Case Law

Court Emphasizes Equal Use of the Rule 26(b)(1) Proportionality Factors

District of Columbia

Oxbow Carbon & Minerals LLC v. Union Pac. R.R., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146211 (D.D.C. Sept. 11, 2017) In this antitrust case, the defendants brought a motion to compel the plaintiffs to produce “all documents” that belonged to a CEO of one of the plaintiffs. The documents at issue numbered in the tens of thousands and would cost thousands of dollars to produce. The plaintiffs argued that a discovery request of this magnitude violated the proportionality requirement of FRCP 26(b)(1). The court granted the defendants’ motion to compel, finding that the proportionality factors weighed in favor of producing the documents. Citing FRCP 26(b)(1), the court thoroughly analyzed the defendants’ discovery request in the context of each of the FRCP 26(b)(1) proportionality factors, as the court highlighted that no one factor is to be given more weight in the analysis than the others. For instance, the court held that the proportionality factor, “importance of the issues at stake,” weighed in favor of granting the defendants’ motion, as the instant litigation impacted many people that were not parties, and the Advisory Committee notes to FRCP 26(b)(1) state that “courts should carefully scrutinize discovery requests in ‘cases…[that] may have importance far beyond the monetary amount involved.’” Also, the factor, “resources of the parties” did not weigh against granting the defendants’ motion, as the court noted that “[w]hile discovery should not be used to ‘wage a war of attrition or as a device to coerce a party,’” regardless of the financial condition of the parties, the plaintiffs did not object to the request on this factor’s basis.

Keywords: Rule 26(b)(1), Factors, Motion to Compel, Proportionality, ESI