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More Evidence that the Continued Use of General Objections Risks Waiver in eDiscovery

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United States Magistrate Judge Sean Flynn’s recent decision in Byte Fed., Inc. v. Lux Vending LLC, is another in a long line of cases enforcing the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules requiring specificity in objections to discovery requests. This ruling, emerging from a trademark infringement dispute involving Cardamone Consulting Group, underscores the judiciary’s increasing intolerance towards vague and non-specific objections in line with the amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2015.

The Court’s Examination:

Judge Flynn’s analysis in this case is particularly insightful for litigation professionals as it tackles the misuse of general objections that do not meet the specificity required by the Federal Rules. His scrutiny was directed at several requests for production that were met with broad, unsubstantiated objections by the defendant, which they labeled as “vague and incomprehensible.”

Key Rulings:

  • Rejection of Vague Objections: The Court overruled the defendant’s objections to an ESI request from three corporate email accounts, noting the lack of specificity in how the requests were vague or incomprehensible.
  • Denial of Boilerplate Objections: In another instance, the Court dismissed the defendant’s boilerplate objection to requests for website traffic data, emphasizing that such information was directly relevant to the trademark claims at issue.
  • Clarification on Production Responsibilities: The Court also pointed out the responsibility of legal counsel to assist clients unfamiliar with ediscovery practices, thereby dismissing the defendant’s plea of ignorance due to their client’s lack of familiarity with such processes.

Judicial Implications:

This decision serves as a pivotal reminder of the Court’s stance on ensuring that objections during discovery are well-founded and explicitly justified. The Court’s dismissal of Cardamone’s general objections as boilerplate reflects a broader judicial trend toward requiring more detailed and precise responses in the discovery process, emphasizing the necessity of adherence to Rule 26 — which demands relevance, non-privileged status, and proportionality in discovery.

Key Takeaways for Litigation Professionals:

  1. End of General Objections: The era of general objections is decidedly over. Courts require specific objections tailored to each request, with clear explanations for why each objection is pertinent.
  2. Role of Counsel in ediscovery: This case highlights the indispensable role of counsel in guiding clients through the complexities of ediscovery. It’s imperative for lawyers to educate and prepare their clients, ensuring compliance with procedural rules and court orders.
  3. Preparation and Proactivity in Discovery Responses: Litigators must proactively engage in the discovery process, understanding the full scope of data involved — particularly digital data like web traffic and online advertising metrics, which are increasingly relevant in modern litigation contexts.
  4. Learning from Litigation Precedents: Familiarity with recent case law on discovery objections and ediscovery is crucial. Decisions like this one serve as learning tools and should inform future litigation strategies to avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance and the resulting sanctions.
  5. Understanding the Costs of Non-Compliance: The Court’s decision to award costs for the motion to compel against the defendant serves as a stark reminder of the financial repercussions of inadequate discovery responses. This should urge defendants to adhere more closely to procedural rules to avoid similar penalties.


The decision in Byte Fed., Inc. v. Lux Vending LLC is a clarion call to all legal professionals about the critical nature of specificity in discovery objections. As ediscovery continues to evolve, the Courts are setting a high bar for compliance, aiming to streamline the discovery process and reduce unnecessary litigation costs. For litigators, this decision is a valuable precedent, emphasizing the need to stay informed and vigilant in managing discovery effectively and ethically.

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Kelly Twigger
Kelly Twigger is a practicing attorney, software developer, consultant, writer, and speaker on issues in electronic discovery, the development and implementation of legal technology, and how to effectively use data in planning for and during litigation.

She is a co-author of Electronic Discovery and Records and Information Management, and host of Case of the Week at eDiscovery Assistant. As Principal at ESI Attorneys, Kelly manages the boutique eDiscovery and information law firm that acts as operational business partners with its clients to advise law firms, corporations, and municipalities on all areas of electronic information including eDiscovery, privacy, cybersecurity, and information governance.

Kelly is also the CEO of eDiscovery Assistant — a SaaS-based practical resource for litigators handling eDiscovery — that curates discovery decisions, rules, and additional content. She is developing an online academy to provide on-demand education for lawyers and legal support professionals to stay abreast of changes in the law and technology that affect litigation and clients’ obligations to respond.

You can reach Kelly at [email protected], join her Facebook community group at Let’s Talk eDiscovery, or connect with her on Twitter @kellytwigger.

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