Appellate court provides some guidance on electronic discovery obligations under California law

Vasquez v. CA School of Culinary Arts (pub. ord. September 26, 2014) (Second Appellate District, Division Two) is ostensibly about an award of attorney's fees following the plaintiffs' successful opposition of a motion to quash their electronic records subpoena directed to student loan servicing entity Sallie Mae, Inc.  After all, the Court describes the appeal as follows: "Sallie Mae, Inc. (Sallie Mae) appeals from an order awarding plaintiffs and respondents Daniel Vasquez, et al. (collectively, plaintiffs) $11,487 in attorney fees and costs incurred after plaintiffs successfully opposed Sallie Mae’s motion to quash a business records subpoena seeking electronically stored information pertaining to student loans made to them by Sallie Mae."  Slip op., at 2.

The real value of the case is found in its discussion of what defines a reasonable electronics evidence request:

The motion to quash was premised on the ground that the subpoena was improper because it required Sallie Mae to do more than produce records as they already exist and that Sallie Mae could not be compelled to perform research, or to compile data through a programming effort in order to create a spreadsheet.
There is little California case law regarding discovery of electronically stored information under section 1985.8. We look, therefore, to federal case law on the discovery of electronically stored information under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for guidance on the subject. “‘Because of the similarity of California and federal discovery law, federal decisions have historically been considered persuasive absent contrary California decisions.’ [Citation.]” (Ellis v. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 853, 862, fn. 6, quoting Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1282, 1288.)

Slip op., at 8.  Citing Gonzales v. Google, Inc.,  234 F.R.D 674 (N.D.Cal. 2006), the Court held that "a nonparty cannot avoid complying with a subpoena seeking electronically stored information on the ground that it must create new code to format and extract that information from its existing systems."  Slip op., at 9.

Until California Courts uniformly depart from this holding, or the statutory law is modified, it looks like federal courts will supply strong guidance in on the questions that arise during electronic discovery.