The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory L. Frost United States District Judge
JUDGE GREGORY L. FROST Magistrate Judge E.A. Preston Deavers
This document relates to: ALL CASES.
This matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Order Regarding Production of Electronically Stored Information ("ESI") (ECF No. 51), Defendant Porsche Cars North America, Inc.'s Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Order Regarding Production of Electronically Stored Information ("ESI") (ECF No. 56), and Plaintiffs' Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion for Entry of Order Regarding Production of Electronically Stored Information ("ESI") (ECF No. 61). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs' motion.
On July 26, 2011, the Court issued an order in which it sua sponte stayed all discovery save for jurisdictional discovery involving Plaintiffs and Defendant Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft ("Porsche AG"). The Court stated: "The parties [Plaintiffs and Defendant Porsche Cars North America, Inc. ("PCNA")] shall meet and confer within fourteen days from the filing of the consolidated amended complaintregarding any need for conducting discovery unrelated to the personal jurisdiction issue and shall inform the Court of the results of that meeting." (ECF No. 19 at 7; ECF No. 20 (emphasis added).)
Notwithstanding this Order, Plaintiffs sent PCNA a copy of their proposed Stipulation Establishing Electronic Discovery Protocol ("Proposed Stipulation") on September 13, 2011.*fn1
PCNA responded that Plaintiffs' Proposed Stipulation was premature and refused to agree to Plaintiffs' terms. On November 18, 2011, Plaintiffs filed the current motion requesting an order regarding the production of ESI.
Plaintiffs raised the issue of non-jurisdictional discovery with the Court in a telephone status conference on December 15, 2011. At that time, the Court reiterated that discovery unrelated to personal jurisdiction would not proceed until it lifted the stay.
PCNA filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on January 6, 2012 (ECF No. 62), and Porsche AG filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) and a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6) that same day (ECF No. 63 and ECF No. 64). On January 12, 2012, the Court issued an order that, among other things, set a schedule for jurisdictional discovery regarding Porsche AG's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 67.) Nothing in the Court's January 12 Order lifted the discovery stay or otherwise permitted the parties to engage in non-jurisdictional discovery.
Plaintiffs now seek an order setting forth the parties' responsibilities regarding all electronic discovery in this litigation. PCNA argues that Plaintiffs' Proposed Stipulation is premature and, alternatively, that Plaintiffs' Proposed Stipulation is overly burdensome. The main points of contention regarding the Proposed Stipulation involve the production of ESI in native format, metadata, and miscellaneous items such as an "ESI liaison." The Court will address each of these issues in turn.
Due to the current stay of discovery, the Court declines to enter an order regarding general discovery at this time. The Court ordered the stay in light of the broad range of discovery inherent in a MDL case and the potential for PCNA's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to narrow substantially this range. To enter a general discovery order in this case, particularly when there has not yet been a Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f) conference, would directly contravene the purpose of the stay. Plaintiffs' second attempt at circumventing the stay is not well taken.
These facts notwithstanding, the Court understands that Plaintiffs may need to involve PCNA in the permissible jurisdictional discovery related to Porsche AG and that such discovery may involve ESI. Thus, the Court will issue an order that governs ESI in the context of jurisdictional discovery only.
1. Native Form and Metadata
Plaintiffs' Proposed Stipulation calls for the production of documents in their native format*fn2 -as the ESI exists on the producing party's computer system-together with all associated metadata.*fn3 If native format ...