Best Buy Stores, L.P. v. Developers Diversified Realty Corp, Case No. 05-2310 (D. Minn. November 30, 2007)
District Judge David S. Doty has held that Best Buy did not have to restore a database of potentially relevant evidence that had been created for a different case, and then downgraded so that it became “not reasonably accessible.” The court found that the database would have to be restored from the original sources at a cost of $124,000, with a monthly storage cost of $27,823. Because the database was very large, it likely contained evidence that could be relevant to any case Best Buy was involved in. For that reason, and since Best Buy did not delete the information – it was still available from the original sources – the court found that Best Buy did not have to continue to pay the significant storage costs until such time as discovery requests were served or some other facts were presented putting Best Buy on notice of the particular relevancy of information in the database to this case.
The court went on to hold defendants’ arguments showing good cause fail because they do not and apparently cannot argue that the information they seek is uniquely available in the database. The information likely exists in hard copy and can be gathered manually without the need for restoration of the database. Defendants’ arguments centered on the haphazard way in which Best Buy conducted electronic discovery. It did not involve its IT department. It did nor preserve departed employees’ documents. It did not adequately search email archives. But defendants did not connect any of these concerns with the actual discovery the Magistrate Judge had previously ordered. The restoration of the database would be expensive, and without some direct connection showing that the information contained therein is unique and essential, the court would not order it restored.
It’s clear from a review of the Magistrate Judges Order that she was upset by the lack of diligence on the part of Best Buy in searching its electronic records. That probably had an impact on her willingness to order the database restored. Nonetheless, the database was clearly a secondary resource, put together for a specific case, with a substantial cost associated for perhaps minimal return. In order to show good cause, it seems that defendants would have to be able to point to specific groups of documents that were highly relevant and otherwise unavailable.