In a case before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, the court largely rejected the defendants’ arguments to avoid supplementation to their discovery production, and granted in part the plaintiff’s motions to compel. In particular, the court ordered the defendants to supply “complete and accurate metadata” for a subset of documents, finding that their failure to do so in their original production fell short of their obligations under the discovery order in the case.
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Hoehl Family Foundation v. Roberts, et al., No. 5:19-cv-00229, 2023 WL 3271517 (D. Vt. Apr. 13, 2023) concerns a family foundation which sued its investment managers for allegedly funneling millions of dollars in foundation funds to investments in a struggling sports equipment company in which the managers had a financial interest. The foundation filed motions to compel accusing the defendants of delaying, obfuscating, and obstructing the discovery process. The court largely agreed with the foundation, granting most of its requests for production.
One issue raised by the foundation was the investment managers’ failure to provide metadata for certain documents in the production. The defendants asserted in a discovery conference that the metadata had inadvertently been stripped when they moved the documents to new folders in order to transmit them to their counsel for document review prior to production. Although the defendants eventually conceded to provide a spreadsheet with “file path” metadata to the foundation, the foundation argued this was insufficient to solve the problem because the spreadsheet lacked other metadata fields such as author, date created, and date modified. The court agreed with the foundation, finding that “[b]y failing to produce documents with complete and accurate metadata, Defendants fell short of their discovery obligations” under the discovery order in the case. The defendants were ordered to supply full metadata for a subset of documents requested by the plaintiff. The court acknowledged that this would create a burden on the defendants, but said any burden was “a function of the way in which the defendants chose to respond to the RFPs in the first place.”