Top 5 Ediscovery Case Summaries – April 2013: Tennessee - Court Denies Motion to Compel Social Media Data

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Potts v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., 2013 WL 1176504 (M.D. Tenn. March 20, 2013).

In this employment dispute, the defendant filed a motion to compel discovery of the plaintiff’s personal computer and any “Facebook and/or social media data.” The plaintiff explained that she complied with her obligations under Fed. R. Civ. P. 34 by producing all relevant materials and further contended that producing the computer would be unduly burdensome. Additionally, the plaintiff argued that the defendant failed to make a “threshold showing that publicly available information on [Facebook] undermines the [p]laintiff’s claims” under Thompson v. Autoliv ASP, Inc. As a matter of first impression for the Sixth Circuit, the court reviewed persuasive opinions such as Thompkins v. Detroit Metro Airport and found that the defendant “does not have a generalized right to rummage at will through information the [p]laintiff has limited from public view.” In order to obtain access to such information, the court held that the defendant would have to make a “threshold showing that the requested information is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” The court found the defendant did not make such a showing, and denied access to the plaintiff’s social media accounts. With regard to producing the personal computer, the court concluded that relevant ESI might be contained on the device and ordered the parties to agree to a word search of the plaintiff’s computer to be conducted by an agreed-upon neutral third party to assess the potential relevance of such information.