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Gordon v. T.G.R. Logistics, Inc. - 321 F.R.D. 401 (D. Wyo. 2017)

Rule:

There are three basic steps for the court to consider when determining the appropriate scope of discovery under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Those steps are: (1) is the information privileged; (2) is it relevant to a claim or defense; and (3) is it proportional to the needs of the case. 

Facts:

Defendant T.G.R. Logistics, Inc. filed its Combined Motion and Brief to Compel Discovery Production from Plaintiff Brenda Gordon on April 21, 2017. T.G.R. Logistics sought an order requiring Gordon to produce an electronic copy of her entire Facebook account history for the two Facebook accounts she has identified.

Gordon was driving her motor vehicle on June 28, 2015 on US Highway 309 in Lincoln County, Wyoming. As she was executing a left-hand turn she was struck by a tractor-trailer unit owned and operated by T.G.R. Logistics and driven by Defendant Varga who was attempting to execute a pass in the left lane. As a result of this collision, Gordon alleged numerous physical injuries, pain (back, neck and jaw), traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. T.G.R. Logistics asserted that Gordon's Facebook account history is relevant and necessary to its defense of the damages claimed by Gordon.

Issue:

Should the Court grant defendant T.G.R. Logistics’ motion to compel injured plaintiff Gordon to produce an electronic copy of her entire Facebook spcial media account history?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court held that granting access to Gordon's entire Facebook history would provide minimal relevant information while exposing substantial irrelevant information. As such the discovery would exceed the proper limits of proportionality. T.G.R. Logistics’ claim that it would be unable to challenge Gordon’s damage claims is exaggerated. T.G.R. Logistics have been effectively defending such garden variety emotional distress claims for many years and such claims typically make up a small part of the damages in physical injury cases. Gordon also alleged a traumatic brain injury. Such damages have long been a subject of the evaluation and diagnosis by experts using proven testing protocols. The Court has not been provided any authority for the proposition that access to social media prior to the date of the accident would significantly contribute to the evaluation and diagnosis of these conditions. The Court denied T.G.R. Logistics’ request for social media discovery prior to the date of the accident of June 28, 2015. Nevertheless, the Court is not convinced that all relevant social media subsequent to that date has been produced. Gordon will be required to produce all relevant history which addresses Gordon’s significant emotional turmoil, any mental disability or ability, or relate significant events which could reasonably be expected to result in emotional distress. Gordon will also be required to produce all Facebook postings which reference the accident, its aftermath, and any of her physical injuries related thereto, insofar as such has not already been produced by Gordon. 

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