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Venturedyne Ltd. v. Carbonyx Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 15, 2016

VENTUREDYNE, LTD., d/b/a SCIENTIFIC DUST COLLECTORS, Plaintiff,
v.
CARBONYX, INC., d/b/a CARBONYX CARBON TECHNOLOGIES, and UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, Defendants, UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, Cross Claimant,
v.
CARBONYX, INC., Cross Defendant, CARBONYX, INC., Counter Claimant,
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, Counter Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Production of Documents against Carbonyx Inc. [DE 48], filed by Plaintiff Venturedyne, Ltd. (“Venturedyne”) on July 12, 2016. Venturedyne asks the Court to order Defendant Carbonyx, Inc. (“Carbonyx”) to produce electronically stored information requested in Venturedyne's Revised Requests for Production of Documents. On July 26, 2016, Carbonyx filed a response [DE 51], and on August 2, 2016, Carbonyx filed a reply [DE 52].

         I. Background

         On June 8, 2015, Venturedyne served its First Request for Production of Documents to Carbonyx. On September 19, 2015, Carbonyx objected to the requests on relevancy grounds and did not turn over any documents.

         On October 1, 2015, Venturedyne sent Carbonyx a letter responding to Carbonyx's objections. On October 6, 2015, counsel for Venturedyne and Carbonyx spoke over the phone. Because Carbonyx's primary objection was that the document requests were too broad, counsel for Venturedyne and Carbonyx discussed using keywords to search Carbonyx's electronically stored information. On November 9, 2015, Carbonyx turned over sample emails related to this case to help determine what keywords would be appropriate.

         On January 20, 2016, Venturedyne sent Carbonyx a Revised Request for Production of Documents. On February 25, 2016, Venturedyne's counsel sent Carbonyx's counsel a list of 126 keywords. Venturedyne's counsel proposed these keywords as a method by which Carbonyx could satisfy its burden to produce material responsive to the Revised Request.

         On March 10, 2016, Carbonyx's counsel sent an email to Venturedyne striking 20 search terms from the list of 126, leaving 105 terms. On April 28, 2016, Venturedyne's counsel responded by voluntarily removing 28 additional terms, leaving 78 terms. Venturedyne also objected to 7 of the 20 terms deleted by Carbonyx. In all, neither party objected to 78 of the original 126 search terms until Carbonyx responded to this Motion to Compel.

         Venturedyne's counsel sent Carbonyx's counsel follow-up emails on May 6, May 24, June 3, June 13, and June 30, 2016. Carbonyx's counsel did not respond to any of these five emails. On July 12, 2016, Venturedyne filed this Motion.

         II. Standard

         A party may seek an order to compel discovery when an opposing party fails to respond to discovery requests or provides evasive or incomplete responses. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a). “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-priviledged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant evidence includes “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.” Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978).

         To assist in producing responsive electronically stored information, parties frequently use keyword searches. Keyword searches “have long been recognized as appropriate and helpful for ESI search and retrieval, ” but “there are well-known limitations and risks associated with them.” Victor Stanley, Inc. v. Creative Pipe, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 251, 260 (D. Md. 2008). “Chief among [those limitations] is that such a search necessarily results in false positives (irrelevant documents flagged because they contain a search term) and false negatives (relevant documents not flagged since they do not contain a search term).” Makowski v. Smith Amundsen LLC, No. 08-C-6912, 2012 WL 1634832, at *1 (N.D. Ill. May 9, 2012). As a result, “[e]lectronic discovery requires cooperation between opposing counsel and transparency in all aspects of preservation and production of ESI.” William A. Gross Constr. Assocs., Inc. v. Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co., 256 F.R.D. 134, 136 (S.D.N.Y. 2009).

         A party objecting to the discovery request bears the burden of showing why the request is improper, McGrath v. Everest Nat'l Ins. Co., 625 F.Supp.2d 660, 670 (N.D. Ind. 2008), and the Court has broad discretion when deciding discovery matters. Thermal Design, Inc. v. Am. Soc'y of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Eng'rs, Inc., 755 F.3d 832, 837 (7th Cir. 2014); Rennie v. Dalton, 3 F.3d 1100, 1110 (7th Cir. 1993).

         III. Analysis

         Venturedyne's Complaint alleges that Venturedyne, doing business as Scientific Dust Collectors, contracted with Carbonyx “to supply dust collection systems” and various services to support Carbonyx's contract with U.S. Steel. The equipment was to be used as part of U.S. Steel's Coke Improvements Project. Venturedyne alleges that ...


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