Top 5 Ediscovery Case Summaries - November 2013: North Carolina: Court Finds Searchable PDFs Sufficient, Denies Request for Native File Production

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Westdale Recap Props v. NP/I & G Wakefield Commons, LLC, 2013 WL 5424844 (E.D.N.C. Sept. 26, 2013).

In this real estate case, the plaintiffs motioned to compel the defendants to respond further to their requests for production. While the parties originally agreed on a discovery plan and protective order, the defendant’s first production (500 pages) and their blanket objections to producing in native format quickly became the “subject of multiple rounds of briefing.” After the plaintiffs filed a motion to compel additional discovery in December 2012, the defendants produced an additional 24,000 pages of documents in PDF format using search terms the parties had agreed to. The plaintiffs took issue with the production format, claiming they had requested native files in 70 of 71 requests for production in order to preserve metadata to help prove fraud claims. Responding to the plaintiffs’ motion, the court found the plaintiffs’ contention that producing search PDFs would destroy associated metadata “unfounded,” noting that the defendants agreed that “metadata would remain intact and plaintiffs have not shown to the contrary.” Additionally, the court found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate an adequate need to have the files produced as native files, and ultimately denied the motion for further production. However, the court stated that the plaintiffs may file an appropriate motion seeking further production if, after reviewing the defendant’s production set, they found that requisite metadata was missing.