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Stuart v. Town of Framingham

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 26, 2018

VINCENT E. STUART, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF FRAMINGHAM and BRIAN SIMONEAU, Assistant to the Chief of Police of the Town of Framingham, individually, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          INDIRA TALWANI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before this court are three motions by Plaintiff Vincent Stuart: (1) a Motion to Compel Discovery from Defendants (“Mot. Compel Defs.' Discovery”) [#41], (2) a Motion to Compel Ronald Brandolini's and Robert Downing's Compliance with Third-Party Subpoenas (“Mot. Compel Third-Party Subpoenas”) [#44], and (3) a Motion for an Order to Enter Regarding Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (“Mot. for ESI Order”) [#46]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for an ESI Order [#46] is ALLOWED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, the Motion to Compel Defendants' Discovery [#41] is ALLOWED IN PART and DENIED IN PART AS MOOT, and the Motion to Compel Third-Party Subpoenas [#44] is ALLOWED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Background

         These motions stem from a long-simmering discovery dispute. Plaintiff states that as of August 11, 2017, Defendants Town of Framingham (the “Town”) and Brian Simoneau had not produced any documents or responded to Plaintiff's interrogatories. Pl.'s Mem. Re Defs.' Discovery 1 [#42]. In their opposition, Defendants counter that they have now produced over 2, 600 pages of documents, provided answers to interrogatories directed at Simoneau, and are continuing to negotiate production of ESI. Defs.' Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Compel Defs.' Discovery 1 [#49]. They also argue that Plaintiff's discovery requests have been unduly burdensome. Id. at 5. Further, Defendants request a stay of discovery pending the outcome of their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [#27].[1] Id.

         II. Analysis

         As an initial matter, Defendants' request for a stay of discovery is denied. Their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [#27] is directed at only two counts of the Amended Complaint [#20]. Thus, an overarching stay of all discovery is unnecessary.

         a. ESI Order

         Plaintiff seeks an order regarding discovery of ESI to “facilitate the appropriate maintenance, collection, review, and production of electronically stored information (“ESI”) within the possession, custody, or control of the parties.” Mot. for ESI Order 1 [#46]. Defendants counter that no such order is necessary, given their expectation that “the ESI vendor use of industry standard protocol for production will be consistent with the parameters sought by the Plaintiff and wholly satisfactory.” Defs.' Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. for ESI Order (“Defs' Opp'n to ESI Order”) 1 [#53]. Further, Defendants suggest that the order proposed by Plaintiffs adds unnecessary burden and irrelevant requirements. Id. at 2-3.

         In light of the discovery delays to date, the court finds that deadlines for disclosure of shared drives and servers containing discoverable information, third-party data sources and the ability to preserve such materials, and inaccessible data, Mot. for ESI Order, Ex. A (“Proposed ESI Order”) ¶¶ A.1-A.3 [#46-1], for production of privilege logs, id. ¶ C.1, and for a requesting party's proposal of additional search terms within 14 days of receipt of a producing party's production, id. ¶ D.2.b, appear necessary. Accordingly, Defendants' objection to such deadlines is overruled.

         Further, contrary to Defendants' interpretation, the court reads “non-custodial data sources” to refer to data sources over which Defendants have possession, custody or control, but which are not associated with one particular custodian, rather than data sources over which Defendants do not have possession, custody, or control. Thus, to the extent the proposed ESI Order requires both parties to search custodial and non-custodial data sources, see id. ¶ D.2.a, and where the producing party has possession, custody, or control over the non-custodial data sources, Defendants' objection is overruled.

         However, the court agrees that requirements for production of hard-copy documents, see id. ¶ E, are outside the scope of an ESI order. Therefore, that section shall be stricken from the proposed ESI Order. Finally, to the extent the proposed ESI order requires a producing party to produce documents in a format or manner other than that contemplated by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34, such requirements are unduly burdensome. Thus, Section D.1 shall be amended to reflect that the format and manner for all productions must be consistent and coextensive with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34.

         Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion for an Order to Enter Regarding Discovery of Electronically Stored Information [#46] is ALLOWED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The parties shall submit a revised proposed ESI Order consistent with the modifications set forth above, for this court's approval.

         b. Motion to Compel Discovery from Defendants

         In his Motion to Compel Defendants' Discovery [#41], Plaintiff seeks (1) immediate production of written responses to interrogatories served on the Town and Simoneau and of responsive, hard-copy documents; (2) production of responsive, ESI ...


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