Williams v. Rosenblatt Sec., Inc.

Decision Date20 February 2017
Docket Number14–cv–4390
Citation236 F.Supp.3d 802
Parties Steven A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, v. ROSENBLATT SECURITIES, INC., et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of New York

Steven A. Williams, Pro Se, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.

Andrew J. Goodman, Kevin Bruce Leblang, Sam Matthew Koch, Susan C. Roque, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, LLP, Susan C Roque, New York, NY, Brian E Lee, Ivone, Devine and Jensen, LLP, Lake Success, NY, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge:

Pro se plaintiff Steven Williams ("Williams") has filed an Objection to Magistrate Judge Freeman's November 23, 2016 Order which denied reconsideration of a November 9, 2016 Order and also made additional rulings. The plaintiff's Objection, ECF No. 334, primarily concerns (1) the refusal of the Magistrate Judge to appoint an independent technical advisor to assist the Court in resolving disputes over the production of electronically stored information ("ESI") and (2) the Magistrate Judge's determination of the manner in which the defendants would be required to produce ESI.

Because the Objection is directed to non-dispositive matters decided by the Magistrate Judge, namely discovery disputes, it must be overruled unless the ruling of the Magistrate Judge was "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). "Under this highly deferential standard, magistrate judges are afforded broad discretion in resolving nondispositive disputes and reversal is appropriate only if their discretion is abused." Thai Lao Lignite (Thailand) Co., Ltd. v. Gov't of Lao People's Democratic Republic 924 F.Supp.2d 508, 511 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). To the extent that the plaintiff's Objection is directed at the Magistrate Judge's denial of his request for reconsideration of the November 9, 2016 Order, as opposed to the additional rulings made in the November 23 Order, the plaintiff's burden is even higher. As to the denial of reconsideration, the plaintiff must show that the Magistrate Judge's decision—that the plaintiff failed to point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked which might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court—was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc. , 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995).

The Magistrate Judge's November 23 Order resolved a dispute with respect to the manner of the production by the defendants of ESI. The plaintiff had demanded that all of the production be made in native format. The defendants raised issues with respect to assuring that documents could be produced and used in the litigation without the possibility of tampering. Ultimately, following a conference on November 18, the Magistrate Judge in the November 23 Order accepted the defendants' proposal that all of the documents be produced "in PDF form (with e-mail strings, e-mail attachments, and other separate documents in separate PDF files)," and ordered the defendants to make the production available for the plaintiff's inspection on a website, for a period of 60 days, at the defendants' expense, on a specific platform, and in a manner that would enable the plaintiff "to view the metadata associated with the individual documents." November 23 Order, ECF No. 327 pp. 2–3.1 This resolution by the Magistrate Judge was a reasonable one which satisfied the concerns of all parties, and was certainly not clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). It was well within the Magistrate Judge's "broad discretion in resolving" discovery disputes. Thai Lao , 924 F.Supp.2d at 511 (quotation marks omitted).

Moreover, to the extent that the plaintiff argues that there are some documents that are critical to his case and will demonstrate the merits of his case, the Magistrate Judge's resolution provides the plaintiff with ample access to those documents. As indicated in the November 23 Order, the production will be made in a manner that "enables [the plaintiff] to view the metadata associated with individual documents." November 23 Order p. 3. The plaintiff can then obtain copies of those documents.

In his Objection, the plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge's ruling violates Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, referring specifically to language that...

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