Archive: April 9, 2008

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Court Sets Protocol for Forensic Examination of Employment Discrimination Plaintiff’s Home Computers

Court Sets Protocol for Forensic Examination of Employment Discrimination Plaintiff’s Home Computers

Coburn v. PN II, Inc., 2008 WL 879746 (D. Nev. Mar. 28, 2008)

In this employment discrimination case, defendants sought a forensic examination of plaintiff’s home computers.  Defendants explained that the inspection would focus on information relating to Coburn’s employment with defendants, the termination of that employment, allegations or claims Coburn was making in this action, and damages resulting from the actions or inactions of defendants.  Plaintiff did not object generally to a “limited, focused” inspection, but opposed the request because defendants had not set forth a protocol or methodology that would protect her against violations of privilege, privacy and confidentiality interests.

The court found that the burden on plaintiff of such an inspection would be minimal.  It noted that defendants sought only a mirror image or “clone copy” of the hard drive or drives in question, and that defendants had agreed to bear the entire cost of the forensic inspection.  The court cited approvingly the protocol adopted in Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Welles, 60 F.Supp.2d 1050, 1054-55 (S.D. Cal.1999), finding that it offered “a suitable approach for protecting Coburn’s communications with her attorney, and her privacy interests as well as the confidentiality interests of her new employer.”

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