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Court Denies Restoration of Deleted Files in Favor of Targeted Searches

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Alexander v. FBI, 188 F.R.D. 111 (D.D.C. 1998)

Plaintiffs sued for Privacy Act violations in connection with the FBI’s release of certain files to individuals in the White House. Plaintiffs sought restoration and production of email and deleted files from backup tapes and hard drives.

The government moved for protective order and submitted declarations of two employees within its Information Systems and Technology Division, which addressed the feasibility and burdensomeness of the request. Plaintiffs countered with an unpersuasive declaration of a consultant who failed to provide any educational background or information qualifying him to comment on the system of computers and email specific to the defendant. The court rejected plaintiff’s request that all deleted files and emails be restored, and directed the parties to meet and confer about “targeted and appropriately worded searches of backed-up and archived email and deleted hard drives for a limited number of individuals.” 188 F.R.D. at 117.