Extract from Brad Harris’s article “Case Law Summary: Can You Use Slack for Business Communications If You Can’t Produce Slack Messages in Discovery?”
Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?
Oh, sorry, wrong question. Which comes first: the business communication platform or the ability to preserve, collect, and produce communications from that platform during ediscovery? Okay, it’s a bit clunky as questions go, but businesses that use evolving technologies to keep their teams connected need to figure out an answer to it.
That’s why we’re glad to see more courts taking on questions of discoverability involving the collaboration platform Slack. This time, we’re looking at the case of Laub v. Horbaczewski, No. CV 17-6210-JAK (KSx) (C.D. Cal. Nov. 17, 2020), in which U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. Stevenson denied the plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery of Slack messages. The court concluded first that the Slack messages the plaintiffs sought were relevant to the litigated issues. However, the court held that obtaining those messages would be unduly burdensome and disproportionate to the case.
The Dispute and the Importance of Direct Messages in Slack
This case involved a contract dispute over the ownership of Drone Racing League, Inc. (DRL), which was itself one of the defendants. Daniel Kanes, one of the plaintiffs, previously worked for DRL, where he used Slack messages—particularly direct or private messages—to communicate about the business. The plaintiffs argued that these Slack messages were “relevant to show [their] involvement in and contributions to DRL” and that they should therefore be produced in discovery.