Court Refuses to Read Silence as Agreement to Pay Opposition's ESI Costs

Never assume that the other side will be paying for your e-discovery costs.  A New York state court recently rejected a party's crafty strategy of (a) telling its opposition in writing that it expected them to pay for the costs of production; and (b) taking the opposition's failure to respond as acquiescence to a $67,000 bill.

Plaintiffs filed suit  for breach of contract in a construction case, Silverman v. LeMadre Development, LLC et al., No. 08-603231 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2008). Plaintiffs requested  that the defendants produce electronically-stored information (ESI) as part of the discovery process. In response, defendants sent a letter in July 2010 reminding plaintiffs' of a so-called obligation to pay for costs incurred in producing ESI.  Defendants' letter asked the plaintiffs to respond within two business days "so that [the defendants] can proceed as promptly as possible with [plaintiffs'] demand."

Plaintiffs did not reply to the letter.  Nonetheless, defendants went ahead and produced more than 7,000 pages of ESI at the cost of $67,000. Two months later, they filed a motion to compel the plaintiffs to pay for the costs on the grounds that the plaintiffs' silence constituted an agreement to do so.

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