Category: Case Summaries

1
Collins v. ControlWorx, LLC (M.D. La. 2021)
2
Addi v. Corvias Management-Army, LLC (D. Md. 2021)
3
FTC v. Noland (D. Ariz. Aug. 30, 2021)
4
Novit v. Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (S.D. Ind. 2021)
5
Maxus Liquidating Trust v. YPF (Bankr. D. Del 2021)
6
Huntsman v. Southwest Airlines Co. (N.D. Cal. 2021)
7
Manning v. Safelite Fulfillment, Inc. (D.N.J. 2021)
8
Hinrichs v. Allstate Insurance Co. (W.D. Wash. July 20, 2021)
9
Axis Insurance Company v. American Specialty Insurance & Risk Services, Inc. (N.D. Ind. 2021)
10
Doe v. Purdue University (N.D. Ind. July 2, 2021)

Collins v. ControlWorx, LLC (M.D. La. 2021)

Key Insight:

Defendant filed a Motion to Compel Plaintiff to produce audio recordings, hard drives, social media posts. Defendants’ Motion was granted. At least a portion of the data that Plaintiff was obligated to produce had been destroyed and/or missing due to a flood. After Plaintiff informed it of us, Defendant agreed to provide Plaintiff with an extension of time to correct his deficient discovery responses. Contingent on time for Plaintiff to allow his deposition to be retaken.

In his Response to Defendant’s Motion, Plaintiff did not assert that he complied with his discovery obligations but rather than production of the information sought was unreasonably cumulative or duplicative. For approximately 18 requests for production, Plaintiff failed to provide a response or objection, and failed to timely supplement his responses.

The Court granted largely Defendant’s Motion to Compel, ordering Plaintiff to respond to its requests for production, and supplement his responses to interrogatories, but also limiting Plaintiff’s responses to documents that would not require disclosure of attorney-client privilege and/or information that was not overly broad. Moreover, the Court ordered Plaintiff to appear for an additional supplemental deposition and also state that electronically stored information relevant to the litigation was actually destroyed (due to flooding) and submit the damaged storage devises for expert inspection. The

respective parties were responsible for their own attorney’s fees and costs regarding the discovery issues.

Nature of Case: Employment Discrimination, Family and Medical Leave Act

Electronic Data Involved: Hard Drives, Audio Recordings, Social Media Posts

Case Summary

Addi v. Corvias Management-Army, LLC (D. Md. 2021)

Key Insight: Work-product privilege protects documents prepared in anticipation by a party, its attorneys, or its consultants and agents. A consulting expert’s analysis and reports is protected work product. However, a consulting expert becomes a fact witness when it also acts a scheduler, inspector, or remediator. No protection would apply to those activities. The capacity in which the third party was acting will determine whether documents are work product. Raw data is not protected. However, the decision that certain subsets or compilations of data are relevant in advising the client or preparing the defense is protected. Opinions regarding such information to assist in advising or preparing the defense are also protected.

Nature of Case: Class Action, Tort

Electronic Data Involved: Raw Data, Report Logs, Electronic Documents Generally

Case Summary

FTC v. Noland (D. Ariz. Aug. 30, 2021)

Key Insight: The day after learning about the FTC’s investigation, defendant Noland instructed his team to use encrypted communications platforms, Signal and ProtonMail, turn on the “auto-delete” function, and to stop using their previous work-related messaging platforms. During depositions, Noland and others failed to disclose the use of encrypted communications platforms and deleted the encrypted messaging apps from the phones so that no communications could be retrieved. The court granted the FTC’s request for an adverse inference based on defendants’ intentional spoliation of evidence under FRCP 37(e)(2), finding the most decisive factor in its analysis was the timing of installation of the apps – just one day after Noland learned the FTC was investigating him. There was a coordinated effort among Noland and his leadership team to deprive the FTC of the use of the encrypted messages in the litigation – by installing the app, using the “auto-delete” function, failing to disclose the use of the app, and deleting the app the day before the phones were to be examined – resulting in an “outrageous maneuver that raises a strong inference of bad faith.”

Nature of Case: FTC, Pyramid schemes

Electronic Data Involved: Encrypted messaging platforms

Case Summary

Novit v. Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (S.D. Ind. 2021)

Key Insight: Plaintiffs filed a motion for sanctions on spoliation related to the video footage from a school bus where plaintiffs’ child suffered injuries. Defendant permitted plaintiffs to view the video of the incident and also produced the footage to plaintiffs in discovery. Plaintiffs later asked for extended video coverage from the date of the incident. Defendant did not have additional video because the bus hard drive had either been looped over, wiped clean, or used for parts. The court noted, “a spoliation sanction is proper only when a party has a duty to preserve evidence because he knew, or should have known, that litigation was imminent, and the movant demonstrates that the evidence was destroyed in bad faith, with the intent to deprive another party of the information’s use in the litigation.” Thus, the court found no evidence to support a blanket accusation of spoliation when defendant preserved the relevant footage, acted reasonably by saving the relevant portion, and placing the bus hard drive back into operation.

Nature of Case: Personal injury, Civil rights

Electronic Data Involved: Video footage

Case Summary

Maxus Liquidating Trust v. YPF (Bankr. D. Del 2021)

Key Insight: The parties had cross motions requesting the production of purportedly (attorney-client) privileged documents at the end of discovery; the Defendants had been producing documents on a categorical basis. The Court had previously issued three discovery opinions that denied the assertions of privilege by Defendant(s). Defendants failed to rebut an argument by Plaintiff (opposing party) that the documents sought were confidential, accordingly, the Court order them to be produced.

In a final argument, Defendants advocated for the requested documents being produced on a document-by-document basis. The Court rejected this given Defendants previous agreement to produce the documents on a categorical basis; the Court granted the Plaintiff’s request for the production of documents.

Considering Defendants’ Motion, the Court implied that it was hypocritical for Defendants to be seeking privileged documents from Plaintiff that were similar to the same documents that they argued against producing to Plaintiff on the basis of privilege. Regardless, the Court ordered Plaintiff to produce some the purportedly privileged documents sought by Defendant. The documents that the Court stated that Plaintiff need not produce were documents not publicly available from an investigation and the tangentially related bankruptcy case concerning Plaintiff.

Nature of Case: Adversarial Bankruptcy

Electronic Data Involved: N/A

Case Summary

Huntsman v. Southwest Airlines Co. (N.D. Cal. 2021)

Key Insight: The parties sought clarification on the scope of plaintiff’s discovery seeking documents relating to Southwest’s practices for verifying military leave. Defendant objected to the discovery requests on the basis of relevance, scope and proportionality, but agreed to conduct a phased search of its custodians’ data for responsive documents. The court agreed with defendant that the requests as written were overbroad given that the certified class was focused on an alleged failure to pay for short-term leave and plaintiff was not entitled to all potential USERRA violations. “Southwest’s approach to using keyword searches and technology-assisted review in tandem does not offend the court’s expectation that the parties conduct a reasonable inquiry as required by the rules.”

Nature of Case: Class action under USERRA

Electronic Data Involved: Email

Case Summary

Manning v. Safelite Fulfillment, Inc. (D.N.J. 2021)

Key Insight: Defendants filed a motion for spoliation sanctions under FRCP 37(e) based on plaintiff’s deletion of certain Facebook messages and emails. Plaintiff claimed he deleted the messages to free up memory on his mobile phone. The court adopted the magistrate judge’s report and recommendations, finding plaintiff’s failure to preserve certain ESI caused prejudice to defendants warranting relief, but did not conclude that plaintiff did so with an intent to deprive defendants the use of the information in litigation. Plaintiff had an obligation to preserve the ESI; he deleted certain messages after he filed his lawsuit; and took no affirmative measures to preserve the ESI despite a duty to do so. The court allowed the introduction of a jury question on the destruction of some of the ESI evidence but reserved ruling on harsher sanctions.

Nature of Case: Employment discrimination

Electronic Data Involved: Facebook, Email

Case Summary

Hinrichs v. Allstate Insurance Co. (W.D. Wash. July 20, 2021)

Key Insight: Defendant sought discovery of plaintiff’s social media, e-mails and text messages, and recommended an e-discovery vendor to search and collect the ESI, at defendant’s expense. The court granted the motion, finding the requests are not overly broad since plaintiff placed her lifestyle and activities prior to the accident directly at issue by claiming that her prior activities far exceed what she can do now. There is no burden to plaintiff since defendant has offered to hire an e-discovery vendor to access and retrieve the data. Any privacy issues can be addressed pursuant to a stipulated protective order.

Nature of Case: Personal injury – insurance bad faith

Electronic Data Involved: Social Media, Email, Text Messages

Case Summary

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