Archive: June 2008

1
Sixth Circuit Finds Demonstrable Abuse of Discretion in Trial Court’s Order Requiring Forensic Imaging of State-Owned and Privately-Owned Computers by Plaintiffs’ Computer Expert with Assistance from U.S. Marshal
2
Iowa, Maryland and Nebraska Join States with Special E-Discovery Court Rules
3
Production of Email in Native Format Satisfies Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(E)
4
Finding Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Protection, Court Orders Production of Attorney Notes of Employee Interviews Concerning Intel’s Compliance with Evidence Preservation Obligations
5
Client and Counsel Jointly and Severally Liable for Monetary Sanctions Based on Inadequate Search for and Untimely Production of ESI; Evidentiary Sanctions Also Recommended
6
Plaintiff’s Reformatting of Hard Drives Sought in Discovery Warrants Adverse Inference Instruction, Not Dismissal
7
Finding that Production of Privileged ESI Effected Waiver, Court Describes Risks of Privilege Review Using Keyword Searches and Offers Guidance on Proper Assertion of Privilege

Sixth Circuit Finds Demonstrable Abuse of Discretion in Trial Court’s Order Requiring Forensic Imaging of State-Owned and Privately-Owned Computers by Plaintiffs’ Computer Expert with Assistance from U.S. Marshal

John B. v. Goetz, 2008 WL 2520487 (6th Cir. June 26, 2008)

In this case, state defendants sought mandamus relief from two discovery orders issued by the district court during the course of the class-action litigation.  The district court had issued the orders after a discovery dispute arose regarding defendants’ duty to preserve and produce ESI relevant to the litigation.  In the first order, the district court directed plaintiffs’ computer expert and a court-appointed monitor to inspect the state’s computer system and the computers of 50 key custodians to ascertain whether any relevant information has been impaired, compromised, or removed.  The second order denied reconsideration of the first order and directed that the first order be executed forthwith.  Both orders allowed plaintiffs’ computer expert to make forensic copies of the hard drives of identified computers, including not only those at the work stations of the state’s key custodians, but also any privately owned computers on which the custodians may have performed or received work.  The orders also directed the U.S. Marshal, or his designated deputies, to accompany plaintiffs’ computer expert to ensure full execution of the orders.

The Sixth Circuit entered an emergency stay of implementation of the orders on December 7, 2007, which was previously summarized here.

In this decision, the Sixth Circuit concluded that certain aspects of the district court’s November 15 and 19 orders constituted a “demonstrable abuse of discretion.”  Accordingly, it granted, in part, defendants’ petition for mandamus and set aside those provisions of the district court’s orders that required the forensic imaging of state-owned and privately owned computers, including the provisions that required the U.S. Marshal or his designee to assist plaintiffs’ computer expert in the execution of the orders.

Read More

Iowa, Maryland and Nebraska Join States with Special E-Discovery Court Rules

Nebraska
On June 4, 2008, the Nebraska Supreme Court adopted amendments to Neb. Ct. R. of Discovery, 33, 34, and 34A that address the discovery of electronically stored information.  The amended rules are available here, and went into effect June 18, 2008.

Iowa
On February 14, 2008, the Supreme Court of Iowa approved proposed amendments to the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure addressing e-discovery.  The amendments, which took effect May 1, 2008, are available here and include changes to the following rules:

Read More

Production of Email in Native Format Satisfies Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(E)

Perfect Barrier LLC v. Woodsmart Solutions Inc., 2008 WL 2230192 (N.D. Ind. May 27, 2008)

In this case, one of plaintiff’s requests for production sought emails — plaintiff provided defendant with search terms and desired to have all emails that contained the relevant search terms.  Defendant complied with the request and produced approximately 75,000 pages of email documents on disk.  However, defendant designated the entire email production as Type C documents, “Attorney-Eyes-Only," pursuant to the parties’ agreed protective order. 

Plaintiff thereafter filed a motion to compel compliance with the protective order, and for sanctions.  At issue was whether defendant violated the terms of the parties’ protective order by designating all emails as “attorney eyes only,” and whether defendant should be required to re-produce the email in a different format.

Read More

Finding Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Protection, Court Orders Production of Attorney Notes of Employee Interviews Concerning Intel’s Compliance with Evidence Preservation Obligations

In re Intel Corp. Microprocessor Antitrust Litig., 2008 WL 2310288 (D. Del. June 4, 2008)

In this decision, the district court adopted the Special Master’s Report and Recommendation concerning the Motion of AMD and Class Plaintiffs to compel Intel to produce notes of its counsel’s investigation interviews of designated employees concerning Intel’s compliance with its evidence preservation obligations (the “Weil Materials”).  The Weil Materials included notes taken during and after the custodian interviews, meeting notices, emails between attorneys regarding the interviews, etc.  The court ordered Intel to produce the requested Weil Materials, as redacted by the Special Master.

Intel’s Preservation Efforts

On June 27, 2005, AMD filed its complaint against Intel.  On the same date, upon learning of the filing of the complaint, Intel assembled a team to put into place a process to "identify and preserve relevant paper and electronic documents" across six different continents.  Intel described its document retention plan as being tiered and having multiple layers of retention, including:

Read More

Client and Counsel Jointly and Severally Liable for Monetary Sanctions Based on Inadequate Search for and Untimely Production of ESI; Evidentiary Sanctions Also Recommended

R & R Sails Inc. v. Ins. Co. of Pa., 251 F.R.D. 520 (S.D. Cal. 2008)

After a fire destroyed plaintiff’s manufacturing facility, defendant paid plaintiff for loss of property, but plaintiff claimed that the value of all lost property exceeded the amount paid.  Plaintiff also sought further payment under the insurance contract for loss of income, business interruption and extra expenses.  Plaintiff sued to enforce the contract, and also alleged bad faith in the handling of the claim.

In discovery, plaintiff noted that "conspicuously absent" from defendant’s production of documents were "electronic or handwritten daily activity records/logs which are generally kept with an adjuster’s notes and telephone call records.”   Defendant insisted that the documents did not exist.  During a discovery conference on the matter, the court expressed doubt as to the records’ nonexistence and ordered defendant either to produce the requested documents or submit a sworn declaration that the records did not exist.  Defendant thereafter submitted a sworn declaration from its senior property claims examiner (Lombardo) stating that "[t]here were no daily activity logs or telephone record logs that were created or maintained in connection with plaintiff’s claim."

Read More

Plaintiff’s Reformatting of Hard Drives Sought in Discovery Warrants Adverse Inference Instruction, Not Dismissal

Johnson v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., 2008 WL 2142219 (D. Nev. May 16, 2008)

In this case, plaintiff alleged that defendant erroneously reported two of his real property mortgage loans delinquent to credit reporting agencies.  Plaintiff claimed that defendant foreclosed on one loan and continued to erroneously report both loans delinquent after plaintiff spent nine months making multiple phone calls and sending correspondence, including cancelled checks and loan documents, verifying the loans were current.

Defendant contended that plaintiff’s Fair Credit Reporting Act claim was supported with various letters he drafted on his two laptops and were “the very foundation of his claim.”  Defendant further contended that computer evidence revealed plaintiff may have manufactured the documents to support his claim and then flagrantly reformatted the hard drives on the laptops shortly after defendant informed him that they had been formally requested and were relevant to the case.

Read More

Finding that Production of Privileged ESI Effected Waiver, Court Describes Risks of Privilege Review Using Keyword Searches and Offers Guidance on Proper Assertion of Privilege

Victor Stanley, Inc. v. Creative Pipe, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 251 (D. Md. 2008)

In this case, plaintiff sought a ruling that 165 electronic documents produced by defendants were not privileged because their production occurred under circumstances that waived any privilege or protected status.  The parties had previously agreed to a joint protocol to search and retrieve relevant ESI responsive to plaintiff’s Rule 34 requests.  The protocol contained detailed search and information retrieval instructions, including nearly five pages of keyword/phrase search terms aimed at locating responsive ESI.

In March 2007, defense counsel notified the court that individualized privilege review of the responsive ESI would delay production unnecessarily and cause undue expense.  To address this concern, defendants gave their computer forensics expert a list of keywords to be used to search and retrieve privileged and protected documents from the population of documents that were to be produced to plaintiff, and requested that the court approve a “clawback agreement” fashioned to address the concerns noted in Hopson v. Mayor of Baltimore, 232 F.R.D. 228 (D. Md. 2005).  Later, when the discovery deadline was extended, defense counsel notified the court that defendants would be able to conduct a document-by-document privilege review, thereby making a clawback agreement unnecessary.  Following their privilege review, defendants produced responsive ESI in September 2007.

Read More

Copyright © 2015, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.