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Electronic Discovery Law Blog

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

When is an Adverse Inference Instruction Not a Sanction?


Mali v. Fed. Ins. Co., —F.3d—, 2013 WL 2631369 (2d Cir. June 13, 2013)

Here, the Second Circuit addressed the difference between an adverse inference instruction as a sanction and an instruction “that simply explains to the jurors inferences they are free to draw in considering circumstantial evidence” and determined that the at-issue instruction was not a sanction and that the trial court did not err.  The instruction permitted jurors to infer that an unproduced photograph was unfavorable to Plaintiffs, provided they believed that the photograph was in the plaintiffs’ possession and that the non-production was not satisfactorily explained.

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Conducting “Traditional Relevance Analysis,” Court Denies Full Access to Plaintiff’s Social Networking Accounts


Giacchetto v. Patchogue-Medford Union Free School Dist., No. CV 11-6323(ADS)(AKT), 2013 WL 2897054 (E.D.N.Y. May 6, 2013)

In this case, the court conducted a “traditional relevance analysis” to assess Defendant’s request for broad access to Plaintiff’s social networking accounts and concluded that only limited discovery was appropriate.  Specifically, the court concluded that “unfettered access to Plaintiff’s social networking history will not be permitted simply because Plaintiff has a claim for emotional distress damages.”  Thus, the court ordered Plaintiff’s counsel to review Plaintiff’s postings and to produce those determined to be relevant, “keeping in mind the broad scope of discovery contemplated under Rule 26.”

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No Sanctions For Failure to Preserve Where Deleted Call Recordings “would not have been supportive of Plaintiff’s claim”


Cottle-Banks v. Cox Commc’ns, Inc., No. 10cv2133-GPC (WVG), 2013 WL 2244333 (S.D. Cal. May 21, 2013)

In this putative class action, Plaintiff sought sanctions for Defendant’s failure to preserve potentially relevant customer call recordings.  Although the court found that Defendant was negligent in its failure to preserve (and thus had the requisite “culpable state of mind”), no sanctions were ordered because the court concluded that the call recordings would not have supported Plaintiff’s case.

In September 2010, Plaintiff filed her initial complaint alleging Defendant’s violation of the federal Cable Act by charging rental fees for cable converter boxes and/or remote controls that class members “did not affirmatively request by name.”  In July 2011, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, after her initial complaint was dismissed.

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Special Master Analyzes Privilege Search Terms, Addresses Objection that they were Overbroad


Dornoch Holdings Int’l, LLC v. Conagra Foods Lamb Weston, Inc., No. 1:10-cv-00135 TJH, 2013 WL 2384235 (D. Idaho May 1, 2013)

In this case, a Special Master was directed to obtain ESI (more than one million documents) from a bankruptcy trustee, to review it for privilege, and to prepare a privilege log. The documents were screened utilizing keyword search terms.  Upon production of the resulting privilege log, Defendants objected that the terms used were overly broad and that the log contained non-privileged documents.  The Special Master therefore conducted an analysis of the terms used and made recommendations to address the objection.

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Opinion Highlights Questions Surrounding Proper Predictive Coding Protocols


Gordon v. Kaleida Health, No. 08-CV-378S(F), 2013 WL 2250579 (W.D.N.Y. May 21, 2013)

In this case, the court considered Plaintiffs’ motion “to compel Defendants to meet and confer with respect to establishing an agreed protocol for implementing the use of predictive coding software” and for an order that if the parties could not agree on an ESI protocol, that each side would submit their proposal for the court’s determination as to which should be adopted.  Although Defendants initially objected to meeting and conferring with Plaintiffs and their experts based on Plaintiffs’ expert’s prior work for Defendants in the same case, the issue was ultimately resolved when Defendants indicated they were prepared to meet and confer (perhaps motivated by the court’s denial of their motion to disqualify Plaintiffs’ experts).  Despite the relatively simple resolution of Plaintiffs’ motion to compel, the parties’ arguments raised interesting questions related to the level of cooperation required when one side has chosen to utilize predictive coding.

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Court Orders Adverse Inference for Failure to Prevent Automatic Deletion


Pillay v. Millard Refrigerated Servs., Inc., No. 09 C 5725, 2013 WL 2251727 (N.D. Ill. May 22, 2013)

In this case, the court granted Plaintiff’s motion for an adverse inference instruction where Defendant failed to prevent the automatic deletion of relevant data despite notice of impending litigation and receipt of a specific preservation notice, sent directly to Defendant’s general counsel.

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U.S. International Trade Commission Adopts e-Discovery Rules

Posted in NEWS & UPDATES

The U.S. International Trade Commission has adopted “final rules related to its e-discovery practices.”  “The new rules will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and are applicable to investigations instituted 30 days after publication in the Federal Register”—a Federal Register notice was issued on May 15, 2013.

The newly adopted rules address issues including the discovery of inaccessible information and limitations to discovery similar to those found in Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C).  The newly adopted rules also add new provisions addressing privileged information and work product, including requiring the production of privilege logs and providing procedures for addressing the inadvertent production of privileged materials.

For more information, visit the Commission’s website, here.

Case Update: For Spoliation, Court Orders $250,000,000 “to be applied as a credit against Rambus’s [$349 million] judgment against SK hynix”


SK Hynix, Inc. v. Rambus, Inc., No. C-00-20905 RMW, 2013 WL 1915865 (N.D. Cal. May 8, 2013)

In this ongoing patent infringement action, a major question has been whether Rambus’s destruction of documents constituted spoliation and, if so, what sanctions should be imposed. Different courts considering the same facts (but involving different plaintiffs) came to different conclusions.  Upon its initial consideration of the question, the district court in the Northern District of California determined that “Rambus had not spoliated documents” and that there was “no factual basis for an unclean hands defense” as asserted by SK hynix.  (See summary here.)  A jury subsequently returned verdicts in favor of Rambus and the court therefore “entered final judgment of infringement with respect to ten Rambus patent claims” and awarded judgment of “$349,035,842 after a remittitur plus prejudgment interest, and required SK hynix to pay specified royalties to Rambus on an ongoing basis.”  A district court in the District of Delaware (in a case involving Plaintiff Micron Technology, Inc.) disagreed, however, and found that sanctions were warranted for Rambus’s spoliation of documents.  (See summary here.)  The court therefore declared the patents in suit unenforceable against the plaintiff in that case.

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For Good Cause Shown, Plaintiffs No Longer Required to Utilize Predictive Coding


EORHB, Inc. v. HOA Holdings, LLC, No. 7409-VCL, 2013 WL 1960621 (Del. Ch. May 6, 2013)

Previously, the court ordered the parties to “retain a single discovery vendor to be used by both sides” and to “conduct document review with the assistance of predictive coding.”  (See summary, here.)  On May 6, the court entered a new order, stating that Defendants could retain their chosen vendor and utilize computer assisted review but that the parties would not be required to retain a single vendor to be used by both sides and that “Plaintiffs may conduct document review using traditional review methods.”

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Upcoming Event: eDiscovery Project Management 2013 (organized by eDiscovery Intelligence)

Posted in EVENTS

“Learn how to Bring Agility and Clarity to the Management of your eDiscovery Process”

May 21-22, 2013
Marriot City Center
Pittsburgh, PA

“The mastery of electronic discovery is a necessary component in the changing business of litigation.  The tools for the seamless management of e discovery workflow are imperative for success.  This is not a vendor-led discussion. Rather, it’s two full days of CLE accredited implementable strategy you won’t want to miss.”

You can expect to learn more about: Big data, Information Governance and eDiscovery; Technology Assisted Review; Corporate IT Policies, and The Cross-Border eDiscovery Conundrum.

Join K&L Gates’ Partner Thomas J. Smith and others for a discussion about “Making Your Process Faster, Easier, Safer and More Cost-Effective” and “hear proposals for increased agility in the management of your in-house procedures, making up-front process pay off in the long run.”

To learn more about this conference, or to register, click here.