Electronic Discovery Law

Legal issues, news and best practices relating to the discovery of electronically stored information.

 

1
Citing “Diminishing Returns,” Court Declines to Compel Additional Discovery
2
Sanctions Imposed for Failure to Preserve Call Recordings
3
“Close” Question of Intentional Spoliation Sent to the Jury
4
Court Finds Foreign Discovery “Marginally Relevant” and “Not Proportional,” Declines to Compel Search
5
Despite Intentional Spoliation, $25 Million Verdict Stands
6
Court Orders Two Permissive Adverse Inferences at Trial
7
Court Compels Cooperation Regarding Search Terms
8
Court Finds “Rather Broad” Request to be Proportional Upon Factor-by-Factor Analysis
9
No Sanctions for Deletion where Files were Recoverable or Duplicated Elsewhere
10
Court Shifts Costs to Discover Emails from Backup Tapes

Citing “Diminishing Returns,” Court Declines to Compel Additional Discovery

Armstrong Pump, Inc. v. Hartman, No. 10-CV-446S, 2016 WL 7208753 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 13, 2016)

“Implicit in both the language and the spirit of the 2015 Amendments is the obligation, at any stage of a case, to prevent parties from expending increasing time and energy pursuing diminishing returns.”

In this case, despite having viewed all of the at-issue documents and printing “approximately half of the total pages” (albeit under strict protocols), Plaintiff sought to compel “formal production” of all of the documents pursuant to the parties’ protective order, arguing that the documents did not contain “actual programming.” Defendant argued that the documents were “functionally equivalent to source code” and should not be subject to production.  Ultimately, the Court reasoned that discovery had “reached the point of diminishing returns” and declined to compel production, with limited exceptions.

Read More

Sanctions Imposed for Failure to Preserve Call Recordings

Sec. Alarm Fin. Enters., L.P. v. Alarm Protection Tech., LLC, No. 3:13-cv-00102-SLG, 2016 WL 7115911 (D. Alaska Dec. 6, 2016)

In this case, Plaintiff was sanctioned pursuant to Rule 37(e), as amended on December 1, 2015, for its failure to preserve relevant customer call recordings.

Plaintiff alleged that Defendant had “illegally ‘poached’” its customers and defamed the plaintiff. Defendant, in turn, alleged tortious interference with its contractual relationships and defamation by the plaintiff.  In the course of discovery, Plaintiff produced approximately 150 customer call recordings (out of “thousands”) that were “generally favorable” to it but, when asked, was unable to produce any others and claimed that the recordings were lost, apparently as the result of the “normal operation of a data retention policy.”  Defendant sought sanctions pursuant to amended Rule 37(e).

Read More

“Close” Question of Intentional Spoliation Sent to the Jury

Cahill v. Dart, No. 13-cv-361, 2016 WL 7034139 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 2, 2016)

Following Plaintiff’s arrest for driving on a suspended license, an officer claimed he observed Plaintiff dropping a small package of cocaine while at a “County lockup” and charged him with felony possession.  Although defense counsel acted quickly to ensure preservation of surveillance video that Plaintiff believed would prove his innocence (because he claimed that he did not drop the package), only a portion of the video—which began after the package was on the floor—was available. After the charges were eventually dismissed, Plaintiff brought the present lawsuit and moved for sanctions.  The magistrate judge found that the failure to preserve was grossly negligent and caused substantial prejudice and recommended that Defendants be barred from making arguments or presenting evidence that the lost portion of the tape showed Plaintiff dropping the cocaine, but would allow testimony from one officer that he saw it happen.  Plaintiff objected.  Thereafter, the District Court adopted the recommendations of the magistrate judge, with modifications, concluding that the jury should be informed that the video was missing because of Defendants’ failure to fulfill their duty to preserve.  The court also ordered that Plaintiff would be allowed to argue that the destruction was intentional and that the jury would be instructed that IF they agreed, they must presume that the lost evidence was unfavorable to the defendants.

Read More

Court Finds Foreign Discovery “Marginally Relevant” and “Not Proportional,” Declines to Compel Search

In re Bard IVC Filters Prod. Liab. Litig., —F.R.D.—, 2016 WL 4943393 (D. Ariz. Sept. 16, 2016)

In this case, the parties disagreed on the discoverability of communications between Defendants’ foreign subsidiaries and divisions and foreign regulators regarding the filters at issue in the case.  Following analysis of the effects of the December 1, 2015 amendments on Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) and of the specific facts of the case, US District Court Judge David Campbell—Chair of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure—determined that the at-issue communications were “only marginally relevant” and was persuaded that “the burden of [the] foreign discovery would be substantial.”  Thus, the court concluded that Defendants were not required to search their foreign entities for communications with foreign regulators.

Read More

Despite Intentional Spoliation, $25 Million Verdict Stands

BMG Rights Mgmt. LLC v. Cox Commc’ns, Inc., —F. Supp. 3d—, 2016 WL 4224964 (E.D. Va. Aug. 8, 2016)

In this copyright infringement case, Plaintiff was found to have intentionally spoliated material evidence, resulting in sanctions. Specifically, Defendant was allowed to address the issue of spoliation in its opening statement and the jury was instructed that it may, but was not required to, consider “the absence” of earlier versions of source code relied upon by Plaintiff’s agent to identify and provide notice of infringement by Defendant’s customers.  Despite the sanctions, Plaintiff was awarded $25 million upon the jury’s determination that Defendant—a conduit internet service provider—was liable for willful contributory infringement of Plaintiff’s copyrighted musical works.  In a motion for a new trial, Defendant argued, among other things, that the sanctions were insufficient.  The district judge rejected that argument (and others), denied the motion, and entered final judgement in accordance with the verdict.

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Copyright © 2017, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.