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EEOC v. McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, Inc., No. WMN-08-0984, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13134 (D. Md. Feb. 3, 2012)  FRCP  Premium Content - Sign on to View
The court ordered a party requesting e-mail communications in discovery to meet and confer with the opposing party to develop search terms to narrow the request, which could potentially return hundreds of thousands of e-mails, to a manageable number.

In this employment discrimination matter, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a motion to compel documents and interrogatory answers from the defendant after the parties disagreed about the proper scope of a request asking for e-mails relating to “applicants, complaints of racial discrimination, and server section assignments.”

The defendants claimed the EEOC did not limit this broad request with any proposed search terms and thus objected to it, claiming it unreasonable and oppressive since it could involve “‘potentially hundreds of thousands of pages of e-mail correspondence.’”

The court noted that “common practice governing the discovery of electronically stored information requires the use of search terms to make an extraordinarily burdensome search comply with the tenets of Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(b)(2)(c). If the producing party generates the search terms on its own, the inevitable result will be complaints that the search terms were inadequate.”

Therefore, the court ordered the parties to meet and confer to develop reasonable search terms.