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Electronic Discovery Law Blog

Legal issues, news, and best practices relating to the discovery of electronically stored information.

State Bar of California Issues Interim Opinion on Attorneys’ Ethical Duties in the “Handling of Discovery of [ESI]” – Public Comment Invited

Posted in NEWS & UPDATES

The State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct has issued Formal Opinion Interim No. 11-0004 (ESI and Discovery Requests) for public comment.  By analyzing a hypothetical fact pattern, the interim opinion addresses the following question: “What are an attorney’s ethical duties in the handling of discovery of electronically stored information?” Public comment on the opinion is being accepted until June 24, 2014.  While this opinion will not directly affect practice outside of the State of California, it nonetheless may provide all attorneys with valuable insight into the duties of counsel in electronic discovery.  [Please Note: California has not adopted the Model Code of Professional Conduct.  Despite that, the opinion acknowledges that the authors “look[ed] to federal jurisprudence for guidance, as well as applicable Model Rules, and appl[ied] those principals [sic] based upon the California ethical rules and California’s existing discovery law outside the e-discovery setting.”] Continue Reading

Starting Discovery with a Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition into “Manner and Methods” Used to Store ESI “Puts the Cart before the Horse”

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Miller v. York Risk Servs. Grp., No. 2:13-cv-1419 JWS, 2014 WL 1456349 (D. Ariz. Apr. 15, 2014)

In this case, Plaintiffs determined that they would “need to discover electronically stored information” and sought first to compel the defendant to “participate in a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition regarding the manner and methods used by  Defendant to store and maintain electronically stored information.”  Plaintiffs argued that taking the deposition first would “allow them to tailor their discovery requests to avoid potential disputes over what may be discovered” and contended that other courts had allowed such discovery for that reason.  The court denied Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel. Continue Reading

Advisory Committee Approves Proposed Amendments to Civil Rules, Next Stop Standing Committee!

Posted in FEDERAL RULES AMENDMENTS, NEWS & UPDATES, RESOURCES

As was reported on this blog just last week, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules met on April 10th and 11th to review proposed amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, including recommended changes to those proposed amendments as published for public comment.  On the first day of meetings, the Advisory Committee unanimously approved proposed amendments to Rules 1, 4, 16, 26, and 34, including the Duke Subcommittee’s recommendations as outlined in the Advisory Committee’s Agenda Book (discussed in a prior post and available here).  As approved by the Advisory Committee, the amendments would, among other things, narrow the scope of discovery by eliminating discovery of information relevant to the “subject matter involved in the action”; move considerations of proportionality into Rule 26(b)(1); shorten the time for service under Rule 4(m); add the preservation of ESI and ER 502 agreements to the permitted contents of a Rule 16 scheduling order; modify the requirements for responses to Rule 34 requests for production; and allow early delivery of Rule 34 requests prior to parties’ Rule 26(f) conference.  The proposed amendments as adopted will now be submitted to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (“the Standing Committee”) for its review and potential approval.

On the second day of meetings, the Advisory Committee took up proposed amendments to Rule 37(e).  As was previously discussed on this blog, the Discovery Subcommittee to the Advisory Committee had recommended significant changes to the version of the proposed rule which was published for public comment.  The proposed amendments to Rule 37(e) underwent further revision, however, even as the meeting was ongoing, and a final version of the proposed amended rule was presented for the consideration of the full Advisory Committee on Friday morning.  Continue Reading

Rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) “Documents” Do Not Include ESI, Requirement to Produce in the Usual Course of Business or to Label to Correspond to Categories in the Request Does Not Apply

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Anderson Living Trust v. WPX Energy Prod., LLC, —F.R.D.—, 2014 WL 930869 (D.N.M. Mar. 6, 2014)

In this case, the court analyzed the question of whether “a party must, under rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arrange and label electronically stored information (‘ESI’) to correspond to the categories in the request, or whether compliance with rule 34(b)(2)(E)(ii)—production of ESI in the form that the requesting party requests, or in another reasonably usable form—is sufficient” and concluded that “the rule 34(b)(2)(E)(i) requirement that documents be produced either in the usual course of business or labeled to correspond to categories in the request does not apply to ESI.”  Thus, the court declined to order Defendants to arrange and label their production, including approximately 20,000 pages of hard copy documents which had already been scanned and produced in .PDF format at Plaintiff’s request. Continue Reading

Sanctions Imposed for Manipulation of Metadata to Conceal Use of Unproduced Computer

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

T&E Investment Group, LLC v. Faulkner, Nos. 11-CV-0724-P, 3:11-CV-1558-P, 2014 WL 550596 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 12, 2014)

In this case, the District Court adopted the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge and ordered an adverse inference and monetary sanctions for Defendant’s manipulation of metadata using a bulk file changer in an attempt to conceal his use of an unproduced computer. Continue Reading

Upcoming Event: Mastering E-Discovery, Litigation Holds & Metadata (Live CLE/Telephonic Seminar, organized by The Rossdale Group)

Posted in EVENTS

Thursday, March 6, 2014
Noon – 1:30 ET

Join K&L Gates attorneys Thomas E. Kelly and Bree Kelly and their fellow panelists Elizabeth Treubert Simon, Of Counsel at Vorys, and Jay G. Safer, Partner at Locke Lord, for this informative and timely discussion of important issues in electronic discovery.

Attorneys today must understand and advise clients on the winning tactics and techniques governing electronic discovery, litigation holds, and metadata. The laws governing e-discovery have changed considerably in recent years with rapid advancements in technology. In addition, almost all computer applications and platforms generate metadata, which can be disastrous for your clients. Metadata comes to the fore at each phase of the e-discovery process, including in inadvertent disclosures, meet-and-confer, culling/reviewing/coding, and planning.

This seminar provides guidance so attorneys and legal professionals can easily grasp the current requirements mandated under the law, revised e-discovery practices, concerns involving metadata, and compliance required for effective retention and destruction of electronically stored information. This seminar will examine the full extent of the duty to preserve electronic evidence and provide practical strategies for streamlining efforts to minimize costs and time in e-discovery. Our nationally distinguished faculty will discuss the latest techniques in legal hold letters, metadata, document management, and means to use electronic discovery to your client’s advantage. Register today to enroll in this convenient, live telephonic seminar on E-Discovery, Litigation Holds, & Metadata CLE.”

To learn more or to register, click here.

Preservation Costs Survey: The Results are In!

Posted in NEWS & UPDATES

Professor William H.J. Hubbard from the University of Chicago Law School recently concluded his Preservation Costs Survey and the results are now available.  The survey “is the first, and to date only, systematic effort to measure the extent and costs of preservation activity across a broad sample of companies,” and collected data from 128 companies, “including companies of all sizes and from a broad range of industries.”  The results are both fascinating and timely, in light of proposed amendments to the Federal Rules which may affect preservation obligations in future litigation.

Notable findings include that “[o]ver 79 percent of respondents reported a ‘great extent’ or ‘moderate extent’ of preservation burdens”; that “[a]mong the largest companies in the sample, the estimated costs exceed $40 million per company per year”; and that “[o]n average across all survey respondents, slightly less than half of all preserved data is ever collected, processed, and reviewed” and “[e]ven less is produced or eventually used in litigation.”  Also notable was the conclusion that “[r]ule changes with even modest effects would generate meaningful cost savings” and that “[f]or the largest companies in the sample, a 3 percent reduction only in employee time spent on litigation holds would equate to savings of over $1 million per company per year.”

The Summary of Findings and Final Report were submitted to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules by Professor Hubbard during the public comment period for the currently proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (which has now closed). 

A copy of the cover letter accompanying Professor Hubbard’s submission to the Committee is available here.  The Summary of Findings is available here.  A copy of the Final Report is available here.

In Case You Missed It: ABA Working Group Publishes “Best Practices Report on Electronic Discovery (ESI) Issues in Bankruptcy Cases”

Posted in NEWS & UPDATES, RESOURCES

The ABA Electronic Discovery (ESI) in Bankruptcy Working Group has published the final draft of its “Best Practices Report on Electronic Discovery (ESI) Issues in Bankruptcy Cases” which “provides the framework for consideration of ESI issues in bankruptcy cases.”  According to Richard Wasserman, Chairman of the ABA Electronic Discovery in Bankruptcy Working Group, the Report “sets forth principles and guidelines on the scope and timing of a party’s obligation to preserve ESI in bankruptcy cases” and “addresses both debtor and creditor obligations to preserve ESI not only in connection with adversary proceedings and contested matters, but also in connection with the bankruptcy case itself.”  (Richard L. Wasserman, Best Practices on ESI Issues In Bankruptcy Cases, Law360 (Sept. 3, 2013, 1:17 PM ET) http://www.law360.com/articles/468985/best-practices-on-esi-issues-in-bankruptcy-cases).

The report is divided into six sections:

The sections are ESI Principles and Guidelines in Large Chapter 11 Cases; ESI Principles and Guidelines in Middle Market and Smaller Chapter 11 Cases; ESI Principles and Guidelines in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Cases; ESI Principles and Guidelines in Connection with Filing Proofs of Claim and Objections to Claims in Bankruptcy Cases; ESI Principles and Guidelines for Creditors in Bankruptcy Cases; and Rules and Procedures with Respect to ESI in Adversary Proceedings and Contested Matters in Bankruptcy Cases.

The final report was printed in the August 2013 edition of The Business Lawyer and is available to ABA members and customers, here.

A version of the final report, described as “in substantially the form” that was published in August in The Business Lawyer was posted on the Law360 website on September 3, 2013.  That version of the Report is available, here.

Motion for Sanctions Denied Absent Evidence of Timing of Destruction to Establish Bad Faith

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

Sokn v. Fieldcrest Cmty. Unit School Dist. No. 8, No. 10-cv-1122, 2014 WL 201534 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2014)

Plaintiff argued that spoliation sanctions were warranted for Defendants’ destruction of relevant audio recordings of closed-session school board meetings in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (“OMA”), the school board’s own document retention policies, and Illinois common law, but could not establish the timing of the at-issue destruction.  The court reasoned that the OMA did not impose a specific duty to preserve for purposes of litigation (“and certainly not for this specific litigation”) and declined to impose sanctions where bad faith could not be established absent evidence of when the tapes were destroyed. Continue Reading