCP 26(b)(2)(B)