Rowan v. Sunflower Elec. Power Corp., No. 15-cv-9227-JWL-TJJ, 2016 WL 3743102 (D. Kan. July 13, 2016)

In this case, the court addressed, among other things, the sufficiency of Defendant’s objections to Plaintiff’s Requests for Production and in particular its compliance with the new requirements of amended Fed. R. Civ. P. 34, effective as of December 1, 2015. Upon review of the objections and Defendant’s statements of information witheld (as expressed by Defendant’s identification of its search parameters), the court concluded that Defendant’s responses were sufficient and counseled Plaintiff to make additional inquiries in future discovery to the extent he desired additional information.

Effective December 1, 2015, Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(C) was amended to require that objections to Requests for Production include a statement indicating “whether any responsive materials are being witheld on the basis of that objection.” Per the Advisory Committee’s note, “An objection that states the limits that have controlled the search for responsive and relevant materials qualifies as a statement that the materials have been ‘witheld.’”

In the present case, Plaintiff challenged the sufficiency of Defendant’s objections and in particular its statements regarding information witheld. The court addressed four examples in its opinion:

  1. Where Defendant responded to certain RFPs by objecting and stating that “[Defendant] has limited its search to the e-mail.PST files for project management for the subject project, and has produced all non-privileged e-mails and attachments identified therein relating to the subject project,” the court found that the response complied with Rule 34(b)(2)(C).
  2. Where Defendant responded to requests for “documents reflecting [Defendant’s] bid analyses of subcontractors who submitted bids for the project” by stating in relevant part that “it limited its search for responsive documents to all bid proposals [Defendant] received for the project dated July 25 and November 1, 2013, and to the evaluation and recommendation letters submitted for those bid proposals,” the court again found that the response complied with Rule 34(b)(2)(C).
  3. Where Defendant responded to a request seeking “all documents reflecting an investigation of the incident surrounding Plaintiff’s injuries” with a statement “that it limited its search to OSHA’s investigation, its own investigation report, Track’s investigation report, and email .PST files for project management for the subject project,” the court found that “[u]nder Rule 34, [Defendant] ha[d] provided a sufficient response.”
  4. Where Defendant responded to a “very broad request” seeking “any documents” regarding internal meetings related to specified topics by objecting to the overbroad nature of the request and stating that it “limited its search to the email .PST files for project management for the project,” the court found that the response complied with Rule 34.

Accordingly, the court denied Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel.

A full copy of the court’s Memorandum and Order is available here.