Category: Case Summaries

1
Court Orders Two Permissive Adverse Inferences at Trial
2
Court Compels Cooperation Regarding Search Terms
3
Court Finds “Rather Broad” Request to be Proportional Upon Factor-by-Factor Analysis
4
No Sanctions for Deletion where Files were Recoverable or Duplicated Elsewhere
5
Court Shifts Costs to Discover Emails from Backup Tapes
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Statements of Information Withheld Comply with Amended Rule 34, Motion to Compel Denied
7
Use of Predictive Coding was “Reasonable Inquiry,” Motion to Compel Additional Discovery Denied
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A Responding Party Cannot be Forced to Use Technology Assisted Review (Predictive Coding)
9
Reliance on Caselaw Analyzing Prior Version of Rule 26 “Inexplicable” and “Inexcusable,” Sanctions Imposed
10
Second Circuit: Warrant may not Compel Production of Emails from Ireland

Court Orders Two Permissive Adverse Inferences at Trial

First Fin. Sec., Inc. v. Freedom Equity Grp., LLC, No. 15-cv-1893-HRL, 2016 WL 5870218 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 7, 2016)

In this case, the court imposed two permissive adverse inference instructions against Defendant at trial.  The first adverse inference was ordered pursuant to FRCP 37(e)(2) for Defendant’s failure to preserve text messages.  The second was imposed pursuant to FRCP 37(b)(2) (authorizing the court to “remedy the violation of a discovery order with a ‘just’ sanction”), upon the court’s conclusion that Defendant’s failure to produce certain native-format data, despite being repeatedly ordered to do so, resulted in substantial prejudice to the Plaintiff.  In so concluding, the court rejected the argument that it was required to find bad faith, reasoning instead that it could impose such a sanction upon a determination of gross negligence.

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Court Compels Cooperation Regarding Search Terms

Pyle v. Selective Ins. Co. of Am., No. 2:16-cv-335, 2016 WL 5661749 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 30, 2016)

In this case, the court granted Defendant’s motion to compel Plaintiff’s cooperation regarding search terms intended to identify responsive emails requested by the plaintiff.  Notably, in response to Defendant’s motion, Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Defendant had “cited no authority to support its request, nor identified any burden that it face[d] in locating and producing the requested emails.”  Reasoning that Plaintiff’s argument “totally misses the mark” the court concluded that the parties must confer:

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Court Finds “Rather Broad” Request to be Proportional Upon Factor-by-Factor Analysis

First Niagara Risk Mgmt., Inc. v. Folino, —F.R.D.—, 2016 WL 4247654 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2016)

In this case, the court addressed the parties’ disagreement regarding a proper scope of discovery and Plaintiff’s related motion to compel the search of Defendant’s electronic devices, to be conducted by an independent e-Discovery vendor utilizing search terms proposed by the plaintiff.  Upon finding the requested information relevant and following consideration of each of the proportionality factors identified in recently amended Rule 26(b)(1), the court granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel.

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No Sanctions for Deletion where Files were Recoverable or Duplicated Elsewhere

Erhart v. Bofl Holding, Inc., No. 15-cv-02287-BAS(NLS), 2016 WL 5110453 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2016)

In this case, the court declined to impose spoliation sanctions for Plaintiff’s deletion of ESI from numerous electronic devices where the majority of the information at issue could be recovered or was duplicated in another location (including the defendant’s systems) and thus was not “destroyed,” and where the prejudice resulting from the few files that could not be recovered was minimal.

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Court Shifts Costs to Discover Emails from Backup Tapes

Elkharwily v. Franciscan Health Sys., No. 3:15-cv-05579-RJB, 2016 WL 4061575 (W.D. Wash. July 29, 2016)

In this case, Defendant successfully established that retrieving archived emails from disaster recovery backup tapes “would result in an undue burden and cost” pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(B).  Although Plaintiff was unable to establish good cause to compel production, the court indicated that the archived emails were nonetheless “‘discoverable’ under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1)” and ordered that “upon a request by Plaintiff, Defendant should facilitate access to the discovery” but that Plaintiff would bear the expense, payable in advance.

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Statements of Information Withheld Comply with Amended Rule 34, Motion to Compel Denied

Rowan v. Sunflower Elec. Power Corp., No. 15-cv-9227-JWL-TJJ, 2016 WL 3743102 (D. Kan. July 13, 2016)

In this case, the court addressed, among other things, the sufficiency of Defendant’s objections to Plaintiff’s Requests for Production and in particular its compliance with the new requirements of amended Fed. R. Civ. P. 34, effective as of December 1, 2015. Upon review of the objections and Defendant’s statements of information withheld (as expressed by Defendant’s identification of its search parameters), the court concluded that Defendant’s responses were sufficient and counseled Plaintiff to make additional inquiries in future discovery to the extent he desired additional information.

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Use of Predictive Coding was “Reasonable Inquiry,” Motion to Compel Additional Discovery Denied

Dynamo Holdings Ltd. P’ship v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, No. 2685-11, 8393-12, 2016 WL 4204067 (T.C. July 13, 2016)

In September 2014, the court approved Petitioners’ use of predictive coding to identify potentially responsive and privileged data contained on two backup tapes, despite Respondent’s objection that the technology was “unproven.” (Read a summary of that opinion here.)  At that time, the court indicated that Respondent could move to compel additional discovery in the event he believed that Petitioners’ response was insufficient.   Accordingly, after Petitioners denied Respondent’s request for production of additional documents containing certain specified search hits, Respondent moved to compel.  Concluding that Petitioners’ reliance on predictive coding satisfied the requirement for a “reasonable inquiry,” the court denied the motion.

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A Responding Party Cannot be Forced to Use Technology Assisted Review (Predictive Coding)

Hyles v. New York City, 10 Civ. 3119 (AT)(AJP) (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 1, 2016)

In this case, the court addressed the question of whether the City could be “forced” to use technology assisted review (predictive coding) to identify discoverable information when the City itself preferred to use keyword searching. “The short answer [was] a decisive ‘NO.’”

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Reliance on Caselaw Analyzing Prior Version of Rule 26 “Inexplicable” and “Inexcusable,” Sanctions Imposed

Fulton v. Livingston Fin., LLC, No. C15-0574JLR, 2016 WL 3976558 (W.D. Wash. July 25, 2016)

In this opinion, the court imposed sanctions for counsel’s misrepresentations of law and fact, including his citation to caselaw analyzing outdated standards under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), which was substantially affected by the December 2015 amendments. Calling counsel’s reliance on caselaw applying outdated standards “inexplicable” and “inexcusable” where the “December 1, 2015 amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) ‘dramatically changed’ what information is discoverable,” the court ultimately imposed monetary sanctions (payment of Plaintiff’s fees and costs for defending the at-issue motion) and ordered counsel to supply “senior members” of his firm with the “offending brief” with the explanation that “the court is entering sanctions . . . for quoting provisions of the civil rules that are badly out of date, and also making direct misrepresentations to the court.”  Declining to also require the attorney to report the sanction on future pro hac vice applications, the court did order that if a federal court threatened or imposed sanctions on the attorney at any time in the next five years, the attorney must “immediately disclose to that court the sanctions imposed by this court by providing that court with a copy of this order and the offending briefing.”

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Second Circuit: Warrant may not Compel Production of Emails from Ireland

In re a Warrant to Search a Certain E-mail Account Controlled & Maintained by Microsoft Corp., No. 14-2985 (2d Cir. July 14, 2016)

In this case, Microsoft Corporation appealed orders from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denying its motion to quash a warrant issued under § 2703 of the Stored Communications Act and holding Microsoft in contempt for “refusing to execute the Warrant on the government’s behalf.”  The warrant directed Microsoft to “seize and produce the contents of an e-mail account that it maintains for a customer who uses the company’s electronic communications services.” Although Microsoft produced the relevant customer’s non-content information which was stored in the United States, it refused to access and import data that was stored and maintained in Ireland.

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