In a minute order entered Wednesday, the court overseeing the facial recognition technology abuse litigation granted the plaintiffs’ requested extension. The Clearview AI defendants, including the company, its leaders, and a subsidiary, opposed the plaintiffs’ motion to extend the discovery cut-off and conduct ten additional depositions on top of the ten agreed to and already taken.
The much-reported multidistrict litigation over Clearview’s alleged illegal collection and sale of the nationwide plaintiffs’ unique face prints has proceeded through the dismissal phase and is well into discovery. Recently however, the plaintiffs sought to amend their complaint to add retail store defendants and a corresponding defendant class of corporations like the Home Depot and Walmart, who allegedly purchased access to and used Clearview’s facial recognition database, a catalog of the faces and identities of millions of Americans.
The court denied that request, noting that the plaintiffs far overshot the deadline to add new parties. In that order, the court described the upcoming close of discovery as a “hard deadline,” initially not boding well for the plaintiffs’ motion, the latest of several discovery spats.
The movants explained that they needed more time to review source code and cited the supposed foot dragging by the Clearview defendants in favor of their motion to push the deadline and for permission to take additional depositions.
For their part, the Clearview defendants pointed to instances where the plaintiffs failed to act diligently in pursuing discovery, dragging it into a costly third year. For example, the defendants cited a December 2021 discovery ruling requiring the plaintiffs to narrow the scope of several of their requests.
Yet, they claimed the plaintiffs waited over six weeks to serve the new requests when the Clearview defendants’ production was substantially complete. The opposition added that “many of them were duplicative of Plaintiffs’ prior requests that were found to be overbroad and objectionable.”
In a brief order, Judge Maria Valdez sided with the plaintiffs, finding good cause and noting the complex nature of the case. The deadline has been moved from late September to late December and each side has been granted permission to take a total of 20 depositions.