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Sarasota County Public Hospital Board v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

October 8, 2019

SARASOTA COUNTY PUBLIC HOSPITAL BOARD d/b/a SARASOTA MEMORIAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, Plaintiff,
v.
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF FLORIDA, INC., and HEALTH OPTIONS, INC., Defendants.

          STIPULATED ORDER ESTABLISHING ESI PROTOCOL

          SEAN P. FLYNN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pursuant to Rules 16(b) and 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties have agreed to the following protocol for issues raised in the matter captioned above (herein the “Litigation”) and related to the production of electronically stored information (“ESI”).”[1]

         1. Definitions and Scope. The following protocol and definitions shall be used in conjunction with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence and applicable case law to guide the production of discoverable documents and electronically stored information when production commences. The following terms shall be defined:

(a) “Document(s)” means electronically stored information (ESI) existing in any medium from which information can reasonably be obtained or translated into reasonably usable form and shall have the same meaning as used in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and case law construing the same.
(b) “Native File(s)” or “Native Format” means the format they were created or maintained. Native files should be collected, processed and produced in a manner that insures that all files reflect accurate metadata associated with the creation and maintenance of the files and is not corrupted by the methods of the collection of the data. Nothing herein shall be interpreted to require the review and production of ESI located on back up tapes absent further agreement or Court Order.
(c) “Metadata” herein means broadly any data about data.
(d) “Static Image(s)” means a representation of ESI produced by converting a Native File into a standard image format capable of being viewed and printed on standard computer systems. A Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) image is an example of a Static Image.
(e) “Load/Unitization file” means an electronic file containing information identifying a set of paper-scanned images or processed ESI and indicating where individual pages or files belong together as documents, including attachments, and where each document begins and ends. A Load/Unitization file may also contain data relevant to the individual Documents, including extracted and user created Metadata, coded data, as well as OCR or Extracted Text.
(f) “OCR” means the optical character recognition file which is created by software used in conjunction with a scanner that is capable of reading text-based documents and making such documents searchable using appropriate software.
(g) “Extracted Text” means the text extracted from a Native File and includes all header, footer, and document body information.
(h) “Receiving Party” shall mean the party receiving production of Documents in response to any request for production of document(s) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a) or pursuant to initial production of documents identified in the party's Rule 26(a) disclosures.
(i) “Producing Party” shall mean the party producing Documents in response to any request for production of documents pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a) or pursuant to initial production of documents identified in the party's Rule 26(a) disclosures.

         2. Search Protocol. The parties will commence meet and confers on or before September 13, 2019 to negotiate the search parameters applicable for each party to respond to pending discovery requests. The search parameters may include, but are not limited to, ESI sources, custodians, date scope, and search terms.

         3. Review of ESI. After the agreed-upon search protocol has been applied to the ESI sources identified during the parties' meet and confers the parties shall utilize attorneys or other legal staff to identify responsive ESI. Individual custodians shall not make responsiveness determination calls with respect to this ESI Protocol.

         4. Commencement of Production. The Producing Party shall arrange to preserve native versions of all electronically stored information to be produced, prior to its production. Production of Documents shall proceed at such time, place, and in such sequence as may be agreed to by the Producing Party and the Receiving Party. In the event agreement cannot be reached, the Producing Party and the Receiving Party shall submit their respective positions to the Court, and the Court will issue further orders concerning the productions, as necessary.

         5. General Format of Production. Subject to the provisions of Paragraph 7, Documents that are produced pursuant to this protocol shall be produced in TIFF form in the manner as described below. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this paragraph, the Parties reserve the right to request that an alternative format or method of production be used for certain Documents, if such Document is not susceptible to production in the format or methods of production addressed herein. In that event, the Receiving Party and the Producing Party will meet and confer to discuss alternative production requirements, concerns, formats, or methods.

         6. Production Format. Documents shall be produced according to the following formats:

(a) Electronically Stored Information. Except as provided in Paragraph 7(c) below, Document images shall be generated from electronic Documents and produced as a Group 4 compression single-page “TIFF” image that reflects the full and complete information contained on the original document, together with a load file or functional equivalent specified in Paragraph 6(b) that contains the metadata as set forth in Paragraph 12. In the event a Document is redacted, the Producing Party shall withhold the redacted text for that Document. The failure to withhold such text for a redacted document by a Producing Party shall not be deemed a waiver of the privilege associated with that Document.
(b) Load/Unitization File Structure. To the extent possible without undue burden, the Producing Party shall produce a unitization file (“load file”) for all produced Documents in accordance with the following formatting, including a separate load file for any native Documents:
OCR and Extracted Text Files (.TXT Files):
• Single text file per document containing all the document's pages . Pages separated by form feed character (decimal 12, hex 0xC)
• Filenames should be of the form: <Bates num>.txt Where <Bates num> is the BATES number of the first page ...

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