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Re: White v. the State of New Jersey

June 22, 2011

RE: WHITE
v.
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Shipp United States Magistrate Judge

CHAMBERS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING COURTHOUSE M ICHAEL A. SHIPP 50 WALNUT ST. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE NEWARK, NJ 07101 973-645-3827

Not for Publication

LETTER OPINION AND ORDER

VIA CM/ECF

All counsel of record

Dear Counsel:

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. (Docket No. ("Doc. No." 36.)) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied without prejudice in part.

I. Background

The parties are well-versed in the facts in this matter, and as such, the Court will not set forth the facts herein.

II. Discussion

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 defines the methods, scope, limits and process of discovery. Rule 26(b)(1) provides that, for good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. "Courts have construed this rule liberally, creating a broad vista for discovery 'to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case.'" Tele-Radio Sys. Ltd. v. De Forest Elecs., Inc., 92 F.R.D. 371, 375 (D.N.J. 1981). In interpreting Rule 26(b)(1), district courts must be mindful that relevance is a broader inquiry at the discovery stage than at the trial stage. Nestle Foods Corp. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 135 F.R.D. 101, 104 (D.N.J. 1990). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). While broad, discovery is not boundless. Rule 26(b)(2) vests the District Court with the authority to limit a party's pursuit of otherwise discoverable information. The Third Circuit recognized this power stating that, "[a]lthough the scope of discovery under the Federal Rules is . . . broad, this right is not unlimited and may be circumscribed." Bayer AG v. Betachem, Inc., 173 F.3d 188, 191 (3d Cir. 1999). Specifically, the rules provide that the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise permitted by the rules shall be limited by the court if "the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(iii). The Court will address each of Plaintiff's requests in turn.

A. Plaintiff's Request for Production of Defendant Schenck's Work E-mail Messages Plaintiff requests production of all incoming and outgoing e-mail messages from Defendant Schenck's Department of Corrections ("DOC") e-mail account for the period of October 2007 through December 2007 and October 2008. Plaintiff also requests a certification of the person who searched for and provided the aforementioned e-mail messages.

Defendants agreed to: (a) provide a declaration from a DOC IT professional explaining his role in restoring the e-mail messages and any limitations to the DOC's e-mail system; (b) have a second DOC employee search the available e-mail messages for information relating to any of the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint; (c) require the DOC employee who searched the e-mail messages to provide a declaration stating the limiting instructions and detailing exactly how the search was performed; and (d) provide the declarations and copies of any relevant e-mail messages.

The Court has considered the positions of counsel and finds Plaintiff's request for all incoming and outgoing e-mail messages overly broad and burdensome in light of the Rule 26(b)(2)(C) factors. Instead, the Court finds Defendants' proposal reasonable. Therefore, the Court grants in part Plaintiff's request to compel incoming and outgoing e-mail messages, subject to the procedures ...


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