The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley
On June 28, 2008, this court ordered the defendants to provide information on the ability of Defendant Pleasant Valley School District to search back-up computer files in its possession to discover e-mails which could potentially be relevant to the case.*fn1 The plaintiffs had requested this information as part of discovery, and the defendants had balked, contending that the request was unduly burdensome and unlikely to produce relevant material. After examining the relevant caselaw, the court concluded that it lacked sufficient information on the process of recovering deleted e-mails, the time required to do so, and the potential costs of that recovery. Accordingly, the court ordered the defendants to supply such information and delayed a decision on plaintiffs' motion until it had this information.
On July 9, 2008, the defendants complied with this order (Doc. 53). They responded to the court's queries as follows:
(a) the technology required to gain access to materials preserved on the district's back-up tapes:
The district informed the court that it already possessed the equipment necessary to gain access to this material
(b) the cost of restoring the deleted e-mails
The district informed the court that e-mails were stored on an e-mail system, Groupwise, that it no longer used. In order to access the deleted files, the district would have to rebuild a Groupwise server. The district reports that "the cost to set up the required server would be a minimum of $5,000." The district also represents that costs would be incurred in the process of searching the restored e-mails to find discoverable material, and assigns a rate of $125/hour for conducting such a search. Given the high number of e-mails stored on the back-up tapes, the district estimates that searching them would cost at least an additional $5,000. The district thus estimates the cost of the search to be at minimum $10,000.
(c) the time required to access the materials
The district estimates a week to rebuild and restore the e-mail program, as well as additional time to access the e-mails
(d) the number of e-mails potentially preserved on the back-up tapes
The district reports that "there are easily millions of e-mails on the server." A precise number cannot be reported until the server is rebuilt.
(e) whether the stored e-mails can be searched by date, recipient, sender, subject, or keywords
Once the e-mails have been restored, they can be searched by date, recipient, sender subject or keywords.
With this information in hand, the court is prepared to rule on plaintiffs' request that they be allowed to search the defendants' back-up tapes in an attempt to discover whether other complaints were made to the ...