In this patent infringement action, the defendants conducted a "piecemeal approach to discovery, reviewing only the files of select corporate employees." The district court found that this approach was contrary to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and to repeated orders of the court.
In response to plaintiff's motion to compel, the defendant cited Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(2)(C), which allows the court to limit discovery if "the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative..." The district court noted that the rule "allows the court--not a party--to limit discovery where it is unduly burdensome. Absent such an order of the court, a party may not unilaterally refuse to comply with its discovery obligations."
The district court also found that the "defendant has made no showing that plaintiff's discovery requests were unduly cumulative, duplicative, or burdensome. See Hopson v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 232 F.R.D. 228, 244 (D. Md. 2005) (explaining that a party must marshal specific facts to justify less than full production of documents on the basis that production would be unduly burdensome)."
As a result, the district court ordered the defendant to "conduct a search of ALL corporate files of LifeWorks Technology Group, LLC and produce ALL responsive, non-privileged documents to plaintiff by Thursday, June 16, 2016. Given the substantial delay already caused by defendant, this deadline provides more than ample time to conduct the complete search and provide the certification ordered. Requests for additional time to comply will not be entertained."
The district court also found that sanctions were appropriate, even though the plaintiff had not specifically requested sanctions. "Although plaintiff has not expressly requested an award of attorney's fees, defendant's repeated failure to comply with this court's orders warrants sanctions and an award of fees pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(C) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court already has ordered defendant to pay the reasonable attorney's fees of plaintiff associated with two recent discovery motions. It is evident, however, that defendant's extended delay in responding to discovery requests has caused plaintiff to incur attorney's fees and expenses well beyond those associated with the two recent motions."
The district court also warned that "Defendant's failure to conduct a complete search of all corporate files will result in the imposition of additional sanctions."
M-Edge International Corp. v. LifeWorks Technology Group, LLC, Case No. MJG-14-3627 (D. Md. June 3, 2016)
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.