eDiscovery Daily Blog

2014 eDiscovery Case Law Year in Review, Part 1

It’s time for our annual review of eDiscovery case law!  We had more than our share of sanctions granted and denied, as well as disputes over admissibility of electronically stored information (ESI), eDiscovery cost reimbursement, and production formats, even disputes regarding eDiscovery fees.  So, as we did last year and the year before that and also the year before that, let’s take a look back at 2014!

Last year, eDiscoveryDaily published 93 posts related to eDiscovery case decisions and activities over the past year, covering 68 unique cases! And, believe it or not, we still didn’t cover every case that had eDiscovery impact. Sometimes, you want to cover other topics too.

Nonetheless, for the cases we did cover, we grouped them into common subject themes and will review them over the next few posts (a few of them could be categorized in more than one category, so we took our best shot). Perhaps you missed some of these? Now is your chance to catch up!


As always, there are numerous disputes about data being produced and not being produced and whether the costs to do so are overly burdensome. Here are twelve cases related to admissibility, the duty to preserve and produce ESI and the proportionality for preserving and producing that ESI:

Split Decision between Plaintiff and Defendant Regarding Search Terms: In Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Giannoulias, Illinois District Judge John F. Grady resolved several motions regarding discovery proceedings in a $114 million lawsuit. Two of the motions concerned search terms for documents and electronically stored information (ESI), in which the plaintiff opposed the defendants’ request for six additional terms to be included in retrieving discovery documents. The court ruled that four additional search terms would be added, while two would be excluded.

Court Grants Motion to Compel Defendant to Produce Documents as Requested and Chronicle Approach: In Home Instead, Inc. v. Florance, following a motion to compel discovery on behalf of the plaintiff, Nebraska Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart ordered the defendant to produce documents requested during discovery and required the defendant to produce a sworn affidavit chronicling the methods used in their search for production of the discovery documents.

Electronic Discovery Dispute Sees Court Requesting Cooperation from Both Parties to Avoid “Court-Ordered Middle Ground”: In Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., a complex discovery dispute arose during the process of this securities action lawsuit revolving around the defendants’ loan products and offerings with regards to a specific consumer class, in which the plaintiffs filed a motion to compel an expanded discovery.

Definition of “Electronic Storage” Considered in Invasion of Privacy Lawsuit: In Cheng v. Romo, the interpretation of laws enacted prior to the modern Internet age served as a deciding factor in the outcome of this invasion of privacy lawsuit, which alleged a violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA).

Government Ordered to Maintain Expensive Custom Database Shared with Criminal Defendant: In the criminal case of United States v. Shabudin, California Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas ordered the Government to continue to provide access to a Relativity Database used by the parties to review documents produced by the Government, instead of discontinuing access for the defendants several weeks before trial was to begin due to budgetary issues.

Portions of Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel eDiscovery Ruled as “Overbroad” and “Moot” Reaffirmed by District Court: In Elkharwily v. Mayo Holding Co., Minnesota District Judge David S. Doty overruled the plaintiff’s objection to a magistrate judge’s order that denied in part the plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery, labeling some requests as overbroad or moot, particularly after the defendant contended it had already produced the requested discovery materials.

Court Denies Defendant’s Request to Image Plaintiff’s PCs Three Years after Termination: In Downs v. Virginia Health Systems, Virginia Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh, citing proportionality and privacy concerns, denied the defendant’s motion to compel the mirror imaging of the Plaintiff’s personal computers nearly three years after she had been terminated.

Court Denies Plaintiff’s Fallback Request for Meet and Confer after Quashing its Subpoena: In Boston Scientific Corporation v. Lee, California Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal found time to preside over a case other than Apple v. Samsung and granted the motion to quash the plaintiff’s subpoena for the defendant’s laptops, refusing the plaintiff’s fallback position to meet and confer and referencing Leave it to Beaver in the process.

Court Rules to Limit Scope of Discovery, Noting that “Searching for ESI is only one discovery tool”: In United States v. Univ. of Neb. at Kearney, Nebraska Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart denied the government’s motion to compel discovery, finding that “ESI is neither the only nor the best and most economical discovery method for obtaining the information the government seeks” and stating that searching for ESI “should not be deemed a replacement for interrogatories, production requests, requests for admissions and depositions”.

Defendant Ordered to Produce Archived Emails Even Though Plaintiff Failed to Produce Theirs: In Finjan, Inc. v. Blue Coat Systems, California Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal granted the plaintiff’s motion ordering the defendant to produce relevant emails from its eight custodians, even though the plaintiff was unable to provide its own archival emails.

Court Determines that Software License Agreement Does Not Eliminate Production Obligation of Video: In Pero v. Norfolk Southern Railway, Co., Tennessee Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, Jr. granted the plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery of a video declining to require the plaintiff to view the video at the defendant’s counsel’s office or obtain a license for the proprietary viewing software, ordering the defendant instead to either produce a laptop with the video loaded on it or to reimburse the plaintiff for the cost of a software license.

Image Isn’t Everything, Court Says, Denying Plaintiff’s Request for Imaging on Defendant’s Hard Drives: In Design Basics, LLC. v. Carhart Lumber Co., Nebraska Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart, after an extensive hearing on the plaintiff’s motion to compel “full disk imaging of Defendant’s hard drives, including Defendant’s POS server, secretaries’ computers, UBS devices. . .”, denied the motion after invoking the mandatory balancing test provided in FRCP Rule 26(b)(2)(C).


Some cases are becoming so contentious that parties (or sometimes the courts themselves) are requesting for discovery on their opponent’s discovery process. Sometimes those requests were granted, sometimes not. Here were six cases in 2014 which involved requests for “discovery on discovery”:

‘Discovery About Discovery’ Motions Lead to Unusual Court Decision: In Ruiz-Bueno v. Scott, a discovery dispute in this wrongful death case arose, leading Ohio Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp to arrive at the unusual decision to direct a party to provide ‘discovery about discovery.’

Ruling on ESI Discovery Dispute Delayed as Court Requests Specific Information: In Worley v. Avanquest North America Inc., a putative class action involving PC security software, California Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler required the defendant to produce further information related to discovery disputes before a ruling would be issued.

Parties’ Failure to Cooperate Sparks Denial of Defendant’s Motion to Reconsider Court Ordered Discovery: In In Cactus Drilling Co. v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co., a largely contentious discovery phase was a major contributor to the decision of Oklahoma Chief District Judge Vicki Miles LaGrange regarding the defendant’s Motion to Reconsider, or Alternately, Motion for Clarification of the Court’s Order.

Plaintiffs Denied Motion to Depose Defendants Regarding ESI Processes Prior to Discovery Requests: In Miller v. York Risk Servs. Grp., Arizona Senior District Judge John W. Sedwick denied the plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel, requesting permission to conduct depositions in order to determine the defendant’s manner and methods used for storing and maintaining Electronically Stored Information (ESI) prior to submitting their discovery requests.

Court Denies Defendant’s Request for Deposition Regarding Plaintiff’s Discovery Search Tools: In Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Hunt Control Sys., Inc., New Jersey Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III granted the plaintiff’s protective order to prevent the defendant from proceeding with a new deposition to review whether the plaintiff had used “appropriate search tools for ESI discovery,” after the requested discovery documents had already been produced.

Despite 18 Missing Emails in Production, Court Denies Request for “Discovery on Discovery”: In Freedman v. Weatherford Int’l, New York Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV denied the plaintiff’s request to, among other things, require the defendant to produce “certain reports comparing the electronic search results from discovery in this action to the results from prior searches” – despite the fact that the plaintiff identified 18 emails that the defendant did not produce that were ultimately produced by a third party.

We’re just getting started! Tomorrow, we will cover cases related to eDiscovery cost reimbursement, fee disputes and production format disputes. Stay tuned!

So, what do you think? Did you miss any of these? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.