Country Vintner of NC, LLC v. E. & J. Gallo Winery, Inc., No. 12-2074 (4th Cir. Apr. 29, 2013).
In this case brought under the North Carolina Wine Distribution Agreements Act, the defendant submitted a bill of over $100,000 in ediscovery costs for recovery. The charges corresponded to several activities related to managing electronically stored information (ESI): $71,910 for flattening and indexing; $15,660 for exporting documents to a review platform and extracting metadata; $178.59 for image conversion; $74.17 for bates stamping; $30 for copying files onto CDs/DVDs; and $23,185 for quality control and production preparation. Under the plain meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4), the court reasoned that costs only for “exemplification” or producing “copies” are recoverable under this method of taxation of ediscovery costs. Joining its sister circuit, the court drew from the Third Circuit’s Race Tires America Inc. opinion to bar recovery of all costs besides converting files to images and transferring files to CDs—which represent the digital analogue of making paper facsimiles. Costs the defendant spent converting ESI into more convenient forms and loading ESI onto a review platform were held non-recoverable.