Top EDiscovery Case Summaries - October 2013: California: Citing Proportionality, Court Declines Motion to Compel Unnecessary Documents

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Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co. Ltd., 2013 WL 4426512 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2013).   In this patent infringement case, the defendants sought to compel further discovery from the plaintiff. In April 2013, the plaintiff produced documents in response to the defendants’ requests for financials, but the defendants argued that the documents were deficient because they did not present financials with regard to specific regional markets or granular financial data. The plaintiff stated that although it did not dispute the relevance of such data under Rule 26, it did not maintain such specific data in its “ordinary course of business” and that it would require a “herculean effort” to produce “even a subset of the reports demanded.” In its analysis, the court considered its ability under Rule 26(b)(2)(B) to limit production when the producing party shows that ESI is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. With regard to the plaintiff’s claim that it would be “immensely burdened” by an order to compile the reports sought by the defendants, the court noted that was “generally dubious of such generalized claims of burden.” However, the court further considered the “all-too-often ignored discovery principle” of proportionality, namely whether the “burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit,” and found that the specific financial documents sought would be of little value because each party had already submitted expert damages reports. The court noted, however, that denying the motion to compel would leave the defendants’ damages experts “open to an attack by [the plaintiff] for their failure to use more granular financial data,” and estopped the plaintiff from challenging the defendants’ damages experts on such grounds.

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