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Federal Court Re-Affirms E-Discovery Requests Must Be Specific About Format and Metadata

The adage ask me no questions and Ill tell you no lies highlights the impact of the failure to ask an important question. In the e-discovery context, this conundrum occurs when parties do not make the right discovery request. As reflected in a decision recently issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the failure to make the right request to an opposing party can dramatically affect the outcome of litigation, particularly if the case involves metadata, i.e., the data embedded in electronic documents.

The instructions and definitions in discovery requests require an understanding of the specific electronic information that is needed in the case. The most recent case about production of electronically stored information (ESI) in native format with metadata, Chapman v. General Bd. of Pension and Health Benefits of United Methodist Church Inc., No. 1:09-cv-03474, 2010 WL 2679961 (N.D. Ill. July 6, 2010), illustrates the importance of following the procedures outlined in Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(E) for specifying production formats in written discovery requests and responses.

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