United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
OPINION AND ORDER
King, Magistrate Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on Defendants Swift Transportation
Company and Tevin Davis' motion to compel production of
information and documentation related to the online
activities, particularly the Facebook and others social media
accounts of Plaintiff, Tiffany Locke, to which the Plaintiff
responded in opposition; and Defendants replied. (R. 24, 30,
31). The Court referred the matter to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge for ruling on all discovery motions. (R. 16
their interrogatories and requests for production, Defendants
requested a record of Plaintiff's social media
activities, including a download of Plaintiff's Facebook
account, for April 26, 2016 and the six month period
afterwards relating to “Plaintiff's activities or
mental status.” (R. 24-2). Plaintiff objected to these
discovery requests on the basis of relevance and
proportionality. (Id.) As required before filing any
discovery motion, Defendants requested and obtained a joint
telephonic conference. (R.16). Participating in the
conference were Mr. Matthew Wright for the Plaintiff and Mr.
Stockard R. Hickey, III, for the Defendants. During that
conference, the Court granted Defendants leave to file a
motion to compel. (R. 23).
court recently addressed a similar dispute in Roach v.
Hughes, et al, 4:13-CV-00136-JHM-HBB, Docket #12 (W.D.
Ky. May 7, 2014). In Roach, Magistrate Judge
Brennenstuhl found that certain parts of social media
activity are discoverable, provided there is a sufficiently
specific reason for the discoverability of the information.
The Court finds the legal analysis in Roach is
appropriate for this case and the Court will
GRANT Defendants' motion (R. 24) in
part, and DENY it, in part.
Discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 is broad
in scope, with relevance being the determining factor in
discoverability of information.
scope of discovery is necessarily broad with any information
tending to shed light on the claims of any party being within
the scope. “[T]he scope of discovery is as follows:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense .
. .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Information need not be
admissible to be discoverable. Id.
like the scope of discovery, is necessarily broad. Any
information that bears upon the likelihood of any issue that
is or is likely to be raised in the case is relevant for
purposes of discovery. “Relevant material for the
purpose of discovery will encompass any matter that may bear
upon, or reasonably could lead to other matters that could
bear upon, any issue that is or likely may be raised in the
case.” Roach, supra, (citing
Invesco Institutional, Inc. v. Pass, 244 F.R.D. 374, 380
(W.D. Ky. 2007)). Stated differently, “a request
for discovery should be considered to be seeking relevant
information if there is any possibility that the information
sought may be relevant to the claim or defense of any party
in the action.” Id., (citing Goodyear Tire
& Rubber Co. v. Kirk's Tire & Auto
Servicenter, 211 F.R.D. 658, 663 (D. Kan. 2003)).
“[t]he federal courts, even after the amendment of rule
26(b) in 2000 [to add a proportionality requirement], have
continued to hold that ‘[r]elevance for the purpose of
rule 26 is broadly construed.'” Id.,
(quoting Jade Trading, LLC v. United States, 655
Fed.Cl. 188, 190-91 (2005).
relevance benchmark does not allow for unlimited intrusions
into private information. The “desire to allow broad
discovery is not without limits and the trial court is given
wide discretion in balancing the need and rights of both
plaintiff and defendant.” T.C. ex rel. S.C. v.
Metro Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cty., 2018
WL 3348728 at *5 (M.D. Tenn. July 9, 2018) (quoting
Scales v. J.C. Bradford and Co., 925 F.2d 901, 906 (6th
Cir. 1991)). The Court has broad discretion when deciding
upon the burdens and benefits of a proposed discovery motion.
Surles ex rel. Johnson v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 474
F.3d 288, 305 (6th Cir. 2007).
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34, the information
requested must be described with “reasonable
relevant information is within the scope of discovery. To be
within the scope, the information requested must be described
with “reasonable particularity” and must be
“proportional to the needs of the case.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a-b). A party must be able to understand the
information requested of it. “The test for reasonable
particularity is whether the request places a party upon
‘reasonable notice of what is called or and what is
not.'” Roach, supra,
(Mailhoit v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 285 F.R.D.
566, 570 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (quoting Parsons v.
Jefferson-Pilot Corp., 141 F.R.D. 408, 412 (M.D. N.C.
1992)). “All-encompassing demands that do not allow a
reasonable person to ascertain which documents are required
do not meet the particularity standard of Rule
34(b)(1)(A).” Roach, supra,
(citing, In re Asbestos Products
Liability Litigation (No. VI), 256 F.R.D. 151, 157 (E.D.
Discovery of Social Networking Site Content is still a novel
and evolving issue under federal law.
networking site content (“SNS”) is subject to
discovery under Rule 34. To fall within the scope of
discovery, SNS information must meet the relevance standard,
and the burden of discovering the information must be
proportional to the needs of the case. Put simply, social