Producing Party Has Duty to Produce Electronic Documents with Metadata Intact, Says D. Kan. Magistrate
In Williams v. Sprint/United Management Co., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2005 WL 2401626(D. Kan. Sept. 29, 2005), a Federal Magistrate Judge in the District of Kansas has held,
"[W]hen a party is ordered to produce electronic documents as they are maintained in the ordinary course of business, the producing party should produce the electronic documents with their metadata intact, unless that party timely objects to production of metadata, the parties agree that the metadata should not be produced, or the producing party requests a protective order. The initial burden with regard to the disclosure of the metadata would therefore be placed on the party to whom the request or order to produce is directed. The burden to object to the disclosure of metadata is appropriately placed on the party ordered to produce its electronic documents as they are ordinarily maintained because that party already has access to the metadata and is in the best position to determine whether producing it is objectionable. Placing the burden on the producing party is further supported by the fact that metadata is an inherent part of an electronic document, and its removal ordinarily requires an affirmative act by the producing party that alters the electronic document."
Although the judge based this holding on emerging standards in the area of electronic discovery, the decision does seem to be in slight tension with Principle 12 of the Sedona Principles for Electronic Document Production and Comment 12.a. to the Sedona Principles, which articulate a general presumption against the production of metadata, but provide a clear caveat when the producing party is aware or should be reasonably aware that particular metadata is relevant to the dispute. The judge here appeared to create a presumption in favor of production of metadata.
The Sedona Principles are available at http://www.thesedonaconference.org/content/miscFiles/7_05TSP.pdf.