Tag: FRCP 26(c) Protective Orders

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Substance Use Disorder Patient Records: Important Limitations on Disclosure in Litigation or Otherwise
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Collins v. ControlWorx, LLC (M.D. La. 2021)
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Allen v. PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC (D. Md. 2021)
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Hall v. Marriott Int’l, Inc. (S.D. Cal. 2021)
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In re Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine, Losartan, & Irbesartan Prod. Liab. Litig. (D.N.J. 2021)
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Lawson v. Spirit Aerosystems, Inc. (D. Kan. June 18, 2020)
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Lawson v. Spirit Aerosystems (Kansas, 2020)
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Crossman v. Carrington Mortg. Servs., LLC, (M.D. Fla. May 4, 2020)
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Javo Beverage Co. Inc. v. California Extraction Ventures, Inc. (S.D. Cal. 2020).
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Corker v. Costco Wholesale (W.D. Wash. 2020)

Substance Use Disorder Patient Records: Important Limitations on Disclosure in Litigation or Otherwise

Under 42 U.S.C. 290dd-2, federal law requires “records of the identity, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of any patient which are maintained in connection with the performance of any program or activity relating to substance use disorder education, prevention, training, treatment, rehabilitation, or research, which is conducted, regulated, or directly or indirectly assisted by any department or agency of the United States” to be maintained confidentially and disclosed only as provided under this law.  Accordingly, such substance abuse treatment programs and related third-party payers and administration entities should be aware of the restrictions on disclosure and use of patient records relating to certain substance use disorders under this statute and 42 C.F.R. Part 2.  Violations of this regulation may be subject to criminal penalty.  Significantly, this regulation does not compel disclosure of such records even if they fall into permissible circumstances, but rather indicates circumstances in which these records may be disclosed.  Patient consent and/or a court order authorizing disclosure of patient information otherwise prohibited by this regulation is necessary in order to provide this information in response to a subpoena or other legal requirement.

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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

Allen v. PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC (D. Md. 2021)

Key Insight: Plaintiffs sought a protective order to prevent defendant from obtaining ESI from five different social media platforms they were active on. The court found that while a plaintiff’s social media postings could be relevant to a claim for “garden variety” emotional distress damages, some caution was necessary, such that a “deeper dive” into social media postings may be justified only in cases involving “severe and specific emotional distress” allegations. Since plaintiff alleged “garden variety” emotional distress stemming from defendant’s allegedly wrongful conduct, the discovery must be narrowed as follows: “specific references to serious, non-transient emotional distress in connection with the incidents described in their Complaint,” i.e., diagnosable conditions, visits to professionals for treatment of distress, treatment regimens and conversations regarding same; time frame limited from date contained in complaint of onset of difficulties to the date of filing of complaint; production limited to information found in a typical download of data from plaintiffs’ own accounts and plaintiffs “need not engage in extraordinary efforts in obtaining responsive information.”

Nature of Case: Employment discrimination

Electronic Data Involved: Social media posts

Case Summary

Hall v. Marriott Int’l, Inc. (S.D. Cal. 2021)

Key Insight: This is a putative consumer class action alleging that defendant engaged in false and deceptive advertising in the way it represents the prices for its hotel rooms, services, and amenities. The court granted plaintiff’s motion to compel, finding that the revenue data sought by plaintiffs was relevant to damages—in how damages will be ascertained and how a damages model will be provided. Additionally, discovery regarding the fees charged (including: destination, amenity, resort, destination amenity fee, wi-fi, parking, and other fees) were relevant to understand the nature of the fees and the relationship to defendant’s revenues and determine the scope of the case for settlement discussions. The court also ordered defendant to obtain the requested revenue data from franchised hotels if it has a right to access the financial data through an audit or other contractual provision with the franchisee. Policies and procedures and consumer complaints relating to the charging of fees were also ordered to be produced.

Nature of Case: Consumer Class Action

Electronic Data Involved: Financial Data

Case Summary

In re Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine, Losartan, & Irbesartan Prod. Liab. Litig. (D.N.J. 2021)

Key Insight: Defendant claimed that information sought by Plaintiff was discoverable. Plaintiff objected on the basis of confidentiality, and the Court struck Defendant’s confidentiality designations. Specifically, the Court rejected Defendant’s claims that the emails sought contained trade secret and proprietary information, and had the potential to cause it competitive harm. The Court ordered Defendant to use the it’s ruling as an example for dealing with similarly designated documents.

Nature of Case: Diversity, Product Liability

Electronic Data Involved: Email

Case Summary

Lawson v. Spirit Aerosystems, Inc. (D. Kan. June 18, 2020)

Key Insight: Cost shifting of the TAR costs to Plaintiff was warranted based on an analysis of the proportionality factors. Plaintiff was warned to narrow his discovery multiple times, continued to demand overbroad criteria for TAR, was aware of the potential costs of TAR, and was aware the discovery he sought led to largely non-responsive documents. Moreover, Defendant produced responsive documents by conducting its own search and production of documents outside of the TAR process.

Nature of Case: Breach of Contract, Non-Compete

Electronic Data Involved: Electronic Documents Generally

Case Summary

Lawson v. Spirit Aerosystems (Kansas, 2020)

Key Insight: When plaintiff was allowed to dictate defendant’s electronic discovery process, cost shifting to plaintiff is appropriate when electronic discovery performed was not proportionate to the case

Nature of Case: Employment non-compete agreement

Electronic Data Involved: Electronic records

Keywords: Cost shifting, technology assisted review, TAR, aerospace

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Crossman v. Carrington Mortg. Servs., LLC, (M.D. Fla. May 4, 2020)

Key Insight: Defendant moved to compel social media discovery from plaintiff. The court considered plaintiff’s objections based on relevancy, privacy, and vagueness. Plaintiff did not assert a proportionality argument. The court found that the discovery was relevant – “common sense dictates that information in [plaintiff’s] social medial . . . relates to her contemporaneous mental and emotional states and therefore relates to the injuries she claims she suffered at the hands of [defendant], including loss of enjoyment of life.” As to privacy, a confidentiality agreement suffices to protect plaintiff’s interests. As to vagueness, plaintiff’s counsel can “reasonably and naturally” interpret the requests in view of the claims and defenses through communication with opposing counsel. Lastly, an award of expenses was unwarranted since “reasonable minds can differ on the dispute.”

Nature of Case: Employment Discrimination

Electronic Data Involved: Social Media

Case Summary

Corker v. Costco Wholesale (W.D. Wash. 2020)

Key Insight:

Electronic documents should be produced in the form it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably useable form. PDF images of a spreadsheet are not a reasonably usable form due to the functional limitations. While they are readable and searchable, they cannot be sorted or filtered as an original spreadsheet can be. Spreadsheets should be produced in their native form.

A party cannot unilaterally redact a document based on relevance absent a claim of privilege. In cases where the document contains highly confidential commercial information, a protective order may be issued requiring the information not be revealed or only be revealed in a specified way, such as designating it for “counsel eyes only.”

Electronic documents should be produced in the form it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably useable form. PDF images of a spreadsheet are not a reasonably usable form due to the functional limitations. While they are readable and searchable, they cannot be sorted or filtered as an original spreadsheet can be. Spreadsheets should be produced in their native form.

A party cannot unilaterally redact a document based on relevance absent a claim of privilege. In cases where the document contains highly confidential commercial information, a protective order may be issued requiring the information not be revealed or only be revealed in a specified way, such as designating it for “counsel eyes only.”

Nature of Case: Class Action, Unfair Competition

Electronic Data Involved: Spreadsheets

Case Summary

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