Not Proportional: Plaintiff’s Demand for TCPA Class Data that Did not Match Proposed Class Definition Denied by Magistrate Judge

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One of last year’s worst TCPA cases was Meredith v. United Collection Bureau, Inc., 2017 WL 1355696, at *2 (N.D.Ohio, 2017) where a magistrate compelled production of wrong number class data and forced a defendant to bear the cost of writing a program to find it.

Although that order was brutal, it looks like Defendant may have the last laugh here. After playing Plaintiff’s little game and performing thousands of dollars in coding work to find the files Plaintiff demanded, it turned out that there were less than 50 responsive records. (This is not a surprising finding since the Defendant predicted there wouldn’t be very many responsive files owing to their–allegedly–strong TCPA compliance efforts).

Displeased with the results, Plaintiff brought a renewed motion to compel contending that the Defendant had failed to faithfully perform the desired search and had not produced the records Plaintiff had requested. The Court disagreed. Noting that the Plaintiff’s demands had actually sought data regarding class members–and that the Court’s previous order had affirmed the same–the Court found that there was no basis to require a further production.

More importantly for those of us that defend TCPA class litigation the Court found that demands for data that do not track the class definition in a complaint are outside the scope of discovery– “the information that Plaintiff… now seeks appears to be significantly broader than her own proposed class definition. Requiring UCB to produce such information would, therefore, not be “proportional to the needs of the case.'” See Meredith v. United Collection Bureau, CASE NO. 1:16 CV 1102, 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 90924, *8-9 (N.D. Oh. May 31, 2018).

This reminds me of the old tale of the boy who gave a mouse a cookie. Nice to see the judge denied the glass of milk.

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