Government Agency May Compel Production of Documents in Specific Format Through Subpoena Duces Tecum

Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. v. Champagne Drywall, Inc., 502 F. Supp. 2d 179 (D. Mass. 2007)

Under the National Labor Relations Act, the National Labor Relations Board moved for an order from the court to enforce two subpoenas duces tecum served on Champagne Drywall as part of the NLRB’s investigation of Champagne’s alleged practice of refusing to consider and hire qualified job applicants based on their union affiliation.  Champagne objected because even though the data sought existed within the organization, Champagne did not possess the information in the format sought by the NLRB – namely, as a list.

The court found that the NLRB was entitled to ask for information to be presented in a list format pursuant to its subpoena power under 29 U.S.C. § 161(1) and ordered Champagne to comply with the subpoena.  As grounds for its decision, the court cited a Fourth Circuit decision recognizing the government’s broad subpoena power, E.E.O.C. v. Maryland Cup Corp., 785 F.2d 471, 479 (4th Cir. 1986).  The court did, however, limit one subpoena on the basis of relevance but ordered Champagne to comply with all other document requests even if such requests required reconfiguring or compiling information into the requested lists.

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