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


Avoid “Discovery About Discovery” with Cooperation


Ruiz-Bueno, III v. Scott, No. 2:12-cv-0809, 2013 WL 6055402 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 15, 2013) In this case, Plaintiffs moved to compel answers to their questions about Defendants’ efforts to respond to Plaintiffs’ discovery requests, including what procedures were undertaken to search for responsive electronically stored information.  Defendants objected, arguing that such information was not within… Continue Reading

Criminal Defendant Entitled to Production of Metadata Related to Police Report


United States v. Tutt, No. 13-cr-20396, 2013 WL 5707791 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 21, 2013) In this case, the court granted in part Defendant’s Motion for Issuance of a Subpoena Duces Tecum seeking production of the arresting officers’ personnel files and disciplinary records as well as the metadata associated with an arresting officer’s police report.  Defendant… Continue Reading

Court Orders Imaging to Ensure Preservation of Self-Proclaimed Hacker’s ESI


Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC v. Southfork Sec., Inc.

Plaintiff sought an ex parte temporary restraining order requiring Defendants to disable their website and remove information related to allegedly infringing software and also sought to create a forensic image of one defendant’s hard drive(s) to ensure preservation. The court granted Plaintiff’s application, relying in part on Defendants’ self-identification as hackers. Upon learning the at-issue source code had already been released, however, the court denied Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction and partially dissolved the TRO, but continued to retain images of the hard drives.

No Sanctions for Spoliation of Emails in Former Officers’ Personal Accounts Absent Evidence of Bad Faith or Prejudice


Puerto Rico Tel. Co., Inc. v. San Juan Cable, LLC, No. 11-2135 (GAG/BJM), 2013 WL 5533711 (D.P.R. Oct. 7, 2013) Plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to preserve relevant emails from the personal accounts of three former officers (the CEO, General Manager, and Senior Vice President) and sought an adverse inference instruction.  While the court agreed that… Continue Reading

Court Concludes that “at least in the Seventh Circuit,” the Duty to Preserve is Triggered “when a litigant knew or should have known that litigation was imminent” as Opposed to “Reasonably Foreseeable”


In re Pradaxa (Dabigatran Etexilate) Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2385, 2013 WL 5377164 (S.D. Ill. Sept. 25, 2013)

In this case, the court found that the duty to preserve arose after the at-issue information was destroyed in accordance with Defendant’s document retention policies and that an adverse inference was not warranted. Considering the proper standard to employ when assessing when the duty to preserve is triggered, the court concluded that “the duty to preserve is triggered only when a litigant knew or should have known that litigation was imminent (at least in the Seventh Circuit).”

E.D. Michigan Approves Model Order Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information & a Meet and Confer Checklist for Pilot Use


The judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan have announced the approval, “on a pilot period basis,” of a Model Order Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information and a Rule 26(f) meet and confer checklist.  “It is within the judicial officer’s discretion whether these materials may be… Continue Reading

Court Declines to Compel Response to “Ultra-Broad” Request for Passwords and User Names or Allow “Exhaustive Forensic Examination” of Computers


NOLA Spice Designs, LLC v. Haydel Enters., Inc., No. 12-2515, 2013 WL 3974535 (E.D. La. Aug. 2, 2013) In this trademark infringement case, Defendant sought to compel Plaintiff and its principal (a third-party defendant) to produce “passwords and user names to all online web sites related to the issues in this litigation” and to compel… Continue Reading

Magistrate Judge Declines to Presume Prejudice, Recommends Denial of Motion for Sanctions


Herrmann v. Rain Link, Inc., No. 11-1123-RDR, 2013 WL 4028759 (D. Kan. Aug. 7, 2013)

Plaintiff sought sanctions for Defendants’ allegedly intentional spoliation of evidence and argued that prejudice could be presumed. The Magistrate Judge declined to do so and also found that Defendants’ spoliation was merely negligent. Thus, absent a showing of actual prejudice, the Magistrate Judge recommended that Plaintiff’s motion be denied.

Plaintiff Ordered to Adhere to “Document Production Agreement” Despite Difficulty Finding an “Inexpensive” Technology Provider


Northstar Marine, Inc. v. Huffman, CA 13-00037-WS-C (S.D. Ala. Aug. 27, 2013) Despite Plaintiff’s assertion that it was “having difficulty locating an inexpensive provider of electronic search technology to assist with discovery” the court granted Defendants’ motion to enforce Plaintiff’s compliance with the parties’ document production agreement which, among other things, required each party to… Continue Reading

Citing Proportionality, Court Concludes it would be “Senseless” to Require Plaintiff to “Go to Great Lengths” to Produce Evidence Defendants are “Able to Do Without”


Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co. Ltd., No. 12-CV-0630-LHK (PSG), 2013 WL 4426512 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2013)

Relying on the “all-to-often [sic] ignored discovery principle” of proportionality the court declined to compel Plaintiff “to go to great lengths” to produce information that the defendants could “do without.”

Court Warns “Continuing Problems” with Document Production Will Result in Order to Retain an e-Discovery Vendor


Logtale, Ltd. v. IKOR, Inc., No. C-11-05452 CW (DMR), 2013 WL 3967750 (N.D. Cal. July 31, 2013) Plaintiff sought to compel Defendants’ production of all responsive documents and also sought sanctions, including attorneys’ fees and an order requiring Defendants “to retain an e-discovery vendor to conduct a thorough and adequate search for responsive electronic documents.” … Continue Reading

Willful or Grossly Negligent Destruction of ESI Allows Presumption of Prejudice


Sekisui Am. Corp. v. Hart, —F. Supp. 2d—, 2013 WL 4116322 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 15, 2013)

Previously in this case, the Magistrate Judge declined to impose spoliation sanctions for Plaintiff’s deletion of emails and other ESI belonging to two important custodians absent a showing that the defendants were prejudiced by the destruction. Upon Defendants’ objections, the district court reversed the denial of sanctions and imposed an adverse inference and monetary sanctions. In doing so, the court reasoned that prejudice was presumed because the evidence was destroyed intentionally and explained that no showing of malice was required.

Timing of Defendant’s Actions Weighs Heavily in Analysis of Spoliation Sanctions


Barrette Outdoor Living, Inc. v. Michigan Resin Representatives, No. 11-13335, 2013 WL 3983230 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 1, 2013) For Defendant’s bad faith failure to preserve his cellular phone and his deletion of 270,000 files from his personal laptop using scrubbing software, the district court adopted the recommendations of the Magistrate Judge and ordered monetary sanctions… Continue Reading

Citing the Lack of a Clear Distinction between the Two Tiers of Discovery, Court Adopts “Practical Approach” for Addressing Disputes over Scope


DCP Midstream LP v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., —P.3d—, 2013 WL 3225846 (Colo. June 24, 2013) In this breach of contract case, the Colorado Supreme Court addressed the court’s role in managing the scope of discovery under Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1)—which was amended in 2002 “to conform to its federal counterpart.”  The court concluded… Continue Reading

Stored Communications Act Does Not Apply to Unauthorized Access to Previously Opened Emails


Lazette v. Kulmatycki, —F. Supp. 2d—, 2013 WL 2455937 (N.D. Ohio June 5, 2013) When Plaintiff’s employment ended and she returned her company-issued Blackberry, she believed that she had deleted her personal email account.  She was mistaken.  Thereafter, her former supervisor, without her knowledge or authorization, proceeded to access and read her personal emails—48,000 of them—during… Continue Reading

No Sanctions for Routine Deletion of Text Messages “so as not to unduly encumber” Cell Phones


PTSI, Inc. v. Haley,—A.3d—, 2013 WL 2285109 (Pa. Super. Ct. May 24, 2013)

Plaintiff sued its former employees after they opened a competing sports training facility. In the course of litigation, Plaintiff sought sanctions for Defendants’ alleged spoliation of ESI, including text messages. The trial court found that “the level of importance and complexity of the issues did not weigh in favor of imposing sanctions and that the deleted material was not relevant or important to its decision” and dismissed the claim for sanctions. On appeal, the appellate court found no abuse of discretion and affirmed the order.

No Sanctions for Deletion of Email Folder belonging to “Perhaps the Key Witness” Absent Evidence of Prejudice


Sekisui Am. Corp. v. Hart, No. 12 Civ. 3479(SAS)(FM), 2013 WL 2951924 (S.D.N.Y. June 10, 2013)

In this case, the court considered Plaintiff’s “at least” negligent deletion of “the entire active email folder of an important witness–perhaps the key witness–at a time when [it] obviously knew that it might commence a lawsuit,” but declined to impose the requested adverse inference–or any sanction–absent a sufficient showing that “relevant information potentially helpful to [the defendants] [wa]s no longer available.”

When is an Adverse Inference Instruction Not a Sanction?


Mali v. Fed. Ins. Co., 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.

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


Giacchetto v. Patchogue-Medford Union Free School Dist., 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.”

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… Continue Reading

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


Dornoch Holdings Int’l, LLC v. Conagra Foods Lamb Weston, Inc., 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.

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.