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.