In an opinion yesterday in a trademark case, Magistrate Judge Parker was critical of both sides to a discovery dispute for having issued boilerplate discovery requests and responses, in violation of the specificity contemplated by Rule 34:
This Court’s initial reactions to reading Defendant’s discovery requests are that they are neither tailored to the needs of this case nor consistent with Rule 34. In each, Plaintiff requests “all” documents concerning or pertaining to various listed topics. None are limited by date. Several of them overlap and thus contain unnecessary redundancy. For these reasons, the requests are clearly overbroad and unreasonable. Notably, during the telephonic conference this Court held with the parties about the document requests, Defendant’s counsel conceded that the requests were their “standard requests,” designed to capture all documents that could potentially be relevant to the elements of the claims and damages. Defendant’s counsel also conceded that Defendant would accept responses that were narrower than the requests.
The 2015 amendments to the Rules were designed to stop counsel from relying on standard, overbroad requests and to also require tailoring based on the particular issues and circumstances in the case. Defendant clearly did not comply with its discovery obligations under Rules 1, 26, and 34 when propounding the requests.
At the same time, Plaintiff’s counsel also did not comply with Rule 34 insofar as Plaintiff’s objections were boilerplate and its description of the documents it would produce vague. Rule 34 imposes the responsibility on a responding party to state what it is withholding or describe the scope of the production it is willing to make, including the parameters of the search to be made (i.e., custodians, sources, date ranges and search terms, or search methodology).
Judge Parker ultimately decided to give both sides one more chance to work out the disputes between themselves