Top 5 Ediscovery Case Summaries - December 2013: Ohio: Emphasizing the Need to Cooperate, Court Allows “Discovery About Discovery”

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Ruiz-Bueno, III v. Scott, 2013 WL 6055402 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 15, 2013).

In this wrongful death case, the plaintiffs moved to compel answers to interrogatories regarding the defendants’ “methods used to search for responsive electronically stored information,” and the “efforts made to comply with the plaintiffs’ previous discovery requests.” The defendants argued that “discovery about discovery,” as the plaintiffs sought, was not related to any claim or defense in the matter, and was thus outside the scope of discovery allotted by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Analyzing this argument, the court found that the defendants “fail[ed] to acknowledge the nuanced nature of discovery” and cited case law, commentary, and additional language from Rule 26(b)(1) which supported the discovery of “information about discovery in order to ‘aid a party in preparation . . . of his case’” in appropriate circumstances. Reviewing the facts, the court found that the defendants were reluctant to collaborate or share any information about the search process when asked, which was in direct violation of the spirit of Rule 26(f), and necessitated the plaintiffs’ motion to compel—thereby presenting circumstances where “discovery about discovery” was warranted. As such, the court granted the motion to compel and stated that future instances of such blatant non-cooperation would lead the court to consider whether sanctions were appropriate to “force the type of cooperation that the rules of Civil Procedure require.”