"Substantial completion of document production" is not exactly a bright line.
Is it more than half?
More than 90%?
At least in Delaware, cases interpreting the issue are light on the ground. Usually, when presented with a steaming pile of documents after the substantial completion deadline, the parties will work out some modest schedule extension without any court intervention. This is probably for the best, but it means that the parties are usually working from a blank slate when negotiating the necessity and length of any extension.
Luckily for us, Judge Burke issued an Oral Order in Magnolia Medical Technologies, Inc. v. Kurin, Inc., C.A. No. 19-97-CFC-CJB, D.I. 194 (D. Del. October 6, 2020) on Tuesday that we can all cite for years to come.
After the substantial completion deadline, the defendant (Kurin) noticed that the plaintiff had hardly produced any documents dated after the complaint. Plaintiff (Magnolia) responded that, because the scheduling order limited ESI discovery "to a term of six years before the filing of the complaint[,]” it was not required to produce post-complaint documents.
Following a meet and confer, Magnolia did agree to produce post-complaint documents and proceeded to produce 57,000 more documents (about 1/3 of its total production) over the next month.
Magnolia did not agree, however, to Kurin's request that the entire schedule, including trial, be moved back two months, and instead proposed that fact discovery be extended slightly and the remaining schedule be compressed to allow the parties to keep the current trial date.
Finding Magnolia's interpretation of the scheduling order "not a reasonable one," Judge Burke agreed to postpone the trial because to do otherwise would "compress the case schedule in a manner that would prejudice Kurin for a mistake that was not Kurin's fault."
So now we know—refusing to produce an entire category of documents until after the deadline for substantial completion is too far.