Archive: December 10, 2007

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District Court Sustains Plaintiff’s Objection to Magistrate Judge’s Order Requiring Restoration and Production of Database Prepared in Separate Litigation
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Sixth Circuit Stays District Court’s Order Allowing Plaintiffs’ Computer Expert, Escorted by United States Marshall, to Inspect and Forensically Image Tennessee State Agencies’ Computer Systems

District Court Sustains Plaintiff’s Objection to Magistrate Judge’s Order Requiring Restoration and Production of Database Prepared in Separate Litigation

Best Buy Stores, L.P. v. Developers Diversified Realty Corp., 247 F.R.D. 567 (D. Minn. 2007)

Best Buy sued its landlords for fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and declaratory judgment, claiming that they overcharged insurance and maintenance costs for common areas.  On September 5, 2007, the magistrate judge ruled on a number of discovery motions filed by the parties.  (A copy of the September 5, 2007 Order is available here.)  Among other things, the magistrate judge concluded that a database prepared by Best Buy in the case of Odom v. Microsoft Corp. (the "Odom database") was reasonably accessible despite a cost of at least $124,000 to restore the data to searchable form.  The magistrate judge found that $124,000 was a reasonable cost considering the potential breach of contract damages exceeding $800,000, the potential for enhanced damages associated with Best Buy’s fraud claims, and the potential long-term economic impact of the outcome of the litigation on all parties.  Further, the magistrate judge noted that "discovery in the Odom case is complete [and] the database has … been archived by an e-discovery vendor."  Thus, the magistrate judge ordered Best Buy to restore the Odom database to permit discovery by defendants in this case.

Best Buy objected, explaining that discovery in the Odom litigation was not complete, the database had not been archived, and "the data can only be restored from original sources such as backup tapes."  Thus, Best Buy argued that the magistrate judge clearly erred in determining that the Odom database was reasonably accessible and ordering its discovery.

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Sixth Circuit Stays District Court’s Order Allowing Plaintiffs’ Computer Expert, Escorted by United States Marshall, to Inspect and Forensically Image Tennessee State Agencies’ Computer Systems

John B. v. Goetz, No. 07-6373 (6th Cir. Nov. 26, 2007 and Dec. 7, 2007)

This case is a class action on behalf of roughly 550,000 children seeking to enforce their rights under federal law to various medical services, including early and periodic screenings for their physical well being, and dental and behavioral health needs.  Defendants in the case include Tennessee state officials who are in charge of the state programs for these services.

On October 9 and 10, 2007, following a series of conferences and hearings (including a one-week evidentiary hearing on e-discovery issues), the district court issued a 187-page Memorandum and accompanying Order granting plaintiffs’ motion to compel defendants to produce various electronically stored information (“ESI”).  The district court’s Memorandum and Order addressed search terms, key custodians, claims of undue burden and privilege, spoliation, sanctions and cost-shifting.  The district court also sharply criticized the defendants’ preservation and production methods, and ordered the production of all metadata and deleted information.  Further, the district court ordered that plaintiffs’ computer expert “shall be present for the [d]efendants’ ESI production and shall provide such other services to the defendants as are necessary to produce the metadata, as ordered by the Court.”  Additional background on the district court’s October 9 and 10 Memorandum and Order, with links to the 187-page Memorandum, is available in our previous blog entry. The district court subsequently appointed a monitor (former United States Magistrate Judge Ronald J. Hedges of the District of New Jersey) to oversee the court-ordered ESI production.

Defendants moved for reconsideration and/or clarification of various issues addressed in the district court’s October 9 and 10 Memorandum and Order, including the plaintiffs’ expert’s role in the defendants’ production efforts.  On November 15, 2007, the district court issued an Order (dated November 14) directing that plaintiffs’ expert and the court-appointed monitor shall “forthwith inspect the State’s computer systems and computers of the fifty (50) key custodians that contain information relevant to this action.”  The district court further directed that plaintiffs’ expert or his designee “shall make forensic copies of any computer inspected to ensure the preservation of all existing electronically stored information (“ESI”).”  Finally, the district court ordered that the United States Marshall or his designated deputies should accompany the plaintiffs’ expert to “ensure that this Order is fully executed.”  A copy of the district court’s November 15 Order is available here; a copy of the Order from Westlaw is now available here.

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