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United States District Court for the Central District of California
February 18, 2021, Decided; February 18, 2021, Filed
CIVIL MINUTES — GENERAL
Proceedings (In Chambers): Order Granting Defendants Pet Qwerks, Inc. and Doskocil Manufacturing Company, Inc. [*2] D/B/A Petmate's Motion to Compel Plaintiff Benebone LLC's Production of Slack Communications (ECF No. 88)
Defendants Pet Qwerks, Inc. and Doskocil Manufacturing Company, Inc. d/b/a Petmate (collectively, "Defendants"), have filed a motion seeking to compel Plaintiff Benebone LLC ("Benebone") to be required to produce Slack communications responsive to Defendants' document requests. For the reasons provided below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED to the extent set out herein.
Slack is a cloud-based software system that allows a company to organize its electronic discussions into user-defined categories called "channels." Plaintiff Benebone uses Slack, as well as standard email, for its internal communications.
During the parties' early discussions regarding discovery of electronically stored information, Defendants sought to include Benebone's Slack messages in the parties' Stipulated ESI Order, and Benebone took the position that Slack messages should be excluded from discovery. The parties requested a telephonic discovery conference with the Court to address this, and each side submitted a short brief outlining its position. (See ECF Nos. 60-63.) Defendants included a declaration [*3] from Michael Gutierrez, Director of Forensic Services at Xact Data Discovery, an e-discovery vendor that Defendants have engaged for this case. During the telephonic discovery conference on November 23, 2020, the Court concluded that Benebone's Slack messages are relevant, but it lacked sufficient information to determine whether Slack discovery would be proportional to the needs of the case. Accordingly, the Court ordered the parties to meet and confer further regarding possible Slack production after Benebone had obtained additional information about its Slack account and what would be required to search and produce responsive Slack messages.
As part of the meet and confer process, Benebone informed Defendants that its Slack account contains approximately 30,000 messages. Benebone also estimated that it would cost $110,000 to $255,000 to extract, process, and review these 30,000 messages. Based on these cost estimates, Benebone maintained that searching and producing documents from Slack would be an undue burden and would not be proportional to the needs of the case. Defendants disagreed and filed the present motion to compel Benebone to produce its responsive Slack messages. (ECF [*4] No. 88.) The parties filed a joint stipulation pursuant to L.R. 37-2, as well as supplemental memoranda. (See ECF Nos. 89-92, 102-104.)
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2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43449 *; 2021 WL 831025
Benebone LLC v. Pet Qwerks, Inc., et al.
Prior History: Benebone LLC v. Pet Qwerks, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 250164, 2020 WL 8732321 (C.D. Cal., Sept. 3, 2020)
messages, discovery, declaration, channel, parties, e-discovery, estimate, cost estimate, per hour, communications, tools